Japanese is my flavor of the week. Out of all the restaurants I could have tried in Melbourne, I decided on Shoya. It was based purely on one recommendation I found in Vogue forums. I had gotten to the point where I didn't want to think about where to go anymore and figuratively just closed my eyes, spun around and selected the first thing I came across. Shoya won that lucky draw.
We were booked in at 7pm, which is my 'usual' time for dining out. What really got me confused was that it was 7pm in Melbourne (6pm Brisbane time), yet the sun was high in the sky. Kat and I were gussying up in the hotel room because the plan was to dress up for cocktails after dinner.
Honestly, I felt like a tool once we got onto the street, clomping around in a strapless silk dress and 6in Marc Jacob wedges whilst is was very much still daytime. Is it just that we're a couple of pensioners in how early we do things? I take it that the hot young things these days don't even think about leaving their homes till after 9pm.
Well, whatever. We wanted food!
After a short journey to Market Lane, I was excited to spot some other Melbourne 'it' spots for food. Flower Drum and Hu Tong Dumpling House are all squished with Shoya on Market Lane. For me, spotting these Age-reviewed joints is the equivalent of spotting the Eiffle Tower or Statue of Liberty for normal tourists.
We entered the restaurant after a struggle with the front door and my first impression was 'small but cute'. This soon gave way to 'huge and stylish' when I realized that the floor seating area we first laid eyes on was actually part of a giant split level complex. Indeed, Shoya goes more up and down than it does across. We were lead up one set of steps and invited to sit at the traditional tatami seating. Heels were gratefully removed.
Shochu lemon lime bitters and shochu sunrise
Kat and I started our evening with drinks. We decided on a Japanese spin on some of our bar favorites. Shochu lemon lime bitters and shochu sunrise. Girly and drinkable. We were very happy.
The thing with eating with girlfriends is you can't go crazy ordering a lot of things. When I'm dining out with Byron or Hien, I just think that whatever I can't finish, someone will be able to. With Kat, we were more conservative.
We ordered 3 entree-sized dishes and a plate of sushi to share.
Broiled duck - thinly sliced and delicately cooked duck with tangy home made sauce
The first that arrived was the beef tataki and broiled duck. With the duck, you pop a bit of the wholegrain mustard in the sliced duck and eat it. It was delicious. The duck had a smoky flavor and the texture was firm, ideal for a cold duck starter.
Beef tataki - lightly grilled beef with plum and grated radish
The tataki beef was also a good pick. The beef was very tender and tangy from the radish. It was described as 'nice with drinks' and I agree. It was served with a raw quail egg and I wasn't very sure what to do with that... but even without, the beef was good. Kat commented that the salad was nice and whilst leaves are normally boring, I also liked the salad.
Kani ravioli - full flavored crab mix in thin flour skin
Our next dish was the kani ravioli. I was anxious about the term 'ravioli' but it was really more like a steamed dumpling served in little soup spoons with a light broth. Very delicate and tasty.
Tempura prawn sushi
The 'main course' was tempura prawn sushi. It was 4 large rolls (they were described as medium but they were huge to me) and plenty for the 2 of us. I didn't expect the sushi to be much different from well, regular sushi. But it was actually much better than regular sushi! What stood out wasn't the prawn, which was good, but actually the rice. There was something about it that was very special.
We had a lovely time at Shoya. Kat and I thought the restaurant with all its split levels was fantastic. Our waitress was sooooo friendly and helpful and sweet. The food was small and yummy and went very well with our drinks and gossip. It was great for starting our girly night out in Melbourne town.