99 Chapel St
Windsor, VIC 3183
Another year older, another year… I’m not sure how I should end that sentence, because I certainly don’t feel very different from when I was 23, though I’m sure plenty of things have changed in the interim year. One thing that definitely hasn’t changed however is my love of good food, and the yearly ritual of picking a fancy restaurant for Chris and I to celebrate my birthday.
This year, after a whole lot of deliberation and mind-changing (all on my part), I settled on Mr Miyagi, a modern Japanese tapas bar that I can’t believe I’ve still not visited. Taking the advice of a few friends, I showed up at Mr Miyagi at 5:10pm – a mere 10 minutes after opening – to nab one of the last few seats at the sushi bar. Popular would be a gross understatement in this case.
Mr Miyagi is trendy, cheeky, and all packaged up in a loud, rowdy atmosphere. The menu reflects the ambience with its short but fun cocktail (Cocky T’s) list, and their inventive renditions of Japanese cuisine. Yes, you’ll find the traditional sashimi and edamame on the menu, but for the most part you’ll be chowing down on everything from tuna tataki pizza to spider crab tacos.
I ordered the adorably named Hello Kitty Sour ($16), and as the menu promised, it was indeed sweet and fruity. The pink drink burst with the oriental sweetness of lychee, held up by a tangy backbone of citrus. Topped with a thick layer of egg white foam, it was tasty, easy to drink, and heaps of fun.
The Salmon Nori Taco ($12ea) is without a doubt the signature dish at Mr Miyagi. Take a sheet of nori, fry it in the sheerest layer of tempura batter, and stuff it with a mixture of salmon belly, kimchi, and spicy kewpie mayo, and you have yourself the pinnacle of fusion street food. Each bite was crunchy, creamy, and incredibly moreish; it would be tempting to order just 3 of these and be done with it.
More traditional – but still inventive – was the Himalayan Salt Slab Cured Kingfish ($15, 4pcs). This was an absolute explosion of flavours, the plump, lightly salted kingfish forming a base for a combination of citrusy tang, the aroma of microherbs and coriander cream, and a hint of apple sweetness.
I only ordered the Wagyu Tartare Pipe ($7ea) as a part of the process of training myself to like tartare, but this was surprisingly delicious. The flaky spring roll pastry was filled with melt-in-the-mouth beef, and flavoured with a creamy, umami combination of peanut butter and miso. It may sound unusual, but this is definitely one to try.
The Corn Ball ($5ea) was unfortunately less exciting, the fritter of corn kernels in batter being exactly what you’d expect. However I did enjoy picking at the pieces of popcorn, and dipping them into the dollops of corn biscuit mayo.
The Wagyu Tortilla ($8ea) was a special for the night, and despite being ridiculously tiny (especially for the price), it was thankfully also delicious. The slow-cooked wagyu was mixed with a savoury, spicy bean paste similar to gochujang, and topped with Asian pickles. Like the taco, this was a clever bit of Asian-Mexican fusion.
Our main for the night was the Nikuman Steamed Pork Bun ($22, 3pcs). The DIY platter consisted of sweet, fluffy buns, sticky pulled pork in Korean BBQ sauce, and a selection of pickles. The sweet, savoury, and tangy flavours in each bao were brought together by peppery perilla leaves, and it was a fun way to finish off the meal.
I was really, really, really tempted by the rocky road dessert, but literally everyone I’ve spoken to has recommended the Pumpkin Toast ($16), so I guess there was really nothing for it. And this dessert really was something. The warm pumpkin bread, with its slightly toasted exterior and soft, sweet interior was designed to hit all the pleasure receptors. It was served with a myriad of other sweet treats, from tangy yoghurt sorbet to a rich white chocolate and pumpkin ganache. And if that isn’t enough sugar, the dish is finished up with shards of homemade honeycomb, which is enough to make any dentist cry.
It’s easy to see why Mr Miyagi is so popular. Not only is the food inventive and quirky, it’s also backed with real substance behind the style. Better still, the accompanying service was top-notch; not only were the staff friendly and knowledgeable, they also made sure that our 90 minute sitting didn’t feel the tiniest bit rushed. I have to admit though, the popularity of this place is a bit of a downer, but then again, you can’t have everything.
Rating: 15/20 – karate kid.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.