There’s no thumping music. No deafening noise. No waiters dressed in casual clothes. No riotous colours on the walls. And you can actually reserve a table. So no queues.
There are three levels of varying intensity. Local firm Woods Marsh designed the lot, using a muted palette of black, grey and buffed metals to let provocative prints from photographers Polly Borland and Nobuyoshi Araki shine.
Up top, it’s private, kaiseki-style dining at Kuro Kisumé, a restaurant within a restaurant. Adjacent, a waiting room-slash-bar simply called “The Chablis Bar”, offering 80 steely chardonnays that pair well with raw seafood.
At street level there’s a vast, New York-style sushi bar with an intimate view of chefs carefully slicing bluefin tuna, salmon, prawns and sea bream from Australia and New Zealand.
The windowless basement is the most bustling part of the restaurant. It holds a hot kitchen, a large semi-private nook and tables packed more densely than anywhere else.
Cold food includes three types of oysters; a very simple salmon sashimi with marinated fennel; and a neat puck of Wagyu tartare topped with quail egg yolk. Then there are various sushi rolls and sashimi, prepared by one of three on-site sushi masters (that’s an actual qualification).
In the hot section, there are moreish prawn and foie gras “potstickers” (pan-fried dumplings); grilled hiramasa kingfish with a meaty, umami bite; and maple- and soy-glazed Berkshire pork ribs that’ll have your table trading greasy, satisfied smiles.
Apart from the Chablis, the impressive drinks list also includes proper cocktails and a range of actually-quite-decent house products. There are wines made at Yabby Lake in Victoria; sake produced near Yokohama; and beers brewed at Hawkers in Reservoir and sold under the Shiki label.
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