Acclaimed chef Tomotaka Ishizuka is set to introduce Australian diners to the rarefied world of Japanese haute cuisine known as Kaiseki, with the highly anticipated opening of his eponymous 16-seat restaurant on Melbourne's Bourke Street.
In Japan, Kaiseki is regarded as an art form practiced only by the most experienced culinary masters. Distinguished by a reverence for the authentic flavours derived from fresh, seasonal produce, this approach balances taste and texture with expert precision. In the Kaiseki tradition, the diner's discovery of these flavours over a series of courses is complemented by a tremendous sense of theatre, cultivated via carefully selected tableware, intricate food presentation and an exclusive, intimate dining setting.
Ishizuka embodies this tradition in a thoroughly contemporary fashion, serving up a nightly set menu of 11 dishes showcasing the honesty, integrity and exquisite beauty of Japanese ingredients.
With an ever-changing menu, thoughtfully crafted from seasonal produce. Guests could expect to commence their evening with an amusebouche of sea urchin and spanner crab, followed by Zensai – meaning -small pretty things' – comprising five delicacies such as cured ocean trout sushi and boiled black tiger prawn with caviar.
The Osuimono soup arrives before two varieties of superbly prepared sashimi, a pair of grilled courses – red bream then Mayura Wagyu – and a serve of sushi. A simmered duck breast precedes a vinegared dish of Kaiyose clams, followed by a truffle soba dish of roasted soba seeds, quail egg and truffle slices; before concluding with seasonal fruits and Kuzu Nankin (pumpkin and red bean) for dessert.
This odyssey of flavours will be enjoyed by guests within a space conceived by interior design firm Russell & George to evoke the same precision, balance and bespoke sensibility as Tomotaka's menu. The Melbourne-based, globally recognised design practice has imbued Ishizuka's subterranean, 16-seat dining room with a mood of quietude befitting its exacting food philosophy, while unexpected and conceptually daring design elements reflect the restaurant's aim to deliver an immersive, transporting experience.
In keeping with this highly considered ethos, every aspect of the dining process has been mapped with extraordinary attention to detail. The tableware selected for the restaurant was custom made by Kyoto ceramicists Shigeo and Yotaro Takemura of Dainichi Gama studio, while award-winning sommelier David Lawler – of Rockpool and Spice Temple fame – has devised a clever wine and drinks list that will continually evolve to reflect the seasons, as well as the outstanding quality of food and service on offer.
The result is a restaurant that is superbly attuned to its guests' entire sensory experience in a way that is commensurate with Tomotaka's culinary mission. The chef has been a longstanding member of the Association for the Advancement of the Japanese Culinary Art, having established the organisation's Australian branch in 2014, and held the title of chef de cuisine at The Crown's flagship Japanese restaurant, KOKO.
In the Japanese tradition, only a chef with Tomotaka's distinguished reputation and expertise would open a restaurant under their own name. Ishizuka is a bold statement, bringing the art of authentic Kaiseki cuisine to life with Tomotaka's brilliantly realised menu, and delivering an all-encompassing experience thanks to Russell & George's cutting-edge interior. These ingredients coalesce beautifully at Ishizuka, promising a culinary event unlike any other.