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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Mitsuno

I wanted to eat Japanese food so we looked for a place relatively close as it was already fairly late. A quick call to Mitsuno on Glenferrie Road confirmed they still had a table. To my surprise, it turns out the restaurant is two shops down from Namaskar India and yet I've never noticed them. It probably has something to do with the frosted glass exterior so that you can't look inside.

Upon arriving, we noticed that the sign said "Japanese Influenced Food" instead of Japanese food. I was slightly disappointed as I just wanted traditional Japanese food, escpecially lots of sashimi and sushi. But I was willing to give them a go.

The interior of the restaurant is very clean and minimal. A few paintings line the wall and the bar dominates the long thin room. The interior design just felt wrong to me from the outset and that never changed all night. The front half of the restaurant had white tiled floors and tables along one side of the room opposite the bar. It was a very uncomfortable space where noise was amplified and lacked any sort of atmosphere at all. It felt like you were eavsdropping on conversations on the next table. The back half, which was separated from the front half with blinds, was much more comfortable. It had red patterned carpet and the tables were positioned much closer.


This restaurant clearly are trying to market themselves as more an upmarket type place. The staff were very professional with service to match. Water was constantly topped up, plates removed efficiently and we were looked after all night. The menu reflected their modern professional feel with many fusion type dishes.

We ordered the day's special of Seared Salmon Sushi. The salmon wasn't seared as much as I thought and was sort of warm without being hot. It was served with some avocado mash drops. It tasted ok but was nowhere near the perfect Seared Salmon Sushi at Shira Nui.


The day's other special of Beef Tataki sounded great on paper but was probably the most disappointing dish of the night. The Wagyu beef was seared on the outside and served with a soy type sauce with some pickled cucumber strips. The beef tasted funny and lacked the beautiful flavours of Wagyu beef. I actually prefer generic Beef Tataki from Sushi Sushi to this dish.


The last entree of Salmon and Pear with Wasabi and Shiso Oil was interesting and quite good. The sweetness of the pear contrasted with the Salmon with the Shiso oil coming through. The presentation of this dish was really good I thought. It looked like an artwork.


Mains of Grilled Snapper with Vegetables and Crunchy Rice Cake was very good. The fish tasted fresh and full of flavour. The baked vegetables of pumpkin and sweet potato were a good mix.


The Lamb Fillet with Parsnip and Mushroom was an extremely interesting dish that sort of worked. The lamb itself was delicious. The parsnip and mushroom were good too. The sauce was a mixture of vanilla and Yuzu. This sort of worked. I didn't like the vanilla taste with my lamb, it was a bit strange.


The last mains of Scotch Fillet Steak with Shredded Baked Potato was very yummy. The steak was done Japanese style, whatever that means. It was tender and juicy. The shredded baked potato was my favourite part. It had some really fragrant sauce and the familiarity and yet unfamiliarity of potato since it was done a different way.


We each tried one of the desserts on the menu. The Poached Pear was done simply with some marscapone and a honey syrup. The Chocolate Fondant came with a raspberry and cassis sauce. Chocolate Sorbet was served as two scoops in a small bowl. I tried the Chocolate Pannacotta with Coconut Ice Cream and Pineapple. The combination did not work at all. The chocolate pannacotta tasted more like chocolate jelly in texture and taste. And the coconut ice cream was totally masked by the pannacotta.

Two varities of house Sake was sampled with the meal. Both were rather mild sake which were ok but not the best.

Overall, the experimental modern fusion food works on some dishes but fails miserably on others. Desserts were probably the worse. Entrees were ok with the mains being much better. It is probably a tad expensive for the quality of food it serves, although service is totally top notch.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Food is ok on the whole. If you want to try very different Japanese inspired dishes, give this place a go.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Mitsuno on Urbanspoon

11 comments:

  1. These servings were so minute it was surprised we didn't all starve to death.

    For $50 a head again you have stuffed us Mr. Do

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  2. All you ever do is complain Anoymous. Next time you pick.

    Some of us want quality over quantity. We can't always eat at Grand Tofu every week and not get bored.

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  3. What's so boring about paying decent prices for decent food. Sure the service at Grand Tofu doesn't exist but it does it's job.
    Serves us the tasty food we paid cheaply for and fills us up. Places you always like to pick out are further away, difficult to find parking, and has no value for money. I'm surprised you stil stay fat dining at these sorta of places. T Do is rich and can order much more.

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  4. Hii and Miss P1/08/2008 8:35 AM

    Yeah Mr. Do, we both like to eat and be satisfied. What's to say the food was higher quality? They are just overpriced, fancy looking dishes designed to deceive the average Do, which we ain't.

    Next time Hii will pick the place and the movie. Get your tickets for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

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  5. I am wary of fusion, or pan-asian. Sometimes you have to crawl before you can walk, and it takes a chef who has done the hard yards in the basics before "tweaking the rules". Tetsuya and Orita can do it, but not many others can do it as successfully.

    I do not know why good quality Japanese food here is so expensive when it is so affordable in Japan. For around AUD$7 you get a set which will include a meat/fish dish, soup, pickles, rice and sometimes a side dish and all beautifully presented. So much for Japan being an expensive place!

    I think in Australia that we need to get the basics in Japanese food right before we even attempt fusion. To me, Sushi Sushi is not really Japanese. Don't get me wrong; places like Sushi Sushi have their place. It is a far healthier alternative to junk food; I would rather see kids eat there rather than a greasey burger. However, when travelling in Japan, I did not see any of the sushi rolls sold in these franchises. It is purely a Western phenomenon. And you would close very quickly in Japan if people found out that you made your sushi with a machine (as SS does).

    It riles me that Japanese food has been appropriated and diluted by some to the point that it no longer should be called Japanese food (the same case for Italian in this country). Just because one displays heaps of manineko waving cats, put on some Ayumi Hamasaki in the background and have Kanji script all over the place doesn't make the place Japanese.

    Rant over. By the way, how do you put up with all this trolling Thanh? ;)

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  6. Anonymous, Grand Tofu has it's place for sure. The food is good and cheap. But sometimes I want to eat something else.

    Hii and Miss P, again, I deemed to food to be better. It was a bit overpriced I will agree, so we will have to find a better value place that does good food.

    Danny, why can't Japanese food be cheaper. There's like a rule that good Japanese food has to be expensive.

    Sushi Sushi have their place, just something cheap and quick. I agree it is definitely a Western expectation of a Sushi place.

    At least Sushi Sushi use the proper rice and vinegar in their sushi. The biggest monstrosity is those food court, and some take away Sushi places that have no idea what sushi should even taste like. They use ordinary rice which is stuck together in a blob and totally favourless and fish that is close to going off. And then charge $10 for a little bento box. I hate those places the most as I want an alternative to Maccas and buy them only to find they are awful.

    The comments that are attacking me all throughout my blog are actually from one of my best friends. Rarely does he praise me, but instead picks on me for being slightly overweight. Luckily for him, I get the joke and laugh heaps over the comments. It makes me chuckle out loud sometimes. When I feel like it, I'll have a funny reply to him. It's just his way of showing that he cares. Awwwwwwww.

    Now reply to that Anonymous.

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  7. Thanh, there is absolutely no reason why normal Japanese food should not be cheaper. Sure, I would pay a premium for things like sushi and sashimi, items that are expensive in Japan and not eaten everyday. But for normal stuff like bento's, oyako don, gyudon etc.., I do not know why they charge upwards of $8 and don't even include miso soup!

    I can only guess that the on-costs, especially labour and maybe transportation, is quite high here in Aust. There was an article in the Age saying that the low inflation in Aust is a mockery, and that there are really two economies. One, where stuff is imported from places like China, where the inflation is low. The other, where goods and services have to be produced here, like restaurant meals, book publications etc, where the inflation is close to 5% It might explain why food tends to cost so much here, when in Singapore I paid SGD$2.50 for bloody awesome chicken rice, and why paperback novels cost $25-$30, but $10 in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

    The slap in the face is, we pay more for Japanese food, and it's not even good, it's not even presented nicely, like those awful food court places you mentioned. For $10 in Japan, you can get a fantastic bento box, AT A TRAIN STATION!! At train stations here, we put up with greasey potato cakes and stale dim sims.

    Yeah, I kinda figured that the comments were from your mates ;) I find them amusing too, and am glad that you have fun without taking things too seriously. I used to moderate a Collingwood bulletin board and it always amused me the number of people who try to troll on the boards and antagonise people :)

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  8. Danny, I too don't know why there isn't cheap good Japanese food. And isn't it so tight for places not to include some miso soup. I mean its just plain old soup with some miso chucked in. I know of a couple of local Japanese restaurants that charge between $2.80 to $4 for a miso soup. I refuse to pay that much for it.

    I agree with you that labour and transportation costs may be a factor for expensive Japanese food. Another reason I can think of is that there are a lot of people cashing in. It has become accepted that we pay a lot for Japanese food here in Oz. Initially it was probably because real Japanese chefs were doing high quality stuff and hence the higher prices. But now new places run by other Asians like Chinese in particular who have no idea what they are doing, continue that tradition of high prices. They're not going to cut their own profits when people will pay.

    You'd be lucky to find anything you could actually eat at train stations here. Those dim sims reek so badly that I always have to block my nose a bit. It's a curse sometimes to have ultra sensitive smell.

    The comments from my friend is very funny. There have been some absolute gems in the past. Some are just lame and I'm so used to, like the stupid fat Do ones. As long as it doesn't get out of hand, I like a bit of antagonism.

    I wanted to ask if you and Mellie would want to meet up with me for a meal. You guys missed the Bloggers Banquet last time. Maybe we could eat some Japanese. I can't convince any friends to go to Ocha since you need to book so far in advance. From The Age review, that place sounds like really authentic Japanese food. Have you guys tried it?

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  9. Hey there thanh - yeah, EG and I would love to catch up at Ocha. I'll email you to organise details :-)

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  10. yup.

    Not much in this world is better than the seared salmon sushi at Shira Nui.

    ;)

    Lets catch up soon!!

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  11. Ella, we should catch up soon. Maybe for seared salmon as Shira Nui even. :)

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