"Shusai Mijo" has no direct translation into English. But when written in Japanese kanji (characters), it can be interpreted as suggesting words including sake, colour, beauty and creation. At Fitzroy’s new omakase Shusai Mijo, chef Jun Oya presents his own interpretation of these terms.

Oya most recently worked at Warabi, the slick omakase restaurant at Melbourne’s W Hotel. The chef, who has thirty years of experience and is a dashi (Japanese soup stock) expert, left Warabi last year.

Sous-chef Takuro Abe and certified sake sommelier Matthew Ng, who both also previously worked at Warabi, complete the team, and the trio have now opened an intimate earth-toned eight-seat dining space in a former Malaysian cafe on Johnston Street.

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The main point of difference at Shusai Mijo is that chefs Oya and Takuro prepare what they describe as a “kappo-style” omakase. Everything is decided by the chef, but the kappo (which means “to cut and to cook”) menu includes fewer sushi dishes than are typically found at restaurants like Richmond omakase fine-diner Minamishima. The setting is also less formal than Melbourne diners are used to at omakase spots, meaning you get to loosen your tie and let your hair down a bit while you dine.

Oya is softly spoken until you ask him about his home region of Shiga, a prefecture east of Kyoto, from which he’s sourced items for the restaurant including the centrepiece teapot, the plates and cups, and the yuba (tofu skin), which replaces breadcrumbs in the tempura dish. “But I’ve been in Australia for thirty five years now, so I’m trying to showcase the best of both worlds,” he says.

The menu changes by the season (and sometimes by the day depending on what produce the chefs are excited about). When Broadsheet visits, the sakizuke (appetiser) is a salad of firefly squid, snow crab, scallops and pufferfish that sits on a bed of dashi jelly and resembles a bowl of jewels.

To counter the summer heat, the chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) is served chilled and includes Victorian abalone and salmon roe with finely minced Japanese sour plums. The sushi course uses King George whiting and New Zealand alphonsino, and is followed by Japanese amberjack, A5 Wagyu with caviar, Japanese tuna belly, and Glacier 51 toothfish marinated in a complex miso and grilled to perfection.

Ng’s sake list is organised by characteristics, including crisp, cool and cleansing; or wild, unabashed and driven. There are limited cocktail options, but all are made using house-made syrups.

Shusai Mijo
256 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
9599 2799

Hours:
Tues to Sat 6pm–10pm

shusaimijo.com.au