Ishiya Stone Grill, Melbourne
Who knew self-service hot stone cooking would rock? Stone-grill dining is at the heart of Ishiya Stone Grill in Melbourne’s Little Bourke Street. It brings together the simplicity of refined ingredients in an also surprisingly refined dining experience (considering you’re waving tongs and meat over a 400 degree piece of rock). My friend Ash and I loved the experience, which is a very unique one at that combining modern tastes with a traditionally inspired method of cooking. Without the grease and the mess, Ishiya Stone Grill stands out for a tantalizing and entertaining experience all in one, which we’d recommend to anyone keen for a fun and tasty night out.
Neither my friend and I had previously done any stone grill experience and we weren’t sure what to expect. Is this going to be a messy affair? Were we at risk?! There’s an apron included so my mind immediately thought yes – but no, it’s a very safe and very clean affair that we walk away unscathed and happy from!
It’s a somewhat small restaurant giving it that intimate feel, although the food choices are nothing less than considerable. There’s multiple options for beef, seafood, other options, sharing meals, sides, starters, a la carte dishes, set menus and more. The staff are more than happy to help you navigate to get the best mix for you. Our recommendation – you can’t go past the stone grilling.
We ended up getting two separate grill sets with a few sides, starters and than a dessert to share, in case we got ourselves too stuffed. It’s a very good level of “full” because you not eating a heap. Instead it’s quality and enjoyed in a slow manner, since you need to heat some of it. It’s a nice date night affair by the way, since it’s more than a meal and more of an experience.
First up to the table is a variety of starters including seafood dumplings, karage chicken and something I absolutely had to have when I read the name… sticky caramel wagyu karage WITH a honey yuzu butter caramel. I feel like this dish was made for me. My friend Ash, who does not like beef, was sold on this dish in one bite. I was sold upon reading. It’s delish.
The other starters also couldn’t be faulted, the seafood dumplings delivering a smile and the chicken karage bringing the usual fried goodness.
A hot kitchen
I went for the wagyu stonegrill mix, which includes three cuts of the beef. I’m rather clueless at the exact difference in these, but I had this happily explained to me. The end result, anyway, is that it was all delicious. Ash got her separate bowl of prawns and scallops and her own stone and then we were away with the tongs.
Note that fun begins at Ishiya Stonegrill as soon as you get your stone (which can also be replaced if you’re a slow eater like me) and for the beef at least, it’s only a few minutes each side before it’s ready to be popped into the mouth. I was anticipating it to be burning hot given the temperature of the stone but it’s actually really perfect. You can snack on it straight away without risk of getting a tongue burnt.
Sauces of which also help get from stone to mouth. Speaking of which, they’re fab. There’s ponzu, teriyaki, a milder mayo and a sweeter honey mustard one. I liked them all and it gives that slight touch of flavour that such delicate beef only needs. The teppanyaki fried rice was crunchy and made for a nice refresher of sorts after eating straight such delicious beef.
To finish off our experience we (wisely) shared the chocolate souffle. It’s huge! And super rich, so it was great to share and lighten up with a bite of the (home-made I think) ice cream. Ishiya goes the extra mile for presentation with freeze dried berries and petals. And it tastes as good as it looks too. We had a sample of the soft serve (try the chocolate) and that was amazing too.
We really enjoyed our experience at Ishiya Stone Grill. Compared to somewhat similar dining experiences, it’s a lot more refined in both the flavours and the method. You don’t end up walking out with extra smells and the meat is prepared and celebrated for it’s simplicity. It’s a fun experience and you also get a top notch meal out of it. So for that reason we’d love to recommend it to anyone looking for a different type of night out.