Japanese food is one of our favourite cuisines to indulge in so I had to book Mr A & I in for a dinner at Komeyui to celebrate his birthday in early February. Motomu Kumano is the owner and chef of Komeyui who had previously worked as head chef at Kenzan which is undoubtedly one of Melbourne's finest Japanese restaurants. It is apparent that he thrives on providing fresh and quality produce at his restaurant with the food he presents to customers. I had been following Komeyui's twitter account and chanced upon one of their photos which displayed boxes of uni (sea urchin roe) lined up beautifully. Uni is often referred to as the foie gras of the sea and although it is an acquired taste, it's something I have come to love. Conversing with Kuma-san via twitter, I managed to secure some lovely uni for our upcoming dinner and also enquire about the possibility of having otoro (fatty tuna belly) which he ordered in. Yes, we were ready to indulge.
Decorated in a simplistic manner, the restaurant has a serene ambiance and you can just feel the concentration and passion Kuma-san has for his food, working behind the sushi bar.
Starting off with a complimentary appetiser of seaweed and tuna mayonnaise, tasty and light on the palate.
We incidentally visited on a Wednesday which just so happens to be 'Sake night' - a night where the sake is on the house (from a select menu) and you can drink as much as you'd like. Mr A first tried a glass of the Jozen-mizunogotoshi (the premium sake) which had a clean taste and was incredibly smooth. I liked the sound of the sake infused with sakura tree leaves (cherry blossoms); chilled, it was perfect for the warm day and not too strong.
We started first with a beautiful, large platter of sashimi. Consisting of a variety of fresh fish, Kuma-san had torched a few to add more substance to the platter. The seared salmon was smooth and melt in the mouth, as was the quality lean tuna and scallop. The kingfish and dory were clean tasting and comparatively more firm in texture. Saving the best for last, I slowly worked my way through the uni roe (not part of the normal sashimi platter). The texture can be strange to first-timers with the resemblance and feel of a tongue (almost creepy hah!), however once you break through the surface, you will be rewarded with a sweet, creamy and intense briny flavour of the sea. In the form of sushi, the uni's flavours were mellowed by the combination of rice but equally as delicious.
The otoro was what we had been anticipating all week. The otoro is a portion from the tuna's belly which has the highest fat content and it is marbled with rivers of fat resulting in a lighter pink colour of tuna. The slices of otoro were quickly torched to liquefy the oils for a literal melt in mouth texture. The taste and texture of the otoro greatly reminded us of eating Kobe beef in Japan - somewhat meaty, just melting in our mouths and the delectable fatty flavour lingering on our tongues. Every piece brought us back to Japan and we wanted to stay, but alas, with otoro comes a hefty price although it is totally worth it in my opinion.
The wagyu tataki was briefly seared and came with spring onions, pickled radish and slow cooked tomato. It was very tender and scrumptious with the ponzu sauce and lemon.
Mr A loves his hot sake which warmed the body and was smooth to drink.
The miso marinated black cod came out in two cuts; a fillet from the body and one from the tail which were different in taste. Cod is an oily fish which works extremely well with the sweet and salty miso sauce, so the body was firm yet flaked away easily. The tail was unctuous and the skin gave an enjoyable chewy and sticky consistency with the miso flavour.
The chocolate castella and ice cream came in small cubes and although the castella (a type of Japanese sponge cake) was slightly on the dry side, the combination of the green tea and black sesame ice cream was scrumptious. A tart raspberry powder was sprinkled on top to give an extra pop to the dessert. I really loved the unique wooden utensils we were provided as they gave off a homely Japanese feel.
Sake crème brûlée is not something you hear often, or even at all, but the idea intrigued us. Breaking through the layer of caramelised sugar was a sweet, creamy custard with a noticeable sake flavour. The sake wasn't overpowering and showed a nice balance of sweetness and alcohol. The crème brûlée was accompanied with a shot glass of apple and berries slow cooked in rice wine which had a subtle alcohol flavour. The kitchen were really lovely to write a birthday message to Mr A and also kindly brought out two slices of cantaloupe drizzled in a caramel sauce which made the fresh fruit just that little bit more decadent.
Throughout the meal, we were astounded and so impressed with each forthcoming dish and enjoyed our dinner at Komeyui. The service was extremely friendly and hospitable so we felt right very relaxed. Kudos to Kuma-san who has created a seamless experience from start to finish and proved that he loves to satisfy his customers with quality food. Japanese cuisine comes in at all sorts of budgets but for fine dining Japanese, we were so impressed that Komeyui has now become our favourite Japanese restaurant. It seems like Kuma-san has superseded his previous work at Kenzan and created an absolute winner in Port Melbourne; we can't wait to come back again!
Will I return? Yes, definitely!
Komeyui Japanese Restaurant
396 Bay Street
Port Melbourne VIC 3207
(03) 9646 2296
Lunch: Tuesday to Sat midday - 3pm
Dinner: Tues to Sat 6pm - 10pm