5th October 2015
Shop UR2, Southgate
3 Southgate Av
Southbank, VIC 3006
Teppanyaki is not for me. Call me a traditionalist, but the spectacle of having my food thrown onto my plate – or into my mouth – isn’t exactly incentive to lure me away from a more easy-going (and less messy) dining experience. And all the smoke from the hot plate infusing itself into my clothes? No thanks.
Miyako Japanese Cuisine and Teppanyaki – the name gives it away doesn’t it – is a Southgate restaurant that thankfully offers both traditional cooking as well as teppanyaki. In fact, walking into the table-laden entrance, you might well forget that they serve teppanyaki at all. But walk in a little further, past the tatami room and the large stone-carved Buddha face on the wall, and you’ll have the diners’ raucous cheers to remind you that teppanyaki is an option after all.
The first entree of the night was the signature Crispy Prawn, which immediately brought to mind a similar dish I had at Hako. But whereas the batter at Hako was frothy and effervescent, these golden strands crumbled in the mouth in the most satisfying way, revealing a plump, sweet prawn at the centre. If you like tempura, you will love this.
Growing up, mum would often serve up steamed egg custard at dinner, because of a popular Chinese belief that eggs made you clever. I loved it until one day I had one bite too many, and have since then avoided it. Luckily, the similarities between the egg custard of my childhood and the elegant Chawan Mushi stopped at the egg. The Chawan Mushi was so tender that you could sip the egg through your teeth, and set into the silky custard were chunks of chicken, prawn, and shiitake mushrooms. The overall effect was delicately subtle, yet full of flavour and umami. It was quintessentially Japanese.
It seemed to be a night of déjà vu, as the Tofu Dengaku was strongly reminiscent of a gorgeous nasi dengaku I had at Shira Nui. The two cubes of tofu, lightly fried in potato starch, were dressed with contrasting red and white miso. The clean taste of the tofu meant I could really savour the difference between the red miso, which was earthy and fruity, and the white miso, which was sweeter and lighter. My only complaint is that the tofu was very poorly drained, and ended up sitting in a small pool of oil.
Holy Moly. Our Assorted Sushi and Sashimi turned heads as it sailed across the dining room on a large platter. Consisting of 15 pieces of sashimi and 4 nigiri, this was a veritable feast of seafood. The nigiri were good; the rice was fluffy and lightly vinegared, and I enjoyed the freshness of the seafood, especially the sweetly gelatinous prawn.
The real spectacle though was the sashimi, served in an ice bowl. No it was not in a bowl sitting on ice; the entire bowl was made of ice. The selection of fish included all the usual suspects – thick, fresh slices of salmon, tuna, kingfish, and seabream – but it was the tuna toro that shone the brightest. Despite not usually being a fan of tuna, I fell in love with just how plump and fatty this tuna belly was. Good omega-3s, here I come!
Being unfamiliar with cod (both the fish and the game), I was expecting a run-of-the-mill, maybe barramundi-like experience from the Grilled Black Cod.
Instead, I found myself blown away by the sweet, pearly fish. Gently baked with vegetables in a bamboo leaf pouch, each mouthful of cod was sticky and flavoursome, and cooked perfectly so that the texture remained light and glossy. Why on earth is cod not served more often in restaurants?
I cooked my first steak at home last night, and whilst one turned out alright, the other was definitely close to well-done. Not the Wafu Steak though. The eye fillet was a perfectly juicy medium-rare, topped with a rich garlic crust. Instead of gravy, it was served with an addictively sweet-yet-savoury teriyaki sauce, with just a hint of citrus to bring out the beefy flavours.
As someone who isn’t fond of most Asian desserts, Chris was delighted to see the Strawberry Mousse coming our way. I wasn’t a big fan – despite the genuine summery strawberry flavour, the texture was spongy and a little tough, on account of the cooked eggs (as opposed to raw) used to make it. I was more than satisfied with the Green Tea and Black Sesame Ice Creams though. Light, creamy, and generously flavoured, it is pretty much the only thing I want after a long and indulgent Asian meal.
I’ve walked past Miyako many times in the past, and I’ve always assumed it was one of those dime-a-dozen restaurants that charge an arm and a leg for average food and good views. But whilst Miyako is definitely user-friendly, the food is thoughtfully made, and there are some fantastically clever flavours and techniques thrown into the mix. Aside from a couple of small things – like the oily fried tofu and subpar mousse – it is a great place for a sophisticated and authentic Japanese meal.
Rating: 14.5/20 – southgate’s redemption.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Miyako Japanese Cuisine and Teppanyaki.