2 October 2010
Shira Nui @ 247 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley
Shira Nui is the answer to your cravings for quality sushi and sashimi in suburbia. It is often difficult to secure a table on the weekend at Shira Nui, but we managed to snap one up at the last minute on Saturday.
Shira Nui offers a fantastic range of lunch specials at very reasonable prices. Between the two of us, we ordered two Chirashi Lunch Specials and a Unadon to share.
For a $20 Chirashi Lunch Special, you are served a starter of mayonnaise dressed spaghetti, a few morsels of gelatinous mountain yam cake, a vessel of chawan mushi, a bowl of miso soup and a bowl of sashimi with sushi rice.
The mayonnaise dressed spaghetti is a favourite of mine. This appetiser embraces the notion of simplicity as it is nothing more than spaghetti tossed in Japanese mayonnaise and ground black pepper. However, every time I lunch at Shira Nui, I am continually surprised at how the chefs can make these strands of noodles so unbelievably moreish.
The chawan mushi is an egg custard that has been steamed in a small ceramic vessel. The exceedingly silky egg custard is topped with a broth mixture of soya sauce, mirin and dashi. The briny broth is flavoursome but remains understated to allow you to appreciate the fine delicacies of the custard.
The sashimi rice dish contained a generous serve of prawn, eel, kingfish, salmon, tuna and an unidentified white fish. I was determined to uncover the identity of this mysterious fish, but after exhausting the knowledge of three separate wait staff with the most helpful response being that it was a “white fish”, I was resigned to the fact that its identity will forever remain unknown.
Although the kingfish and salmon sashimi was fresh and plump, the tuna was bordering on flaccid and the white fish was ridden with soft sinew that made it quite unpleasant to eat. From my personal experience, the sashimi at Shira Nui is generally of a high standard, so I would happily class the lack of quality control experienced today as just an anomaly. However, it is ultimately these kinds of inconsistencies that highlight the fact that the preparation of sashimi at Shira Nui is still a far cry from the likes of Shoya and Kenzan.
The sushi rice that lies beneath the sashimi deserves a notable mention as it is not your typical boring plain rice that is usually found at the bottom of your Japanese rice dish. The sushi rice beneath the sashimi is sexed up with the added extras of dried seaweed, mountain yam cake and pickled ginger. It is one of the rare occasions where rice is not merely filler, but rather, its own feature act.
The Unadon was your typical grilled eel on rice that had been embellished with shredded egg omelette, pickled ginger and shredded dried seaweed. The eel was well seasoned with sweet soya sauce, but it lacked the tenderness of the Kenzan grilled eel (see previous post on Kenzan).
In conclusion, Shira Nui is one of the better value lunch deals Melbourne has to offer. Although the food may be riddled with minor imperfections, I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone seeking quality Japanese cuisine for a bargain price.