9/04/2008 07:38:00 PM

25 Market Lane
Melbourne 3000
(03) 9650-0858

I've been wanting to go to Shoya ever since it first opened, some years ago (is it 4? Maybe 5), back when I'd just started uni and thought that Japanese karaoke bars were just the coolest. *Squeal!* Omg! Lolz! *Cheeky grin* It was only a couple of weeks ago, however, that I finally went. My parents and brother have had lunch there before, adored the food, and really wanted to bring me for dinner.

Shoya has 4 levels: Japanese-style BBQ, traditional Japanese seating, Chef's executive lounge/sushi bar/karaoke rooms, and a club lounge. It's all quite confusing, but if you just want to go for a meal, then you'd choose one of the first 2 floors. And whilst we're talking about confusing... the menu is incredibly confusing. (Have a look here). We spent a good 20 minutes reading it, trying to discern which items would be suitable for entrées, main course, or whatever.

We were a bit bemused by our waiter too. We thought we'd start off by ordering a sushi-sashimi selection to share, and then choose one main meal each. With, of course, a chawan mushi as entrée for Mum - it's her favourite. So, we asked our waiter for one sushi-sashimi selection as our entrée. His immediately told us that we should order 2, as one wouldn't be big enough for the 5 of us. We did indeed order 2, but we weren't particularly happy about the way he told us - obviously I appreciate the heads-up on the size, but it did feel like he was upselling.

Anyway, then we each ordered our mains. I had my eye on "The Deep Fried Skewer" (how good does that sound!!), and at $25, I wasn't sure if it was a small entrée or a main-course dish. I asked the waiter about it, and he informed me that it was more of a snack than a main meal (oh well!) and suggested that I order something from the main course page. I chose the gyu-tan koshu ni ("Carefully stewed ox tongue over 2 days for its perfect softness with red wine and Japanese seasonings to amaze you"). Phew, all settled!

However, our waiter came back 2 minutes later, asking how many pieces of sushi we wanted per person. Wtf? He said "would you prefer 2 or 3 pieces per person?" We were a bit confused, as we'd assumed that the 2 platters that he'd told us to order would be the right amount. In the end we said, "Can't we just have what you told suggested to us before?" Hmm.

Ok, after that initial confusion, the night didn't improve straight away. We had to wait - a long time - for any food to come out. The restaurant didn't seem busy either, so I'm not sure what the problem was. After more than half an hungry hour of waiting, some food finally arrived at our table. But it wasn't the right food! My main - the oxtongue - was the first thing to come out. Once more, wtf? I explained to the waitress that it wasn't correct, she took it away, but our original waiter returned and told me, "This is what you ordered".

Me: Yes, but it's my main meal, we haven't got our sushi yet.
Waiter: Our sushi section is very busy tonight.
Me: That's ok, but I'd still like to eat my main after the entrée.

Ok, a bit more time waiting... and then our sushi arrived (pic above). And you know what? It was totally worth all the wait and confusion. It was bloody delicious! The fish was extremely fresh, the rice perfectly cooked, with just the right hint of wasabi and vinegar. Incredible! 2 servings of the sushi-sashimi selection was indeed a good amount for a light entrée for 5, but we'd definitely have been able to eat more. WOW.

The rest of the evening went by without any problems, and the food was very impressive.

Chawan Mushi
I can't exactly remember what this one was sorry! Some sort of grilled fish with edamame. Yum.

My oxtongue - meltingly soft and delicately flavoured.

It also came with a couple of cute moutou buns!
Shoya Ramen

Tempura Udon

Oo-ebi Tendon (big tempura on rice)

We were happy and satisfied, but there's always room for dessert!


Tofu Chocolate Mousse. Described on the menu as being "best for the weight watchers" as it is low in fat and high in protein. I'd say it's the best for weight watchers because it's so damn small!! I really enjoyed it though, and would love to make my own version (in bigger quantities) one day.

My bro ordered the Sea Urchin cheesecake. True to its description on the menu, it wasn't overly sweet. It had a very pleasing, slightly grainy texture, and had a touch of saltiness to it. I tried it couldn't say I tasted the sea urchin in particular, but thought it was a good cheesecake overall.

Sesame ice-cream and green tea ice-cream with red-bean paste. Yum, yum, yum!!

My mum ordered the black-sesame pannacotta, which was a bit too firmly jellied for my liking.

In the end we had a good night at Shoya, and were blown away by the sushi. We thought the service was confused, about which I've gone into great detail above, but it wasn't so bad as to deter us from the restaurant. In the future, though, we'll be sticking to lunchtimes, when (according to my folks), the service is a lot less confused and quite a bit faster.

gochisousama deshita!

Shoya Nouvelle Wafu Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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  1. Sarah, I think the service you had has been experienced by numerous other bloggers, myself included. My first and only visit to Shoya so far was such a confusion due to the menu and service, it has deterred me from going back quite a bit.

    My friends and I were equally confused over the extensive menu. Asking for help from the waiters didn't really help our confusion. We also hated, and I repeated, hated the waiters upselling to us the whole night. We found the waiters rather pushy and did not enjoying the dining experience on the whole.

    Having said all that, their sashimi is one of the best I've tried in Melbourne. The different types of fish, seafood were so tasty. However, again there was confusion over the pricing and how much we would get. We asked about that a few times but just got more confusion so in the end just went with their suggestion. We were later quite shocked at the price of the sashimi.

    Some of the other dishes were hit and miss, and again, I felt it was due to the inaccurate description and pricing structure of the menu.

    Ok, I've ranted on enough. Mellie did say that if you go for the BBQ thing they have, it's good value and really tasty if you know what to order. But again, you have to go many times to establish what's what on their ridiculously awful menu.

  2. Hi Thanh,

    Thanks for your comment! Glad to hear we weren't the only ones. I think Cindy from My Favourite Things had a similar experience too.

    I think a lot of that ordering confusion is eliminated at lunch times, because you just choose your lunch set and away you go. So I think that's why my family liked it so much. If I do go back, it'll be at a lunch time.

    I wonder what the experience would be like if you just sat at the sushi bar?

    xox Sarah

  3. I'm most intrigued by the tofu-based chocolate mousse! A google search turns up quite a few recipes - if we can make this well at home, then we've got the portion control. :-D



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.