Anthony Huckstep puts himself in the chef’s hands at Melbourne’s Kisumé, and enjoys an omakase journey of pure pleasure.
Pure mastery on show at Kisumé.
I WAS HAVING A moment. Halfway through Kisumé’s omakase (chef’s choice) menu, the sweet, salty joy of the sea was swirling around my mouth thanks to chef K.S. Moon’s ‘scallop sandwich’ (a mouthful of raw scallop, sea urchin, sushi rice and nori). Then two silver-haired gents arrived at Kisumé’s sushi counter. One looked distracted, the other was talking far too loudly on his phone. “I’m in that place I told you about. It’s pretty good sushi, we’ll have to come here.”
I agree they should, but I also think he should hang up and appreciate just how good the sushi really is. True, unlike the omakase at fellow Melbourne Japanese fine-diner Minamishima, Kisumé’s didn’t bring me to tears of joy. That is not to diminish what is going on here. Where Minamishima benefits from its Zen-like tranquillity, Kisumé’s appeal is in its energetic enthusiasm. The omakase at both are outstanding.
But, before I expand on that, there are many ways to experience Kisumé.
The three-level Flinders Lane eatery is from the Lucas Group (Chin Chin, Baby, Hawker Hall, Kong BBQ), marking the Group’s move into the more pointy end of dining. It’s sleek, smart and minimalistic, with pale-timber flooring, soft leather banquettes and provoking imagery by Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.
The basement houses a hot kitchen where the menu straddles fusion such as crisp pork kimchi gyoza and flathead with wasabi yoghurt. On the ground floor, sushi chefs stand before a wall of Kyoto-made knives, wielding them like sashimi samurai. The top floor, called ‘Kiro Kisumé’, has the Chablis Bar, private dining and The Table – a bespoke omakase- style eating experience with Chef Moon and 11 of your chums. And with sommelier Jonathan Ross (ex-Eleven Madison Park) on the floor, working your way through the extensive sake and wine list is a breeze.
But, back to that omakase. Sushi starts with the rice, and Moon’s is textural, not too binding and blood warm. Kingfish belly is sliced in a criss-cross. Bonito is smoked and paired with yuzu and garlic. Firm garfish is sliced and braided on rice. Alfonsino collar is a ribbed, textural joy. Tuna appears three ways to celebrate its varying mouthfeel.
Then the creamy pop of scampi is sweetened by sea urchin roe and given a citrus zing of finger lime. The sour twang of Japanese plum dominates a translucent King George whiting. The earthy majesty of Manjimup truffle tops smoked 9+ Blackmore’s Wagyu. Finally, a nori roll of julienned cucumber and Japanese plum cleanses the palate as you slurp a subtle miso with silken tofu sliced in strips.
Is it as good as Minamishima? Who cares. It’s damn good; make a booking.
CLOCKWISE (from left): the Chablis Bar; one of the private dining rooms; a deluxe sushi box.