Shira Nui is a Japanese restaurant in Glen Waverley, one of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.
J and I first spotted this unassuming restaurant when we walked past it on the way to another restaurant a few doors down. J was excited as he saw the sushi chefs in action behind the sushi bar, and the place looked full, always a good sign.
So when J needed a sushi hit we decided to try our luck. It was a Friday morning and I had read that there is often a 2-3 week wait, but luck was on my side and I was able to get a booking for 6pm that night.
We got there a bit early and they weren’t open yet but we went for a wander and by the time we got back we could go in, but we weren’t the first to be seated!
Shira Nui is small, I would say it would seat 40 people including the seats at the bar. It is simple in decor, but authentic and more traditional in style than other Japanese places that go for the modern look. It reminded me of many of the places we ate at when we were in Japan.
We started with a complimentary pickled vegetable appetizer before deciding on what we wanted to order.
J was keen to try the omakase menu (where the sushi chef decides for you and presents you with two pieces of sushi at a time, until you say stop), but unfortunately you can only do this if you sit at the bar and all the seats were booked. Next time!
I couldn’t see miso soup on the menu, but was told they had it when I asked. So we both went with a bowl of that to start with.
It was very good miso.
J then had the shira nui nigiri (speciality nine pieces of nigiri sushi).
I had the crispy chicken roll (crisp deep fried chicken, cucumber and salad with a sweet sauce and a mustard mayonnaise).
This was four huge pieces, with two separate pieces of fried chicken on top. It was very nice, but I would have preferred the pieces to be smaller and more manageable. Their size made them difficult to pick up with chop sticks, and you couldn’t eat them in one bite, which just made it a bit messy.
J then had the pan fried salmon nigiri.
You can see the searing on the pieces of salmon. The sushi chef is blow torch happy and we could see him happily searing away the whole time we were there. This renders the fat and makes the fish juicier.
The staff also tell you which dishes to use soy sauce on. J was told no soy for the salmon and I was told the same for my next dish, which was yaki niku nigiri (special barbeque beef sushi – rare).
It was superb. The beef was so tender and beautifully cooked (or not, as it was rare). Poor J didn’t even get to try any as I inhaled all six pieces. The rice to beef ratio was spot on as well.
We were done. We were both full. The dishes had come out quite quickly and it wasn’t even 7pm!
For the food, plus one soft drink and one pot of Japanese tea, the bill was close to $120. It is definitely not value for money. But, as J and I discussed, Japanese is normally more expensive than other cuisines and you have to pay if you want the freshest and the best. And you want the freshest and the best if you are eating raw fish.
We will definitely go back to Shira Nui, but this time we will book a bit more in advance and get a seat at the bar.
For a lunch review, see here.