by James Ridenour
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I have always admired Japanese style.  I appreciate Japanese minimalism in design and attention to detail along with the Japanese zen approach to life and their incredibly warm and generous hospitality.

With this in mind and armed with a bucket full of recommendations from those I trust, I anticipated a very special experience at Minamishima.  I am pleased to say my expectations were exceeded.

Minamishima is located on a quiet locals only back street in Richmond, just off Bridge Road.  The location suggests and delivers something special and off the beaten path, while the restaurant edges  the elusive benchmark of perfection in the culinary arts.

The restaurant design is cutting edge with an attention to detail rarely found in dining establishments these days.  The dining room features a long sushi bar with several seats facing the preparation area.  The backdrop for the stars of the evening, the chefs, is a long cement wall with a contemporary linear sculptured design; which presents as the dominant feature of the dining room.  The sushi bar is augmented by western style seating and several private rooms.

The experience is as you would expect, theatrical but in no way flamboyant.  When seated at the sushi bar you have the opportunity to interact with the three to four chefs working at any one time.  Their movements are purposeful, deliberate and delicate.  They often stop to collaborate, pondering preparation, ingredient or condiment. Their knife skills are educated and thoughtful whilst being masterfully swift and artistic.  The attention to detail in presentation and garnish is exemplary.  Diners at the bar have the added pleasure of the chefs serving them.

Dinner is several small courses mostly of raw, steamed or grilled fish or seafood sushi along with a soup and dessert course.  Minamishima use only the freshest local and imported ingredients giving diners the best of both the Japanese and Australian oceans.  There are three options for additional gourmet courses should you wish.  We chose the standard menu and we were both fully satisfied at the end of the meal.

The artistic presentation of our meals was sublime.  Like all things at Minamishima it was thoughtful and inspired.  The service was quiet and attentive, not disruptive.  Perfectly matching the ambiance of the restaurant and pace of the chefs.

Our experience was nothing shy of spectacular.  It was a magical culinary experience that I recommend you do not miss.

My tip is ensure you are seated at the sushi bar for the best experience and to plan your evening well in advance.  Bookings are usually only available 2 to 3 months in advance, a diary notation is therefore essential!

Minamishima is a Japanese restaurant that serves the omakase of Chef Koichi Minamishima.   They are located at 4 Lord Street, Richmond Victoria 3121 and can be contacted on (03) 9429 5180.



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