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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ishiya - Japanese Stonegrill

UGH. I've been sick this weekend. Rather than being productive and doing useful stuff, I've been low in energy and moping around. I would've liked to have done some blogging this afternoon, but there was no way I could concentrate. Fortunately, I'm feeling better now (just in time for Monday - wahoo) and feel able to finish off this post that has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of months (!).

Regular readers may recall a meal we had in Wellington earlier in the year, where we had stone grill. When I found out that Ishiya Stonegrill, a Japanese restaurant on Little Bourke St, did something similar, I was keen to try it out. It was the same concept as the one we tried in Wellington (meat cooked to your liking on a hot volcanic stone) but with a Japanese bent.

I had been to Ishiya for lunch before (they do some good lunch specials for $12-$15 – not stone grilling though) and was interested to see what the stone grill meals were like.

Going back on a different occasion, with Bro and some of our friends, we went for dinner one evening specifically for the stone grill meals. The menu has other options with the usual Japanese restaurant classics, such as sashimi, sushi, and udon but we were there for the stonegrill.

When we sat down, we were given a drinks menu, which was explained to us. After our drinks order was taken, the food menu was explained, and mention was also made of the other options that were on separate cards to the menu, such as the wagyu stone grill set. We could've done without so much talk to be honest......

Along with being very talky, service was a little muddled. We ordered warm sake to share, along with other drinks, and only received one glass! We asked for more glasses, but this request got lost, and it took about 10 minutes before we could wave someone down to request more glasses. The warm sake had cooled quite a bit in this time! But apart from that, there were no major issues although it did feel like there was pressure to up sell items. When we mentioned casually to the waiter as she removed the sake glasses that we didn't really like it, she suggested trying a different one. We took her up on her recommendation and tried a "spicier" one that she suggested. This was a touch nicer than the first one we tried, but still had that slight mushroomy sake flavour – or is it that just me?

We all ordered stonegrill meals. There is a selection of sets, ranging in price from about $26 to $36. Options are for beef, chicken, shrimp, seafood or lobster. I had the Porterhouse and Prawn set ($29.90) and Alastair had the Ishiya Deluxe ($33.90) which had a bit of everything. We also ordered rice for an extra $3.50 a bowl.

The sets include a small plate of sushi/sashimi, the protein of choice, and 5 dipping sauces.

Ishiya Stonegrill

First out was a small plate of sushi/sashimi, which came with the set. It was okay. Not amazing, but not terrible either.

Ishiya Stonegrill

Next came the five dipping sauces, all rather cute little bowls. The sauces were ponzu; sesame, tofu and crab roe; garlic butter and miso; wasabi and black pepper; and teriyaki.

Ishiya Stonegrill
My porterhouse and prawn set

There was a bit of a wait before the main part of the meal came out. When it did, the staff explained how to cook on the stones (pretty obvious!) and the stones with the meat on top were set in front of us.

Ishiya Stonegrill
Alastair's Deluxe set

The stones, being volcanic rock heated to 400°C for several hours, had the meat sizzling on top as we got them. A couple of people ordered seafood sets, and there had been discussion about how the seafood might overcook in the time taken to get to the table. So it was good to see that the seafood was presented separately on a plate rather than the hot stone.

Ishiya Stonegrill

We probably had enough food to not need the rice. The rice had a fishy, salty furikake on top and it was very moreish. I love rice at the best of times, and the furikake was super tasty.

Ishiya Stonegrill

It was interesting to contrast this meal with the stone grill meal we had back in New Zealand. It still seems quite gimmicky, so if you're after a meal that's a bit different, then it's a good thing to do.

Ishiya - Japanese Stonegrill
152 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 9510

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