A brilliant Japanese chef is introducing the delights of an ancient culinary art form with a contemporary flourish to Melbourne diners.
The Japanese haute cuisine known as kaiseki ranks high among the world’s ultimate food experiences. A culinary art form practised only by the most seasoned experts, this meticulously prepared and exquisitely presented degustation style dinner can trace its origins back 600 years to the tea ceremonies of Zen Buddhist monks, and later to the Japanese imperial court. Now, acclaimed chef Tomotaka Ishizuka has channelled the ancient tradition at his eponymous 16-seat restaurant, set within a thoroughly modern, bunker-like space beneath Melbourne’s Bourke Street.
Essential to the kaiseki philosophy is a precisely calibrated balance of taste and texture that seeks to draw out the authentic flavours of fresh, seasonal ingredients. Added to this is a predilection for the theatrical, with each of the approximately 12 courses presented in a strictly prescribed order and plated on beautiful tableware, all resplendent with edible garnishes resembling flora and fauna. At Ishizuka, the stage for this visual – and literal – feast is a sleek, minimalist counter surrounding a dynamic open kitchen where Tomotaka presides over the punctilious production line.
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