There is a saying that "The Apple does not fall far from the tree" and such is the case with myself and my lovely parents, Mr and Mrs Fridgemagnet. Like Demos and I, they love to travel and search for memorable meals. Here is Mrs Fridgemagnet's first guest post - Viva Victoria (Part One of Three)
On our last overnight trip to Melbourne, Mr Fridgemagnet and I ventured into Victoria Markets and bought a couple of savoury treats from the specialty stalls which dotted the market Deli Hall. The stuffed mushrooms, smoked salmon and assorted cheeses would have filled a lush afternoon tea mezze plate. But in my excitement, I left the bag of goodies at one of the shops! The rest of the trip was limited to hotel food and the usual business smorgasbord.
Feeling deprived, I promised to have a more comprehensive taste of the flavours of Melbourne and it's surrounds on my next visit. After Gianna and Demos blogged about their recent gastronomic getaway, I thought of spending our annual spring break by eating our way around Victoria. I consulted with the Empty Fridge couple, friends who generously offered directions to their favourite cafe as well as posh nosh addresses. Finally, we cross referenced all the suggestions against the The Age Good Food Guide, and came up with a weeklong food safari in Melbourne, the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road. Here are some of our favourites:
Shoya is Japanese for "rising house", and named after the multi-level structure which includes a yakiniku room, traditional Horigotatsu-style seating and fine dining rooms, the Tearose bar and a karaoke lounge.
Instead of the usual noisy welcome, there was soft jazz music in the background as we were quietly ushered to Chef Shigeo Nonaka executive floor and Sushi Bar on the second level. It was just a little after 12nn, so the restaurant was just starting to buzz, just like my head from the excitement of what was in store. You must understand, dear readers, that we are a family in love with Japanese food so much--my husband used to stay overnight in Tokyo just to eat! Thus a lunch degustation was quite a delightful option!
The Shoya Chef Omakase 12-course degustation menu started with a plate which seemed like an ode to Spring. The Shoya Salmon Carpaccio is sea salted cured salmon, thinly sliced and served with salmon roe, truffles, sour plum sauce and wasabi mousse to tickle the palate.
Next came Petit Tempura Lobster tail topped with cream cheese, Hokkaido clam and spiced miso wrapped with witloff….Mmmm cream cheese and lobster in the same sentence! The waiter had not yet finished explaining the dish, when I popped it in my mouth….oishi!
|Petit Tempura Lobster|
It seemed Chef Nonaka was on a roll, for it did not take long for the third dish to arrive. Shoya Crustacians is a delightful seafood menage-a-trios of baby abalone, Hokkaido scallop and clam in a miso vinaigrette with sea urchin paste.
Just as quickly as our table was cleared, the waiter arrived and presented us with a wooden box. Curiously, I peeked inside the box which contained 2 eggs for the fourth dish which the chef calls Hatching Ocean Egg. It had a tasty play on texture and flavour --- like an egg and spinach chawanmushi with tempura scampi tail and really delicious.
|Hatching Ocean Egg|
From wood to ice --- our fifth course, an assortment of Sashimi, was presented inside an ice ball --- cold and fresh, it quite a feast for the senses. By this time Mr Fridgemagnet's giant can of Sapporo needed a refill, meanwhile I was experiencing a gastronomic overload, something that Tony Bourdain fondly calls, food porn.
|Assorted Sashimi in an Ice Bowl|
I didn't understand the name of the next dish, but I thought the meat tasted familiar. Later I learnt it was stewed Ox Tongue Spinach Roll served with lemon-basil yoghurt. The meat is tender and almost melts in your mouth the second you dig into it.
My eyes lit up when I saw the waiter coming with the next dish, Taraba Crab Tempura. Everyone knows I love crab and the fleshy bits on the legs are my favourite ---- I got a pair of long crispy legs. Yummy! It came with a side of green tea salt which I must say was a terrific.
|Ox Tounge Spinach Roll|
|Taraba Crab Tempura|
Finally came the piece de resistance, Wagyu Beef with Black Truffle. The tender wagyu eye fillet is dressed in black truffle, enoki, shitake and miso sauce. My husband and I quickly exchanged glances after our first taste. It was simply divine!
Our meal ended on a happy note with The Chef's Dessert trio of chocolate slice, creme brulee and mochi balls.
|Wagyu Beef with Black Truffle|
It was almost mid-afternoon when we finished our meal. We were completely satisfied, but not overwhelmingly full. We thanked the team of waiters for their unparalleled service and knowledge of the menu.
Chef Nonaka is an artist and his degustation menu is a masterpiece!
Part of Mrs Fridgemagnets guest posts on Viva Victoria!