This autumn, Tetsujin, one of David Loh’s (Rice Workshop, Dessert Story) most successful venues, invited Michelin starred chef Masahiko Yomoda to create a brand new lunch menu. And we were lucky enough to score a seat at the preview table with Yomoda himself.
To start things of, Yomoda, who describes his style of cooking as French-based freestyle, introduced us to the spiced ceviche nori taco with salmon, tuna, kingfish ceviche marinated with Gochujang, layered on top of sushi rice, smashed avocado, all encased inside a battered and fried nori shell and drizzled with kewpie mayonnaise. A similar concept has played a key role in driving Mr Miyagi’spopularity among Melbourne’s Instagram obsessed millennials. Our serving of Tetsujin’s version was an interesting preview of how the dish could go wrong and how it could be great. The first nori taco shell was disappointingly chewy and stale, as if it had been made hours ago. However, the second nori taco shell was crisp and flavoursome. The fillings on the other hand, were consistently fresh and well balanced with a touch of chilli to tickle the tastebuds. The hit and miss quality of the spiced ceviche nori tacos set the tone for the rest of the lunch preview.
Next up, an entrée of roast beef, onsen egg sauce with wagyu marble 5+, Goma dressing, 65ºC egg yolk, roasted nuts, and new style sashimi of salmon and kingfish. Of the two dishes, the rare, thin slices of tender wagyu beef was the definite winner. Once mixed with the onsen egg yolk, slow cooked at a low 65ºC, the Goma dressing with its sweet sesame flavours, gave the dish an extra juicy kick. Not that the perfectly cooked wagyu needed any help in terms of flavour. Unfortunately, instead of being complementary, the garnishes on the new style sashimi; snow wasabi, ponzu jelly, black Goma dressing and popped rice completely distracted my attention away from the delicate flavours of fresh kingfish and salmon. The black Goma dressing had a strong, bitter smoky flavour reminiscent of charcoal, while the powdery texture of the snow wasabi was surprisingly off-putting and lacked the distinctly sharp flavour of the Japanese plant.
For mains, Yomoda presented us with 48 hour beef short rib basted with Korean chili BBQ sauce and teriyaki salmon with quinoa and onion dressing. Slow cooked for 48 hours and basted in rich, thick chili BBQ sauce, the beef short ribs were melt-in-your-mouth tender. The only complaint is the overpowering richness of the BBQ sauce, which even the side serving of undressed crisp Asian coleslaw struggled to cut through. In contrast, the teriyaki salmon served on a bed of quinoa and onion dressing, sprinkled with popped salmon skin, made for a perfectly balanced dish. The sweet and tangy teriyaki sauce was skilfully balanced by the citrus flavoured quinoa, while the popped salmon skin gave for a delightful contrast of textures on the palate.
With Tetsujinbeing a modern Japanese restaurant, it was unsurprising to see the desserts consisting of a fusion of traditional Asian and Western flavours. The Fuji apple, matcha custard cream with raspberry sauce and dry mixed pastry was an interesting twist on the humble apple crumble. Since I’m not the biggest fan of matcha, I was pleased to discover that the bitter tannins of matcha were gracefully balanced off by the natural sweetness of the confit apple and tart raspberry sauce. With flavours and textures reminiscent of sweet red bean paste, the second dessert of soy milk panna cotta and sweet mixed barley is definitely one for lovers of traditional Asian desserts.
Address: Level 4, Emporium Melbourne, 295 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 3000
Contact: (03) 9663 9993
Hours: Sushi Train (Mon-Sun 11:30am – 9:30pm) Japanese BBQ (Sun-Thur 11:30am – 10:30pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am – 11:30pm)
Photography by Zaya Altangerel