23 Feb 2011

Ishiya Stone Grilled

152 Little Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000

Ph: (03) 9650 9510

It was a Saturday night and we were planning to have dinner at Dockland after the
Japanese Summer Festival in Waterfront City.
Changed our mind and headed to the CBD.
Dining in the city or anywhere popular in a weekend evening without booking is a no no.
Everywhere were packed with people.
We tried our luck at Ishiya Stone Grill on Little Bourke Street.
A little Japanese restaurant which you cook your own food on a 400C volcano stone.
Interesting, isn't it.
We have been there before, very satisfied with their food, especially the Wagyu.

The restaurant was half full, I thought we may got a chance.
Went in and asked for a table. Unfortunately, all the empty seats were reserved.
Instead turned down our request, the friendly manager took our phone no.
and asked us to return in 20 minuets.
Deal without thinking!

I'm not a meat person. The only meat I eat regularly is chicken.
Not sure why, I just don't like the textures and flavours of meats.
My daily meal involved seafood, vegetables and fruits mostly.
The tenderness and sweetness in fish, crabs, scallops, prawns, lobsters, pipi, oysters,
and etc attract me more than pork, beef or lamb.
Surprisingly, I do like beef steaks; Wagyu, tenderloin, T-Bone, porterhouse and rib eye.
I like them in large piece and simply grilled and seasoned with salt and pepper.
My husband on the other side who cannot have a meal without meat but hates vegetables
and fruits doesn't like steak unexpectedly.
We are a weird couple, two very different people make a happy family.
That's call love I guess.
We totally understood and respected each other.
However, it's a challenging job to cook at home for him and me at the same time
who have completely different eating habits.
Dining out is our best choice.

We sat on the chairs at the entrance and watched people came in and out.
Ishiya has a lovely design entrance; small tables with typical Japanese settings,
pretty and exotic plates on display; dark colour walls, soft lighting
and romantic candles lighted up on the tables.
Small, warm and cozy ambiance.
I can't remember whether there were music playing that night,
However, hearing the combination of giggles, laughing and food sizzling made the most beautiful sounds.

After a long wait, finally we've got a table in the corner.
To start, DH ordered a Japanese soft drink: Calpis Water,
I had the Fruit Margarita (can't remember what it was, any idea?) and later I also tried the
Strawberry Illusion mocktail.
Both of my drinks were nice and fresh and it was around $9 each I believed.
For appetizers, DH had the Oyster Tempura and I had the Abalone Sashimi ($13).
There were three deep fried oysters placed in a long narrow plate
and served with two different Japanese sauces ( mayonnaise with roe, ginger with vinegar).
Great presentation and the oysters were good, there was no wow factor though.
As long as the oysters are fresh and the batter not too thick, the dish won't fail.
The abalone sashimi was an interested dish, something I have never tried before.
There are many ways to cook baby abalones, such as steam it with black bean sauce, steam it with ginger and shallot, steam with garlic sauce, stir fried with snow pea and served with seafood sauce,
abalone congee, abalone in hotpot,  and abalone with dried octopus and lotus root soup.
Yum yum yum by even just think about it.
I love raw seafood like salmon, oyster, prawn, lobster, cuttlefish, scallop and sea urchin.
Fresh seafood has a beautiful sweetness in it, what would baby abalone taste like, I wondered?
I was desperately to find out.
The dish came in a glass round bowl on top of a nice Japanese style plate.
Baby abalone cut  into paper thin slices and placed into it's own shell, slices of radish underneath the shell.
The dish served with seaweed and Japanese pickle ginger.
Look amazing in every detail. Really lovely.
The sashimi has the crunchy texture but tasted fishy.
I don't like it. Maybe the abalone was not fresh enough or maybe it supposed to taste fishy when it was raw.
I'm not sure, I think it's better to eat it fully cook.
Anyway, still a good thing to try something new no matter like it or not.

Then we had the salmon and tuna sushi sashimi which came with our combos.
Those were okay.
After the appetizers, I couldn't wait to have my main course.
We both ordered stone grill. There was no reason not to, right?
I was there for the wagyu and the wagyu beef with lobster tail set on the a la carte menu
seems to be perfect for me.  Altough it was the most expensive dish in the menu,
for $93 there were salmon and tuna sashimi, wagyu beef, small lobster tail
and teppanyaki fried rice included in the set. Trust me, well worth the money.
My husband had the chicken and prawn stone grill which was around $35 included salmon sashimi.
There were more than a dozen combination of  meats to choose from and
most of their stone grill dishes were around $35, good value really.

Finally, the sizzling super hot volcano stone plates came out in a trolley, proud and royal.
Our waiter cook the meat a bit before placed on our table.
If you were first time there or unfamiliar with the stone grill cooking method, the friendly staff will carefully explain it to you how to do it in every detail or maybe they could cook it for you I guess.
However, it would be much more fun if you cook it yourself on the table.
The stone sealed in the heat so when it was feature in front of me the burners continue to keep it hot.
Careful not to burnt yourself as after all it is a more than 400C hot stone
and as the heat transfer it cooks the food very quickly.
Cut the food into smaller pieces and turn over the slices once in a while.
You can cook it the way you wanted: rare, medium or well done,
and there's no oil involved in the cooking. 
 My only advice is act fast, as you don't want your meat overly done.
 When I had my dish, a big WOW shout in  my head.
The beef was seriously gorgeous! Wagyu was super yummy!
Look at the beautiful marbling fat and the taste was rich and juiciness.
The dish complimenting some mushroom, zucchini and tofu.
There was also a selection of five sauces came with the meal.
I believed they were teriyaki, garlic butter miso, sesame, tomato salsa with wasabi, and ponzu soy sauce.
Delicious sauces and teriyaki and sesame were my favourites.
I wish I could eat faster as the meat really cook very quickly.
I hate if the beef overcook and became dry and flavourless.

The food was decent and the experience was enjoyable.
We both had too much and left no room for dessert.
The cute waiter still shown us the dessert menu, we promised to try for the next time when we visit.
It was a wonderful place with an unique dining concept.
The service was beyond marvelous the night we were there.
That was something I didn't expected as once I waited at the door for five minutes, the restaurant was full and I got totally ignored by the wait staff and finally turned my back and walked away.
That was a long time ago. Since then I didn't go back.
I'd pay good money on food and appreciated good service or I'll spend it elsewhere.
Simple as that. However, I'm glad I gave this restaurant a second chance.
Their service improved quite a lot and it was like from hell to heaven!
Now the Ishiya is on the top of my list with it's fabulous food and excellent service.
We will be back again for sure and I will bring my parents there the next time when they visit Melbourne.

After we paid our bill, the female manager came to us
and gave me a cupcake to compensate the time we waited to get a table.
That was very surprising and how sweet was that to end a pleasant evening!
Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Ishiya Stone Grill on Urbanspoon

Cuisine: Japanese
Food: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Atmopshere: Good
Value: $$$
Recommend: Very Like

0 Meow~: