Cafes, Restaurants and Dining in Perth, Western Australia.

Shiro Izakaya Restaurant

150c St Georges Terrace, Perth
Ph: (08) 9486 1293
www.shiroizakaya.com

Omakase – Trust the Chef

Japanese cuisine, when done well, has the ability to take you out of your comfort zone, and introduce you to new and interesting flavour combinations. Picking the right spot for a long lunch or romantic dinner can make all the difference when trying to impress a business partner or that special someone. A place that has embraced traditional Japanese style, with waitresses in kimonos and a décor of marble and hardwood, while adding their own modern twist, is Shiro.

Right in the middle of Central Park at the end of the Hay St Mall, Shiro has glass doors overlooking the park’s gardens and water fountain, and provides a tranquil escape from the bustling city. Inside groovy jazz meets zen Japanese themes, providing a relaxed dining experience.

Head chef Luke Lee thinks like an artist. His dishes are often inspired by picturesque landscapes, while capturing exciting flavour combinations. One stand out example of this is the soft-shelled crab, inspired by the landscape near Luke’s hometown.

The crabs in the dish represent tall mountains, surrounded by clouds of lotus chips above a forest of baby spinach and watermelon. Through the bottom of the dish runs a light, sweet and fresh wasabi soy sauce representing a river.

One of the dishes that intrigued me was the Omakase. This in Japanese phrase means “I’ll leave it to you”. Typically, if you order omakase at a sushi restaurant, the chef will present a series of dishes that start out light and progress to richer and more complex dishes.

At Shiro, the dish is designed to represent travelling inland from the ocean. It is presented elegantly with six bite-sized pieces, arranged in the order they are to be eaten in. The dish starts with a piece of fresh tuna sashimi that has come from deep in the ocean, and has been flavored with daikon (radish), green tea, sea salt and chives.

The next stage in our journey was made up of salmon, a fish caught in shallower water, with the addition of fresh cream that looks like the foam of a crashing wave. The salmon, flavoured with beetroot water and apple vinegar, leaves a light and sweet taste in your mouth.

The journey then takes us onto a beach that is represented by a freshly made crisp and salty biscuit that balances out the sweetness of the next two pieces.

We are now on land and can explore the two fruit delicacies Luke has created. The first was a crunchy ball of rockmelon cooked in tempura, followed by a ball of watermelon soaked in yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) juice.

Now we move past these tropical fruits and into the pasture where we find a succulent mouthful of beef, thinly sliced and wrapped up with seaweed around some white radish that really pops in your mouth with a juicy explosion of flavour.

The journey ended with a pile of avocado shaped into a mountain with tangy yuzu juice that cleanses your palate after the long journey it has just been taken on.

The next dish that caught my eye was the vegetarian sushi platter. I’m always interested in vegetarian dishes because I like to eat vegetarian food if it’s done well. Many of my friends are vegetarian, and it isn’t easy to find places where we can eat together. Shiro’s vegetable sushi selection includes avocado, poached asparagus, apple and seaw

eed salad. Between the tasty pieces you can cleanse your palate with fresh pickled ginger.

I recommend saving the best until last and ending with the shitake mushroom, marinated in teriyaki sauce and then grilled, giving it a strong sweet taste that bursts in your mouth.

The last savoury dish we tried was the wagyu beef and it was really special. Wagyu is Japanese for cow and although it doesn’t mean a specific breed of cow, it does refer to cattle that are genetically predisposed to extreme marbling and high a percentage of unsaturated fat. This gives the meat better flavour, tenderness and juiciness.

Wagyu beef is graded on a scale of 1-12 in Japan, and 1-9 in Australia. It is generally considered that good wagyu starts at 6. The wagyu beef at Shiro is 8/9+, which is the highest grade you will find in Australia. The dish was plated beautifully with the beef carefully sliced and placed on a bed of sautéed Japanese mushrooms.

On one side of the plate, around the beef was an assortment of condiments including a beetroot puree, a sweet potato mash, shitake mushrooms and green tea salt flakes to name a few. On the other side there were a number of palate cleansers to explore including a pumpkin puree, a seaweed salad, pickled ginger and Japanese cucumber with jalapeno salsa.

If you’ve still got room for something sweet after the meal, I can recommend the green tea ice cream, complete with pieces of biscuits mixed through it, giving a satisfying crunch with every mouthful.

Shiro’s wine list is extensive with local and international wines ranging in price between $35 and $225 per bottle, as well as beers and over 20 different sakes that the staff are willing and able to discuss at length.

Shiro’s has a lunch menu available on weekdays, and a dinner menu Monday through to Saturday. For a hearty meal expect to order three dishes (prices range between $11 and $89) or go for one of the set menus that range from $24 to $32.

While they can provide speedy service if you are limited by the length of your lunch hour, the real point of Shiro’s is the elegant ambience it provides for a good conversation over a delicious gradual meal.

By Floyd Holmes

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