During Melbourne’s lockdowns, a number of sublime takeaway sushi services popped up to fill the hole left by restaurants. Aoi Tsuki was one of them, with founders Tei Gim and Jun Pak boxing up fish from a small shop in North Melbourne.

The two chefs – whose combined experience spans Kenzan, Shoya, Kisumé and Nobu – spun that lo-fi operation into this definitively hi-fi 12-seat omakase restaurant in South Yarra. In true omakase (“I leave it up to you”) style, there’s no food menu; no à la carte options. It’s all up to the chefs and what they’re feeling. Twice a night, they prepare 20 or more courses while trading playful banter with diners and each other.

Expect a theatrical dining experience, with spotlights shining on the two chefs, contrasting with the timber bench and the dark walls with coat hangers. Their comedic banter has a touch of Kill Bill’s Hattori Hanzo and his apprentice to it. You can join in – and it only adds to the fun. Ask them why they’re obsessed with nama (raw) sake, or rice wine that has been barely pasteurised.

Be ready to learn and consume an encyclopaedia page worth of seafood – which might include fresh squid, sea urchin, Yarra Valley salmon roe, King George whiting, nannygai (a type of Australian snapper), kinmedai (golden eye snapper), paradise prawns from New Caledonia and bluefin tuna chu-toro (belly) and otoro (fatty belly) from Tokyo. Then there might be a show-stopping blowtorched Wagyu with shaved foie gras, a soupy bowl of Inaniwa udon noodles from Akita prefecture and for dessert, a shiso sorbet.

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Updated: April 14th, 2023

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