It’s a long way from Tokyo – 8186 kilometres, to be exact – but Melbourne is no distant cousin in the sushi stakes. In fact, at these 10 great spots even the most exacting salaryman can enter a happy sushi coma.
The highest of high-end sushi-yas, this refined temple to raw fish is found, improbably, in backstreet Richmond. Minamishima stakes a claim to Australia’s best thanks to the incredible skills of owner/chef Koichi Minamishima. The hot seats are the 12 along the counter where the omakase menu means watching the chefs deftly palm vinegared rice and top it with a broad array of ocean exotica, from konbu-cured whiting to tuna belly and flounder.
4 Lord Street, Richmond; (03) 9429 5180
This restaurant might be pushing 40 but Kenzan remains at the top of the Melbourne Japanese pops thanks in a large part to the quality of its fish and the consistency of its chefs. Ignore the somewhat bland surroundings and strap in for a meal of nigiri perfection.
Collins Place, 56 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9654 8933
The glamorous new kid on the block, Chris Lucas’s Kisumé is a multi-tiered Japanese wonderland crowned by a Chablis bar and a $220-a head sushi counter known as “The Table”. Book one of the 12 seats to be treated to a deluxe kaiseki experience. If you’ve ever itched to taste picked mud crab bound with uni, served in the sea urchin’s carapace, and crisp-skinned alfonsino in nori broth, this is the place.
175 Flinders Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9671 4888
Glen Waverley lures die-hard sushi aficionados to Melbourne’s south-east, where this small and simple shop conjures surprising magic. Owner and chef Hiro Nishikura brings a touch of the showman to the delivery of an exceptional omakase menu, where cod is topped with pops of fish eggs and baked oysters are wrapped in nori.
247 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley; (03) 9886 7755
The digs at Hamer Hall afford a striking view of Flinders Street Station across the river but there are plenty of reasons to devote attention to the plates at this restaurant, recently folded under the UPG group umbrella with the oversight of Neil Perry and sushi whiz Shaun Presland. Modern twists on the ancient art include the exceptional maikimono sushi rolls of prawn tempura with cucumber and tobiko or throat-tickling spicy tuna mollified with pickled daikon.
100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne; (03) 8687 0775
It’s Nobu’s charisma that grabs you: the luxe surroundings and kinetic energy backed by an East-occasionally-meets-West menu show why it has become a global byword for forward-thinking sushi. From sashimi tacos to scallops anointed with citrus, it’s “new-style” all the way.
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank; (03) 9292 7879
This laneway stalwart is renowned for its delicately carved ice bowls, vessels for the similarly delicate creations of the sushi master chefs. Head to the calm upper floor sushi bar and put yourself in their hands with the omakase menu, complete with fresh wasabi grated on the traditional sharkskin.
25 Market Lane, Melbourne; (03) 9650 0848
More fusion at this South Yarra restaurant, this time with a US-inspired edge as evidenced in the “cheese sensation roll” starring soft-shell crab, salmon, cheese and special mayo. Our advice: go the personal challenge known as the $50 all-you-can-eat sushi option.
135 Commercial Road, South Yarra; (03) 9804 8873
Irasshaimase! Welcome to a fast-and-frantic Tokyo sushi bar where the sushi train comes hauling cred and bigger groups can settle into the neon-lit barbecue area out the back. Do as the gaggle of Japanese students do and settle in for grab-it-yourself servings of prawn dabbed with fish roe, uni wrapped in nori pouches and delicately marbled slivers of wagyu beef.
Level 4, Emporium, 295 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; (03) 9663 9993
The very model of a classic Japanese restaurant, this Port Melbourne neighbourhood darling punches above the competition to deliver an experience of simple, flawless sushi and sashimi from ex-Kenzan chef Motomu Kumano.
396 Bay Street, Port Melbourne; (03) 9646 2296
Top image: Kisumé
SEE ALSO: Melbourne’s Best Japanese Restaurants