Quite possibly the most unassuming "restaurant" in Melbourne, no?!?!
How are you all doing? I don't know about you, but for a lot of us, our graduation dinner is almost just as anticipated as the ceremony itself. You know, a special celebratory dinner, in the company of loved ones, some with families that flew in from overseas. So, a lot of thought was given into thinking of where to take close friends/families out for dinner that night.
So, I've been hearing my cousins speak of this really cool Japanese "restaurant" that they've been eating at for years, called Ibuki. Always SO curious to try but could never got the chance! Not a lot of people I know has heard of this house restaurant before even though they've been open for more than 20 years! That's why when we were trying to think of where to go for my graduation dinner, this place immediately came to mind. On top of that, it was an even special night for us because we didn't just want to celebrate my graduation, but Cousin J's graduation from Masters as well as Cousin C's 21st birthday. YAY!!!
Me folks and sis outside the house. Never know if I look like Mum or Dad ;p
What's really cool is that this restaurant is actually served by a Japanese chef in his own home! Also, it's an omakase concept (i.e. chef given free-reign to design the menu) worth usually around $60-80 per person, which is NOT BAD AT ALL, as you will later see what we were actually served. But there are conditions to eating here. My cousins told me that they used to have to book months in advance (absurd!). Also, each booking has to be for a party of 10 because they only take in one table per night. How can you NOT be intrigued by this restaurant =O
How crazy is that?! But now, they've changed things a little bit. All you need is several weeks and they take in 3 tables per night now. One for a group of 10-12, 4-6 or 2 only. Much easier to make a booking now. Phew!
One last thing about Ibuki is that it was virtually non-existent anywhere on the Internet. Not on Google, Urbanspoon, blogs or anything. NADA! Also, don't mistake this for the other Ibuki Restaurant in the city on Urbanspoon. So, forgive me if I feel really, REALLY excited to (sorta) be the first to share with most of you (who's hearing this for the first time) today one of our family's favourite eateries, that has sorta remained "hidden" among us for so long. Have added this restaurant to Urbanspoon, so you can find deets there. ENJOY!!! =)
Assorted Sashimi including Lobsters, Abalone, Salmon, Kingfish and Marinated Tuna
What a luxurious and majestic plate of sashimi! Literally made us go, "woooow" as soon as we stepped through the door and saw this waiting for us at the table. Plenty to go around and everything was fresh. Again, lobster and abalone... Feast for the eyes too! @_@
Raw beef and oyster platters
The beef was soft yet had simple and fresh flavours. I liked it and the oysters too. Nommm =)
Assorted sushi platter(s)
There was actually another tray of slightly different sushi besides this but I didn't get a chance to photograph it. This meal really had something for everyone. We were pretty darn full at this point to be honest. LOL weak~
Scallops Mornay with Bacon Bits and Saffron
Another dish that got us excited as soon as it was served. Unfortunately, this looked better than it tastes. Way too salty. Still, A+ for generosity.
The custard was a bit too soft and delicate that you could barely feel it in your mouth, almost had to sip it down. But, the broth behind it carried a stronger but natural Dashi taste, which I enjoyed. Mmm...
Optional course: Pipi and chicken claypot rice
This course was actually not part of the omakase but requested because our cousin knew all of us are hard core Asians through and through. We need rice somewhere in our meal. Seafood was sweet but found the rice a bit too wet.
Seafood Soup with Abalone, Crab Claw, Mussel and Fish Cake
I liked this. The meal took a lighter course from this soup onwards. Naturally sweet and the soup felt so warm and soothing down the throat.
Don't think I've seen a Tempura Lobster Head before! Just for decoration purposes but looked really cool. Surprisingly, my favourite thing was the tempura yam/taro haha =D
To be honest, I've always been more of a Sukiyaki than a Shabu Shabu kinda guy. We were pretty much full to the brim at this point. Which, I guess wasn't really fair to the dish. Was okay.
Japanese crepe with Red Bean/Black Sesame Ice-Cream; Complimentary fruits/truffles
Whoops, didn't really stitch the last photo properly lol. Anyway, crepe was chewy and I enjoyed the red bean more than the black sesame (surprisingly). Last dish of the day and foahhh, so full by that point. /endofmeal
Picking our glasses for our WARM sake
Seriously awesome beer!! We all couldn't get enough of it and ordered so many of these. Smooth and good depth of flavour. I don't drink beer that often *ahem* but I found this pretty outstanding. Can't find this in any Dan Murphy's, Coles/Woolies Liquor! Please order this if you happen to go.
Trying to give you a view of our table, the restaurant and also the work station. Very cosy.
Happy 21st Birthday, C!!! Lots of photo taking after that, woo-hoo =)
"We are family, come on every body and sing!"
Final group picture to cap off a truly magnificent evening =)
Food wise, was it the best Japanese meal I've had? No. But would I go back? Yes. Would I still recommend it? Oh, YES! Especially for special occasions.
First of all, the food served was really not what you would get in your usual Jap meal, which makes it perfect for special occasions like this. A bit more extravagant but the price was more than justified at $80 per pop, as you can see! Also, the drinks were really reasonably priced because we were there for hours and ordered countless rounds of sake and beer but it didn't amount to much, honestly.
Food was okay. But to us, the best thing about this place was the venue itself. It was private and intimate, that's why we felt so comfortable to just sit around and catch up for hours, while ordering rounds and rounds of drinks in between. You don't get to do this or even feel this way at any other restaurants. Really ideal for long dinners with close friends and family.
Overall, it was such a lovely evening spent with my family. We were there for hours and had so much great conversation and even better laughs, reminiscing on old times. So, so rare for all of us to gather like this and there were so many things to celebrate so I truly appreciated that night. Family really is everything, after all.
Just wanted to thank my wonderful relos for yet another fantastic meal (LOVE our family dinners!), my family for flying to Melbourne and also to Dad, for his generosity in picking up the tab for all of us. Looking forward to many more cherished meals like this with the family in Melbourne.
That's all for now. PEACE!!!