Shira Nui

247 Springvale Rd
Glen Waverley, VIC 3150
I count myself exceptionally lucky to have a Japanese restaurant as stellar as Shira Nui in my neighbourhood. Instead of being grandiose or tacky, Shira Nui has opted for a clean and restrained approach – in true Japanese style. And though I count the omakase option to be the one of the best meals I’ve ever had, I’ve decided to give the a la carte menu a go instead, partially because Chris isn’t the hugest fan of sushi, and partially because I’m convinced that it’ll be just as breathtaking of a meal. 
Whilst we perused the short and traditional menu, we were served the familiar appetiser of pickled onions and fried fish, the sweet and tangy flavours waking up the palate. 
Shira Nui Nigiri ($45)
Just because we weren’t doing the omakase, it didn’t mean that I’m passing up the opportunity to have sushi at Shira Nui. The Shira Nui Nigiri($45) consisted over 9 perfect specimens of seafood, draped lavishly over little balls of rice.
The Ark Shell is one I remember very well from the omakase, not for its taste, but for the slick, crunchy texture carrying just a whiff of the ocean.
I’m not usually a fan of Tuna, but when the thick, ruby coloured piece of fish is so beautifully tender, melting gently on the tongue, it’s hard to resist.
I had expected Shira Nui’s Salmon nigiri to be the best I’ve ever had, and it breezed past my expectations effortlessly. Taken from the belly and streaked with fat, it hits the tongue with a wave of buttery richness that trumps anything I’ve had, salmon or otherwise. 
Shira Nui Nigiri ($45)
After the decadence of the salmon nigiri, the Kingfish, light and firm, was a refreshing change.
The Mackerel was one I haven’t had before. On the fishiness scale (see what I did there) of sushi fish, mackerel is very much up there. I wouldn’t go out of my way to have it again as I found the fishiness was quite overwhelming, but I appreciated the thin slice of sweet seaweed holding the sprinkle of spice mix to the fish, and I won’t deny that the flavour combination is superb. 
Shira Nui Nigiri ($45)
The Seared Ocean Trout was another selection from the omakase that I’ve been dreaming about. Quickly seared so that whilst the top side acquired a layer of smokiness to accompany the miso dressing, the underside remained plump and sweet.
The Eel nigiri was another miracle of blowtorching. The slab of eel, already fat and smoky, was heated just enough for the glaze to caramelise into a charred, toffee-like sweetness.
The final two pieces of sushi provided the perfect opportunity to study the difference between Flying Fish Roe and Salmon Roe. Whereas the tiny flying fish roe crunched its way into a mouthful of brininess, the salmon roe popped generously under slight pressure  for a milder, sweeter experience.
Nasi Dengaku ($15)
I was curious to see what Shira Nui could do with a dish as a humble as Nasi Dengaku ($15), and they didn’t disappoint. For starters, the eggplant was outstanding; it was cooked to a pulpy tenderness perfect for soaking up miso paste, but the exterior retained enough form to carry a hint of caramelisation from the pan. We were instructed to try the dark miso first, and the taste of it was strong and earthy, even slightly fermented. The light miso on the other hand retained the earthiness, but swapped the deeper tones for a sweet nuttiness. Never have I been so impressed with such a simple dish.  
Yose Nabe ($30)
In true Japanese style, we finished with a more filling dish of Yose Nabe($30), a hot pot of seafood, chicken, beef, and vegetables cooked with udon in a light broth. 
Yose Nabe ($30)
If I were rich, this is what I would eat whenever I was under the weather. The seafood had been cooked until its flavours seeped into the stock, forming a deep, delicate umami that reflected back into the rare slices of marbled beef. The thick strands of udon were slippery and chewy, and tasted of ripened wheat.
What I like so much about Shira Nui comes down to just how good the produce is, and how much respect the chefs have for it. They only take the best of the best, and nothing is over-dressed and over-seasoned; instead, a backdrop is provided that allows the produce to shine. And for that reason, I think that the omakase is still the best way to experience what Shira Nui has to offer, though for the people who don’t eat sushi, the a la carte is still likely some of the best traditional Japanese food you’ll ever have.
Rating: 16/20 – best of the best.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 
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