What can first-timers expect when they dine at Kisume? And what can they look out for in the coming months?
We want to take our guests on a journey as soon as they step off Flinders Lane and into the restaurant. The sushi bar on the ground floor offers a fun and more casual experience where guests can watch our sushi masters Yosuke and Shimpei Hatanaka work their magic. The restaurant sits in the basement and has the largest collection of photographic prints by Nobuyoshi Araki. On this floor there are two separate food menus and an expansive drinks list. Guests can choose from sushi and sashimi inspired by the daily catch, or explore dishes from the hot kitchen including miso soups, salads and larger style share dishes. The Chablis Bar on the first floor is great for a pre-dinner or after-dinner rendezvous. They can also explore the Winewall with over 1,000 rare wines and sakes from around the world.
We’re excited to be opening Kuro Kisumé including The Table and Private Dining Rooms in mid-June. The Table is our take on an intimate omakase/kaiseki dining experience. There are just 12 seats at The Table. The Private Dining Rooms are perfect for those searching for a more discrete and intimate experience at Kisumé. Each room seats up to 16 guests and is enveloped by these beautiful dusk pink curtains that makes for a very luxe and secluded feel.
How does Kisumé set itself apart from other restaurants in Melbourne?
I can honestly say, there is nothing even close to resembling Kisumé in Melbourne. Its entire concept really sets it apart from other restaurants, which is exciting for both us and our guests. The use of Japanese cooking techniques with Australian produce is a very unique offering. Most other Japanese restaurants in the city are quite traditional, or the complete opposite. Kisumé really occupies a new space in the Melbourne dining scene. It’s not fine dining, it’s not casual.
How challenging has it been for you to launch a new restaurant in a new city within three months of arrival? How did you overcome the challenges?
From the first day I arrived in Melbourne I started visiting Sake, Nobu, Kenzan, Kappo and pretty much every Japanese restaurant in the city. I took photos, notes and began to familiarise myself with the city and the food. I had to do everything really quickly because I had such limited time. It was certainly tiring. I was lucky that everything else had been organised for me by The Lucas Group. They helped me find a home and really aided me settling easily into this new life. I also had to find good schools for my children; there was a lot to do in the first few months. I had no time to procrastinate, which probably helped me get it all done.
What are some of the unique ingredients that you will be showcasing in your menu? And will you be sourcing only from Australia and New Zealand?
Some of the most unique ingredients we are showcasing on the menu include the Australian tuna, sardines and beef. We are using Australian Blue Fin Tuna that is rarely used in other restaurants. It’s known for being some of the best tuna in the world. The Port Lincoln Sardines have been wonderful to work with as nobody cooks with sardines in Japan and the Australian beef we are using is honestly some of the best I have ever tasted.
One other ingredient that I am especially excited to be using across the menu is finger lime. In my opinion it is so underrated. Everybody uses yuzu, lime or lemon and no one really thinks to use finger lime. I prefer it because it’s sweet but has enough acidity to balance our flavours; it also has a beautiful texture.
How do you plan your omakase menus for Kuro Kisumé?
We are yet to launch our omakase menu for The Table inside Kuro Kisumé but I will be basing it on the Australian produce that I have learnt about and worked with over the past four months. I am very inspired by the fresh produce from Australia’s surrounding seas and inland waters.
How has Melbourne/Australia inspired you so far in your culinary repertoire?
The seafood in Australia has been the most inspiring thing for me so far. The different regions and the different seafood available have amazed me. It is of such a high quality and some of the best I have ever tasted and cooked with. The fact that I can open a Japanese restaurant without using Japanese seafood is truly remarkable.
The other thing that has inspired me is the weather. The cold forces you to create warm dishes. I could never have made a warm salad in Singapore. That has been fun.