Review: Yuzu Cuisine, Melbourne

I’ve been embarking on a journey of self-improvement. Simply having a new job with its associated new challenges clearly isn’t enough. Nor is the physical challenge of taking up a new hobby like yoga twice a week (my balance is terrible, but I’m fantastic at shavasana).

In addition to these challenges, I’ve been attending a variety of free public lectures (philosophy, science, media ethics, digital marketing) and undertaking courses on the free eLearning platform FutureLearn as well. As a result, I seem to have very little spare time!

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I always try to make time for a friend though, and so I met up with my friend Michelle for dinner one night at Yuzu Cuisine after attending a free seminar (Freelancing 101). It was our first catch-up since my return to Melbourne, and there was lots to talk about!

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The restaurant was very quiet on the week night we were there, with only three other groups of diners in the cavernous restaurant. It may put you off but let me assure you that it’s not an indicator of the quality of their cuisine! Their location in the city tends to encourage a roaring trade at lunchtime with many office workers taking advantage of their lunch menu, and just after work for drinks and snacks as well. Late dinners on a weeknight are less common on this business end of town.

Tofu Age dashi (deep fried tofu with tempura fish sauce), $8.90
Tofu Age dashi (deep fried tofu with tempura fish sauce), $8.90

We decided to order a main and a side each, and Michelle chose the Agedashi Tofu for her side. Fairly standard as far as deep-fried tofu goes, but I did appreciate the lightness of the batter and the silkiness of the tofu.

Chirashi Zushi (a selection of sashimi on rice), $21.90
Chirashi Zushi (a selection of sashimi on rice), $21.90

I’m a bit fan of Chirashi Zushi and will order it where I can. To me, it seems the perfect mix of fragrant dressed rice, plump and fresh fish and creamy avocado. Yuzu’s version was prettily presented with some sliced baby radish and an edible flower on top for good measure, but the real standout here was the absolute unblemished perfection of the rich avocado which paired well with the strong distinctive taste of the fresh salmon and tuna.

Entree sushi platter, $25.40
Entree sushi platter, $25.40

Michelle dithered a bit over what she wanted to order, and finally settled on the Entree Sushi Platter with beautiful seared salmon nigiri and some simple rolls too. As prettily presented as this platter was though, I think I prefer my choice of the chirashi zushi!

Nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with miso paste), $8.90
Nasu dengaku (grilled eggplant with miso paste), $8.90

Surprisingly, my choice of a side came up much later than the other dishes. The Nasu Dengaku isn’t a terribly difficult dish to create so I can’t account for the delay, other than that we had told the waitress it was fine to bring dishes out as they were ready, rather than serving the sides before the mains. Delay aside, I loved the smoky salty grilled eggplant with its simultaneously soft flesh and sticky caramelised topping. Coming at the end of the meal, it was almost like a strange savoury but sweet dessert.

Matcha Latte
Matcha Latte

We ended our meal with a Matcha Latte each, a thick and creamy soy latte with the perfect balance of sweetness and rich green tea bitterness. This is definitely one matcha latte worth trying, unlike some of the more pitiful weak efforts I’ve unfortunately had recently (The Tea Salon in Emporium Melbourne, I’m looking at you).

Yuzu Cuisine offer fresh sushi and sashimi, expertly crafted hot side dishes, and delicious thick and creamy lattes. Without having tried other items on the menu like their udon or ramen bowls, I can only presume that the quality of the other dishes are as high. Prices aren’t outrageous, and by the time I used my 25% off Entertainment Book voucher, Michelle and I only paid about $30 each. A bargain by any means, for a meal as simple and refined as this.

Yuzu Cuisine is located at 480 Collins St, Melbourne (enter via Church Lane).

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