Mr Miyagi : 99 Chapel St, Windsor

June 27, 2015 at 5:37 pm (Bar, Fusion, Japanese, Windsor)

In contrast to its namesake, Mr Miyagi doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The vibe is back streets of Tokyo meets Detroit, a brash, punk-grunge fit-out, on trend with its stripped brick wall, industrial furniture and polished concrete floor, that rocks a neon “Loser” arrow heart, Hello Kitty references and noughties R&B soundtrack in the way that subculture and old school revivals have become mainstream cool.

Mr Miyagi - Dining Room

Mr Miyagi - Daikon

Mr Miyagi - Menu

What started as a bar with food (little more than a “Japanese Food and Liquor” sign announcing its arrival on Chapel St), has become somewhat of a Windsor destination, with a fusion menu that escapes the tired cliches. Forget ramen burgers, Melbourne needs to get onto these nori tacos; crispy tempura-fried nori shells layered to the brim with sushi rice, fatty salmon belly, kewpie and napa cabbage (wombok) kimchi.  (Incredibly, the fried nori is easier to handle than the typical corn taco, the seaweed tending to break away without catastrophically failing the rest of the shell).  There’s also “tonkatsu” shredded pork balls topped with creamy apple slaw and the ever popular MFC – super-crispy karaage, simply served with kewpie because it needs nothing else.  Another old-timer from the original A5 menu is David Chang’s ramen gnocchi, so named because that’s who they pinched the recipe from.  The ramen gnocchi is denser, with a more pasta-like flavour than the straight potato version.  A rich bolognese sauce of finely ground wagyu beef topped with a snow of salty buffalo ricotta is suitably thick enough for your “rice dropping device” to handle.  One corner is dedicated to snacks on sticks; sticky glazed chicken wings, corn cobs slathered in miso butter and plump, beer-battered “prawn dawgs”, a chef-y take on a fairground favourite that is bound to invite food envy.

Mr Miyagi - Nori Taco

Mr Miyagi - MFC

Mr Miyagi - David Chang's Ramen Gnocchi

It wouldn’t be a Japanese restaurant without fishy things and Mr Miyagi serves up some solid nigiri and sashimi, or you may like your fish served sandwich-style between two crispy rice cakes.  Happy’s Hand Roll is a daily special that takes the experimentation to the humble makizushi.  Mr M does away with rice completely to focus on the good stuff in his salmon, avocado, asparagus and spring onion creation, the whole roll tempura-ed and served on a bed of salty miso sauce.  In this case, we actually missed the rice, pickled radishes adding some but not quite enough sweetness to lift the dish.

Mr Miyagi - Sushi

Mr Miyagi - Happy's Hand Roll

Make sure to leave room for dessert.  Hot donuts and kinder surprise ice cream are tempting, but we can’t pass up the pumpkin toast.  Warm cinnamon and walnut loaf, heavenly rich with its spiced butterscotch-molasses flavour, is a perfect substrate for white choc and pumpkin ganache, spiced pumpkin ice cream, dark honeycomb and white chocolate crumb.  Get a bit of everything on your spoon and top it off with tangy yoghurt sorbet.  We’re holding onto hopes for a return of the apple pie, best described as a McDonald’s apple turnover given the restaurant treatment.

Mr Miyagi - Pumpkin Toast

Cocky T’s are dangerously easy-drinking.  Take the Astro Boy, “Mrs M’s Favourite”, a fruity rum and sake combo lifted by a kick of fresh ginger.  Addition of citrus-y yuzu and nori salt for a umami hit gives the classic Margherita the Japanese treatment, while a Cold Drip Martini of coffee, shochu and sake topped with white choc foam drinks like a boozy, sophisticated ice coffee. For something edgier, zesty hakushu distiller’s reserve, lemon and bitters rounds out the list with Mr M’s take on the Whisky Sour.  Beyond cocktails, there’s a selection of Japanese and local beer and cider, a comprehensive wine list (mostly local and helpfully re-categorised to point out sweet v. dry, light v. full bodied, for the ladies v. more for gents), followed by whole chapters dedicated to sake, umeshu and Japanese whisky.

Mr Miyagi - Astro Boy

Mr Miyagi - Geisha Blossom

Surveying the damage confirms that we possibly got a bit too excited.  Worth the spend, however, for adventurous food and drink that allows you to have a bit of fun.

Mr Miyagi - The Damage
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