About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, May 02, 2008
Jamon Sushi
Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in and hold it, don't breathe out for the rest of the night as you enter into the tiny space known as Jamon Sushi, a 14 seat sushi bar that for a short time is featuring a Wagyu menu. One needs to be comfortable with being up close and personal, for space comes at a premium in this shoebox joint - touching of bodies is inevitable.

Floor to ceiling windows means all the action is visible not just from the eight stools along the kitchen counter, but also from the street. There are also a couple of tables, with unforgiving, hard plastic seats, by a wall where lurid Manga scenes are projected onto throughout the night.

Charles Greenfield presides over all this bustle and motion much like a priest conducting an Easter mass, such is his reverence for this exclusive meat from 3 to 4 year old cattle with a 9+ marble score. Wagyu refers to certain breeds of cattle, that due to their genetics and methods of production, produce meat with extensive fat marbling

A palate cleanser plate of marinated mushroom, daikon and pickled ginger prepare the tastebuds for the first course of sashimi (raw) scotch fillet. The fine filigree of fat throughout the meat melts in the mouth like ice on a summer's day and there is a herbal or perhaps a sweet hay character that marks this meat as something extraordinarily special.

This same meat then found its way into rice rolls, partnered with mushroom and kelp; in the same way top quality raw fish is not at all fishy, the raw meat did not dominate, only giving a silken delicacy, a theme continued when the eye fillet made an appearance alongside crisp, peppery asparagus - tender slices which just fell apart; one diner cut a piece in half with a toothpick!

To cook or not, to season or not, those are the questions posed when served with slices of both scotch and eye fillet, charred briefly and served very rare, resting on zucchini shreds, nestling up to mushrooms brushed with the meat's cooking juices.

The scotch was completely au naturel, not a grain of salt had defiled its purity whilst the eye fillet had been touched with soy and ginger prior to cooking, which divided opinion as to which was the better and also caused discussion of accompanying sauces for the meat courses, which despite the love and attention lavished upon them - one tuna based sauce took nine hours to make - at times they seemed unnecessary distractions.

A dashi appeared, containing ginger, daikon and mushrooms with a slice of raw fillet draped languidly over the edge, to be cooked in the residual heat of the soup. Light and lifted, it was the perfect way to remove the cooked flavour of the previous course to allow for a bit of fun that Greenfield announced as a world first - squid stuffed with wagyu, assembled sushi roll style then sliced thin to contrast the pink and white colours, which then seamlessly segued to a spicy squid salad eaten with baby batons of cos lettuce.

Porterhouse sashimi with cucumber and softly poached daikon ramped up the meat flavour, sacrificing no tenderness at all in the process.

If restaurants have a soul, Jamon Sushi's was to be found in the next course. It was a simple bowl of soba noodle salad with nibs of raw scotch fillet and a slurp of broth in the bottom. Simple is perhaps understating things a little. This bowl of soba and wagyu managed to encapsulate the qualities of both in a way that transcended their sum - even though neither packs a flavour punch, their partnership was sublime.

No dessert was offered, but refreshing slices of nashi pear drizzled with lime juice rounded off the evening perfectly. Oh, almost forgot. Phew, breathe out.

Jamon Sushi
3 Murphy St, South Yarra, Melbourne.
Phone: (03) 98045710.

The night was very graciously organised by Ed Charles of Tomato and was a pared down version of the full menu.
  posted at 8:06 am

At 12:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you ...

At 3:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can never eat dessert after Asian food.

At 4:35 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said...

Your writing has really improved Neil. Your summation sounds like it could have been lifted straight out of a food publication.

The food was fantastic wasn't it. It's amazing how raw beef can be so smooth and not overpower all other flavours. Wagyu is truly a wonderful meat.

At 4:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderfully described and I'm sorry to have missed the last course. lovely to meet you, btw!

At 8:49 am, Blogger neil said...

No Charles, thank you, it was a wonderful experience and you are a wonderful host.

Hi kitchen hand, somehow they never seem neccesary and I can't come at those bean concotions either.

Hi thanh, thank you for your kind words. The whole night was a real treat.

Hi cin, thanks! It was a rare pleasure to meet one of Melbourne's blogging trailblazers.


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