It’s all a bit turning Japanese, turning Japanese I really think so at the moment. Well it felt that way when I ventured to another Japanese restaurant earlier this week with my sister, Miss A, in tow. I’d read through a few other bloggers reviews before my visit and it seemed to me they had also received a welcome from a certain Japanese restaurant – Shiro in the CBD. I recevied a friendly email from the manager Rafael letting me know about this new’ish Japanese restaurant in the CBD and suggesting I head along. Given my new found love affair with Japanese food I was excited by the prospect of heading to a new place to try out their wares.
We met there, early on a Tuesday and were the first ones to arrive. I always appreciate the opportunity to take in a place before it is full of people. It was wonderfully modern, with your choice of either booths, tables or the long shared bench with stools. I was well chuffed when we were taken to a booth. I like booths.
They had wines and beers on offer or if you are more knowledgeable on the sake front, then I am sure you would be well impressed with their selection. I didn’t fancy a wine this evening (bit of a cold), but I recommended the Paul Nelson Fume Blanc, having tried and loved it at Red Cabbage recently. So I went for a lemon, lime and bitters.
The menu is split out into many different sections – cold starters, hot starters, sushi, etc…. we started with a favourite of both of ours….. just jazzed up slightly – New Style Edamame with Truffle Oil – Shiro’s new style grilled edamame with stem sake, served with truffle oil and pink salt ($9.80). These were seriously delicious. The only issue I had with them was that with the first one I had, it had such a crazy amount of salt on it. In retrospect I should have just dusted some of these salty flakes back into the bowl. You live and learn hey :)
The next dish we chose was the New Style Sushi – Shiro’s new style sushi, Yellow tail, snapper, salmon, chopped pickled ginger with three kinds of fish roe and yuzu creme fraiche ($19.00). So something definitely different! I’d not had Japanese with creme fraiche before, but the inclusion of yuzu through it was a wonderfully creamy-citrusy combo. The sushi itself was fabulous. For someone challenged with chop sticks I found eating the sushi balls much easier, so that was a win right there! And the fish in each was so fresh! Really enjoyed this dish. Something different, with beautiful presentation and delicious flavours.
It was at this point that we had the pleasure of meeting Rafael. A friendly fellow, clearly endevouring to ensure that all guests are made to feel welcomed and comfortable. He spoke to us about how business had been – going well so far, letting us know about the function room upstairs and having just a general chat about Japanese cuisine and also sake. Miss A noted that she had only ever tried sake once and wasn’t a big fan. I’d also had one experience with it and hadn’t minded it, but Rafael was convinced that he could bring us a sake that we would both enjoy. A bold call perhaps, but we would see.
He bought each of us a shot of sake, presented in a square wooden box. He outlined to us, that boxes such as this were traditionally used for serving rice, but with sake, if you were presented with a shot glass in a box like this and were sharing a bottle with your dining companion, then you would pour theirs and they would pour yours. Rafael let us know that you would tend to pour slightly over the level of the glass so that it overflowed slightly. This was a symbol of good luck. We both nervously sipped (and thanks to Rafael for these drinks) and were more than pleasantly surprised with their beautiful citrusy flavours. It was infused with Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, but sort of similar in part to a mandarin. It was amazing and we were both now sake converts!
Our next two dishes arrived close together. Up first was the Caramel Miso Pork Belly – Braised in Shiro style stock, caramel miso with red onion, ginger salsa, micro herbs and pickeld beetroot ($34.00). I liked the presentation of this meal and it was actually pork belly done two ways. Both types were just melt in your mouth fantastic with the right balance between the meat and decadent fatty goodness of the belly. I did really enjoy both types but for the price I had probably hoped that it would be slighlty bigger – 10 small squares of meat for $34 is on the pricey side. But having said that I’m much more partial to quality over quantity and they had done a great job with this…… perhaps just a few more squares would have been appreciated.
The second ‘mains’ we order was Miss A’s choice – Prawn & Scallop – Scallop wrapped in a thin layer of fresh salmon together with prawn and asparagus, served with balsamic reduction, miso sauce and jalapeno salsa ($36.00). Shiro’s presentation is just beautiful. I loved the carefully wrapped prawns, the delicate layer of salmon around the plump scallops and the crispy lotus root – both pretty and delicious! I really liked the textural contrast of the crispy coating, with the soft tastiness of the prawns. Then there was either the balsamic reduction, dramatically dotted around the plate or a more of the refreshing cream fraiche. It was a salute to seafood and my hats are off to it. A favourite with both of us!
I was feeling fairly comfortable. I had enough room left for something sweet, but had felt we’d ordered an appropriate number of dishes between us. However it was at this point we were introduced to Luke, the out to say hello, which was so lovely. Always so nice to get the opporuntity to speak to those who do all the hard work in making all the plates look so beautiful. Now Luke had bought us out a new dish he’d been working on and expected to include on the al a carte menu for their upcoming Mother’s Day function. It looked stunning. Sliced beef fillet with teriyaki duck spring rolls and an enticing selection of sauces and an endearing smattering of micro herbs. I was smitten before I tried it, and despite already being on the slightly full side, there was room and I was grateful for that. The beef was simply sensational – fillet steak is always a treat and with some of the pink salt flakes (hidden on the lotus root crisps), it was just a beautiful combination. And then there was the spring rolls. The natural sweetness of the duck, further enhanced by the teriyaki suace and the cripsy vegetables were a pleasant inclusion. We had no doubt that this would be a popular choice come Mother’s Day.
My room for dessert had been dented but we’d ordered on the modest side and just gone with two scoops of icecream – one of black sesame and one of green tea, sprinkled with tiny plum jelly squares and some red bean paste. It was an interseting dessert, with both scoops having very bold flavours. I’d tried green tea recently at Aisuru (http://perthmunchkin.com/2012/04/25/aisuru-sushi/) and had really liked it, but the black sesame scoop was something new to me and it is something different and quite intense. We’d both liked it, but what we’d appreciated most about it was that it wasn’t crazy sweet. It proved quite mild on the sweet front, which was actually a really lovely way to end our meal.
I had enjoyed our visit to Shiro. We were very spoilt to be given complimentary sake and also be able to try Chef Luke’s brilliant new dish – many thanks to the team for that. For that reason, I’d opted not to take any further discount. I figured I had been looked after more than enough :) Yes the food had been lovely, but is is on the expensive side for some of the servings. Some of the staff are also new, which means some plates don’t get cleared away straight away, took a while to get glasses of water… and minor things like that, but it didn’t take away from our experience, merely just a comment. I think though that given their location, amongst the high rises, that Shiro wont struggle to find a corporate crowd that isn’t perhaps as phased by some of their prices. I was glad for the opportunity to try out a new place and am happy I now know where it is, for when I’m next in town and craving Japanese fare!