If I had to pick one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Japanese food (with Vietnamese food as a close contender). Fortunately for me, Melbourne has many Japanese gems; Nobu, Minamishima, Toko, Izakaya Den… just to name a few of the more renowned establishments. And now we have another quality addition.
Kisumé is another TLG special, and I had the privilege of dining in the classy three-storey complex the week before it opened the doors to the public. The Flinders Lane giant is simple, yet sophisticated. Think of a trendy Manhattan layout, with bold coloured walls and dark furniture, no loud music, and interesting Japanese inspired art work mounted on the walls. The ground level and basement are current dining areas, with plans for a ‘omakase’ degustation in a 12-seater horse shoe upstairs.
It was first night of service, they were fully staffed, and everyone looked so chic thanks to a collaboration with Alpha 60 (very Melbourne). They were attentive, knowledgable, and just downright happy to be there. I’ve dined at Nobu in Crown Casino several times and had appalling service on every encounter.
The experience at Kisumé was quite the opposite.
Starter: Red Snapper Sashimi with pickled pear, passionfruit aji-amarillo.
A must-try dish. Upon picking up the red snapper, you could see how finely sliced the fish was. The passionfruit gave it the perfect zesty kick that you would normally get from similar citrusy ceviche dishes.
Starter: Seared Yellowfin Tuna Tataki, wasabi tofu, chilli yuzu ponzu
Seeing the presentation + the gold specks on the tuna tataki made my jaw drop. This was one of the most opulent dishes I had ever seen in a restaurant. Each component of this dish worked in favour of each other, especially the chilli yuzu ponzu. Another must-try.
Small: Crispy Wagyu Beef Truffle Balls, Truffle Miso, Mozzarella
This was a STAND OUT for me. Perfectly crisp on the outside, succulent and juicy on the inside – the inside just looked like a dumpling filling. I wish I could eat this everyday. And buy jars and jars of the truffle miso dipping sauce.
Main: Crispy Flathead with a 5 grain batter, wasabi yoghurt
This was an underwhelming dish for me. The wasabi yoghurt had a sour tang that I wasn’t ready for. The fish fillet was cooked through and crumbed well though.
Main: Binchō-tan charred duck breast, burnt leek, orange teriyaki
Duck and orange go together like two peas in a pod. This dish was another personal favourite, the duck was so tender. I mostly eat roasted duck so to have it charred was absolute perfection in every bite.
Salad: Cucumber Tataki with cucumber vinaigrette and coriander cress
This dish was basically cucumber sticks, it was super refreshing but not spicy at all.
Small: Tempura silken tofu, seasonal mushroom dashi
Not your conventional agedashi tofu. They nailed the flavouring for this one.
Sushi: Large 12 assorted piece sushi
Rumour has it that Japanese Sushi Masters train for over 20 years of their lives… and they’re only able to handle rice in their first five years.
With the likes of Mr Miyagi and Ichi Ni Izakaya, unique plating styles for sushi and nigiri have become quite popular, especially on social media. Kisumé have maintained the simplicity of Japanese dining, presenting it in a wooden box with soya sauce in a spray bottle (so you’re not drenching the nigiri and can preserve the flavour). All the fish were sliced to perfection. Don’t ask me for the names of the 12 fish though, I was too busy being in awe to listen to the waiter who was explaining it.
What would have taken seconds for me to devour, would have taken years of training for the chefs who prepared it. The fish is scouted from local Australian / New Zealand waters and everything is freshly caught on the day.
Main: BBQ Organic chicken thigh, crispy onion, daikon oroshi, ponzu
Simple with zesty flavours. The crispy onion was a good addition to add a semi-crunchy texture to this dish or else it would have been a plain chicken thigh.
Not enough ponzu sauce.
Sushi: King Salmon roll with cucumber, crispy kataifi, salmon roe, grated apple
This sushi roll was so nice that we had to order it twice.
Final Verdict: 11/10
Food: 5/5, Alcohol: 5/5, Ambience: 4/5, Service: 5/5
Do yourself a favour and go see what the fuss is about, you won’t regret it. I had the honour of meeting Senior Executive Chef Kyungsoo Moon himself, a happy & humble man which is a true reflection of the food that was served. The good thing about Kisumé is the ability to reserve a table but from what I’ve heard from friends, the wait time for walk-in isn’t ridiculously long unlike the surrounding restaurant neighbours.
All levels of the refined venue offer a different experience, but try to be seated at the sushi bar on ground level so you watch the magic happen. Don’t visit this restaurant on a budget as that will limit your food decisions.
Hours: 11am to 11pm
Features: Great Date Spot, Takes Reservations, Notable Chef