09 Dec Mr. Miyagi
Mr. Miyagi beckons Chapel Street passersby with wide open windows and enticing hip hop beats. A few customers sit at a bar along the window, getting after well made cocktails and precise plates of modern Japanese cuisine.
The long, rectangular restaurant has a polished interior, with many two-top tables in the front, an intimate bar in the middle, and a few larger tables in the back, hidden in deep-seated alcoves. A pink neon heart with the tag “LOSER” in the middle illuminates diners in the front of house.
Chef Kyle Doody, of New Zealand, has done a great job combining his French and Japanese culinary experience to create a truly unique fusion menu. Like many trendy Asian restaurants in the hood, Mr. Miyagi offers an inspired selection of shared plates, their most popular being the Nori Taco, a Japanese take on a taco that’s made with Grilled Salmon Belly, Sushi Rice, Spicy Napa Cabbage, Japanese Mayo and Chili Oil. If you decide to make the mistake of not coming into the Windsor venue, you could have tried the tacos at the Night Noodle Markets in the city. Mr. Miyagi just won the Top Chopsticks award for the most popular stall at the markets, beating big names in the industry like Chin Chin. Not bad for a place only open two years.
Other plates to try are the Roast Duck Roti Wrap, Kingfish Ceviche, or the Slow Cooked Miso Satay Beef. They’ve also got Meat and Veggie sticks by the piece that are great if you just want to nibble, and perfectly executed and incredibly fresh Sashimi, Nigiri and Handrolls.
Mr. Miyagi’s cocktail selection is fruity, but just so. They’re well-known for the Hello Kitty Sour, but don’t miss out on the Sanchez Does Kyoto for a yuzu take on a margarita with a Nori salt-lined rim. If you’re feeling something stronger, the bar’s list of sake and Japanese whiskey is off the charts. Bow your head in thanks for a cup of Umenoyado Gin Junmai Ginjo sake, made of 100 percent polished rice with rich pear aromatics, or the Hakushu 12 year old whiskey from the Southern Japanese Alps. If you want some of the highest end whiskey in Melbourne, or probably Australia, Mr. Miyagi also pours a $65 lowball of Nikka 1998 Coffey Malt cask #218774, a single malt, single cask spirit.
Come for: The sexy atmosphere, sharing menu, Hand Rolls, and the Nori Tacos.
The Damage: A first date at Mr. Miyagi comes in under $100, but feels like much more. Not your first time? Do the ‘Feed Me’ for $55 p/p. If it’s not a first date, it’s not about being too full, it’s about the experience. Care about the experience. A ‘Feed Me’ is a well-crafted selection of their favourites making for a more exciting, adventurous date. Let the venue do their thing, they’re damn good at it.
Getting there: It’s a date so get an uber or a cab – there’s a taxi rank close by and a million cabs on High Street (if they’ll pick you up) – or take the scenic route on either the 78 tram to Balaclava or the 6 to Glen Iris. Don’t bother driving. If you’re driving to a date, you’re mind’s not on the game so ditch it. That, and you most likely won’t find parking and won’t be able to have any sake.
Just The Tip: Don’t let the queue rule you. You know there’s a high chance of queueing, so flip the script and have a plan B – put your name down then walk to Jungle Boy for drinks until they call you. Now the date’s on your terms, you’re showing your plus one the neighbourhood and there’s no vibe-killing waiting.
99 Chapel Street
Windsor, VIC 3181
03 9529 5999
Words by Rebecca Bellan.
Image courtesy of @mrmiyagimelbourne