Shoya's business card states 'fully licensed' and 'nouvelle wafu cuisine'. Just how nouvelle wafu is it? Well, there are enough classic Japanese elements in its dishes to satisfy traditionalists, plus a couple of surprising desserts to keep things interesting.
Before getting to Shoya, however, I had my heart set on a trip to Chadstone shopping centre. Not quite so nouvelle, n'est pas? The information centre in Federation Square told us there is a free shuttle bus straight to Chadstone each day (10am most days, plus another at 11am Thu-Sat). This was good, as the weather had turned frigid and I wasn't looking forward to the train and bus trip that it normally takes to get there. We waited with other tourists (opposite Movida Next Door) for the coach to turn up, and travelled the 25 minutes in comfort.
Chadstone is a shopping mall on a grand scale. It has Australia's first Gap store, and a wing dedicated to high-end brands such as Miu Miu, Tiffany and Co, etc. I bought a couple of pairs of baby socks for my owls from one of the many kidswear stores. Want to know what a sock owl looks like? Check out my Craft blog, here. *end of cross-promotion*
After a couple of hours of desultory wandering around, we caught the 3pm bus back to the city. The weather felt like it was in single digits. I didn't have a restaurant planned for tonight, and for some reason, my mobile internet access wasn't working. Fortunately, my phone had access to an online version of The Age Good Food Guide 2011! A quick search for 'Asian' in 'Melbourne City', and a good review for Shoya turned up. We were able to get a table straight away.
Shoya is opposite HuTong and next to Flower Drum. We seem to be spending a lot of time in this laneway lately...
Alrighty, enough chat. Straight to the food again...
We were welcomed with hot towels (lovely on such a cold, rainy night). I always order chawanmushi and agedashi tofu and the versions at Shoya are fantastic. The chawanmushi had prawn and shiitake pieces in the bottom of the bowl, topped with the silken egg custard (with a lone edamame bean). Absolutely delicious.
The agedashi tofu ($9) was steamy hot and piled high with bonito flakes. One of the better agedashi tofus I've had.
We also had two sushi - one with uni (sea urchin) and one with scampi. Both fresh and good.
And to drink, green tea and Asahi beer.
Our main dish was the sushi and sashimi platter ($65). It looked spectacular.
The seafood included kingfish, snapper, tuna, salmon, King George Whiting, scampi, scallop and a brightly coloured piece that the waiter described as 'cockerell'. Japanese accent alert!! I finally figured it was cockle! This platter was so impressive, and one of the best sushi/sashimi combos I've eaten.
The menu quaintly describes the Kurogoma Pana cotta ($8.50) as 'Black sesame with panacotta to make smooth pudding covered with nostalgic soy bean and green tea powder'. I can't go past black sesame anything, and the nostalgic green tea powder was a knockout with the smooth panna cotta.
The Sea Urchin Cheese Cake ($12) had fresh sea urchin baked into the cake. It was cheesey with the faint yet unmistakeable tang of the sea urchin. Unusual, is how I'd describe it.
Shoya is actually four levels of dining areas and karaoke rooms. We dined on the ground floor, near the open kitchen, and the table had a barbeque plate built into it. You can also eat at the sushi bar. Service was knowledgeable and the food came out quickly. The Age guide says that Shoya hasn't changed much in 5 years, but I suppose when you're on a good thing, stick to it.
The Vibe: An unassuming stayer. Great food, efficient and friendly service. Pricey, but the quality makes it worthwhile
Shoya is at 25 Market Lane, Melbourne, Vic.
ph: 03 9650 0848 shoya.com.au
Next up will be our final meal in Melbourne, at the popular Hardware Societe cafe. Why's it so popular, come back and find out!