Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Kumo Izakaya.
Standing proudly at the corner of Lygon and O'Connor Streets in Brunswick East, Kumo Izakaya and Sake Bar is a Japanese oasis which embraces the social izakaya-style side of Japanese eating and drinking. Offering a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family, Kumo Izakaya focuses on quality food designed to share all of which is served in stylish, modern Japanese surroundings.
Effortlessly blending strong Japanese themes with industrial and Art Deco influences, the restaurant's fit out is a masterstroke. Its symmetrical design features geometric booths with dividers providing flexibility to dine communally or more intimately. Magically lit, the space glows in soft amber light.
Kumo Izakaya founder and owner Andre Bishop is one of Melbourne's quiet achievers in hospitality. A self-confessed Japanophile and sake connoisseur, he's the man behind the revitalisation of Japanese institution Izakaya Chuji on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. He also created Izakaya Chuji's South Melbourne offshoot. Andre is also behind Nihonshu Sake & Shochu Bar in Melbourne's CBD, his first venue dedicated to his prime passion of sake.
At Kumo Izakaya, food and sake pairing is a key focus. The exceptional staff are happy to guide diners through the extensive sake menu. We found an exceptional range of sake styles on offer, ranging from floral and fruity to nutty and earthy, all of which are conveniently set out in the sake menu along with tasting notes.
The kitchen is headed by Akimi Iguchi and Eriko Hamabe. Akimi brings exquisite skills to the Kumo kitchen having trained in many top Japanese kitchens as well as Melbourne's Yu-U and Bar Lourinha. Eriko on the other hand worked the kitchens of Kobe Jones and the Royal George Hotel. Together, they bring their unique take on izakaya cuisine.
Left: Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers
Right: Uzaku - grilled teriyaki eel with wakame & cucumber pickle
The slices of grilled eel were a delicious appetiser. Stained with teriyaki marinade, the fatty flesh was counteracted by the tart pickle and savoury wakame.
The Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers had been sufficiently seasoned and were wonderfully flavoursome. The skewers benefited from a delectable outer charring courtesy of spending the perfect time on the grill. A simple dish, prepared with care and precision.
Premium assorted Sashimi of the day
The sashimi plate featured a variety of sliced raw fish. Each slice of fish had an enjoyably firm yet soft texture. Of particular note were the plump, sweet scallops. It is clear that Kumo Izakaya are using only the freshest, highest quality seafood.
Seared Scallops with Butter & Soy topped with Bonito Flakes
The scallops were perfectly seared and bursting with natural flavour, a flavour further enhanced by the restrained savouriness of the butter & soy sauce. The bonito flakes brought a tremendous savoury element - a magnificent dish.
These savoury ball-shaped dumplings were adorned with melting cheddar and a mushroom base and laced with copious amounts of delicious teriyaki sauce - A simple but very enjoyable treat.
Pumpkin & cream cheese stuffed zucchini flower tempura with green tea salt
The tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin & cream cheese and served with green tea salt were fantastic. The batter encasing the zucchini flower was ethereally light and crisp while the stuffing was rich, flavoursome and exquisitely smooth. The addition of green tea salt was a masterstroke that was a delightful departure from the norm.
Spicy Black vinegar Karaage Chicken with spring onion
The Japanese bar staple of Karaage Chicken was a delicious sight. The meaty morsels were encrusted with a flavoursome spice mix and then perfectly fried to achieve a moreish crunchy exterior - dangerously addictive.
Miso marinated grilled kingfish fillet
Our savoury courses concluded with beautifully fresh kingfish which had been cooked to perfection. A light coating of golden-brown, caramelised miso charring added complexity to the soft kingfish flesh.
Dessert platter for two: Baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote;
Yuzu infused Cheesecake with cream and Yuzu sauce; and Japanese plum wine mousse with mint infused umeshu Jelly & cream
Unable to decide which desserts to choose, we opted for the dessert platter which comprises an assortment of Kumo Izakaya's Japanese inspired desserts. Each item on the platter was a welcome departure from the ordinary – from the absolutely moreish baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote to the smooth, rich consistency of the Yuzu infused Cheesecake, to the vibrant flavours of the Japanese plum wine mousse. An exemplary display of Kumo Izakaya’s versatility.
Kumo Izakaya is the destination izakaya for Japanophiles who want to get inside the izakaya culture and experience it in an immersive way. Offering a vast array of delicious food, one of the most impressive sake lists in Melbourne and an effortlessly trendy Japanese, industrial chic fit out, Kumo Izakaya is definitely a place to put on your "must visit" list.