Kaiseki as a style of dining refers to a deeply ritualistic Japanese meal that focuses on a selection of small courses. It highlights presentation and subtle flavours, with the dishes usually complementing each other in a meticulously planned sequence. Few restaurants in Australia specialise in this style of dining and according to Shun Mori from Shunsai, none currently offer it in Brisbane.
Mori learned the art of kaiseki in Shiga Prefecture in Japan. He then made the bold move to Switzerland where he was chef at the Japanese embassy – he even had the pleasure of cooking for the Swedish Royal family. This lead him to Australia where he has done stints at Reef at Gasworks and Hosakawa in Hamilton.
Now comes his own restaurant, Shunsai. Housed on the ground level of The Wellington building in East Brisbane, Shunsai wraps up all of Mori’s vast experience into a pocket-sized, 18-seat eatery where the focus is on intimacy.
Bento boxes, sashimi sets and a rotating special keep lunch relatively straightforward for East Brisbane office workers and the locals populating the new apartment blocks in the area. But you’re really here for dinner, with Mori serving a degustation by kaiseki. There are two menus available: a “Sai Course” (vegetarian optional) that includes 10 courses, and the aptly named “Shun Course”, which spans 15 or so dishes depending on the month and the produce in season.
Either way, you’re getting delicately executed, immaculately presented dishes such as barramundi and shimeji mushroom soup, grilled salmon with Kiwi sauce, and exactingly prepared sushi (for the Sai menu) or sashimi. The approach leans heavily on quality produce, with Mori express couriering fish from Sydney Fish Markets and wagyu from Dubbo Meat Centre.
For drinks, there’s a healthy selection of sake and shochu, and a wine list that leans towards lighter styles of both white and red. Yebisu beer is available by the bottle with Sapporo on-tap.
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