The small township of Geeveston, popuation 1,431, is the last place that most people would think of to head for sushi. Tasmanian locals know better. This picturesque town in the Huon Valley is the home of Masaaki's Sushi run by Masaaki Koyama, a Japanese sushi chef who followed his heart, and a Tasmanian sweetheart to her home.
Koyama, who worked as a sushi chef in Osaka, has been a sushi chef for 28 years. His small sushi shop in Geeveston is only open two days a week for a lunchtime service. The rest of the time you'll likely find him surfing.
Dining room at Masaaki's Sushi
There's a small dining room here but you have to pre-book if you want to eat in. It's a surprise to many tourists, who spot empty tables but have to make do with takeaway. There's a simple reason. Koyama is the only sushi chef in the kitchen and can barely keep up with takeaway orders. The eat-in set menu requires at least a day's notice in prep time.
Photos of Masaaki Koyama with Wakuda Tetsuya and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai
The set menu lunch when we dine is just $34. It's about a one hour drive south (60km) from Hobart to Geeveston.
Head chef and owner Masaaki Koyama in the kitchen
We start with miso soup, a much heartier and homier version than the ones you often find in restaurants. Here the white miso broth is crammed with carrots that have been simmered until soft as well as wakame seaweed and spring onions. Digging in for each spoonful is like uncovering hidden treasure.
Sushi platter for four
Our sushi platter includes six different fillings ranging from raw salmon to seafood sticks to vegetarian rolls.
Grating fresh wasabi
Resident wasabi grating expert, Allan, treats us to a demonstration. The wasabi root is tougher than you'd expect, requiring a rigorous amount of wristwork to render it into a paste.
Fresh wasabi root on an oroshigane copper grater
It takes several minutes before he can retire the oroshigane, the traditional copper grater. After he's tapped the wasabi clear of the grater, he chops it roughly again and shapes it into a log.
Fresh wasabi is unlike the horseradish paste tinted a lurid shade of green you find in almost all sushi shops. There's still that mustardy rush to the sinuses but it's not half as harsh. You'll note, too, a broader complexity of aromas and flavours that's infinitely more nuanced than horseradish. It's a little softer and gentler, with a slightly citrusy and vegetal flavour. Once grated, the wasabi starts to lose its piquancy within five to ten minutes.
Vegetable sushi wrapped in omelette
We dip all our sushi rolls and slices into soy sauce (seasoned with a strip of dried wakame for extra umami) and add a smear of the fresh wasabi. There are futomaki (fat rolled sushi) as well as uramaki (inside out) sushi rolls. The sushi rolled up in thin golden sheets of omelette (usuyaki tamago) are particularly impressive.
The sushi filings are simple, filled with plenty of vegetables like shredded carrot, beetroot and cucumber, some of which are grown in his home garden.
Salmon nigiri sushi
Salmon nigiri sushi is simple but delicious. Each slice of salmon mirrors the other, right down to the little tail at the end resting gently on the platter.
Inari tofu pockets
Inari tofu pockets are stuffed generously with seasoned rice, mixed through with grated beetroot, shredded carrot, crunchy sesame seeds and toasted almonds.
Aburi salmon sushi
The smoky kiss of a blowtorch has converted the fattiness of salmon belly into a mouthful of melt-in-the-mouth lusciousness. The aburi salmon sushi, brushed lightly with soy sauce, is a highlight.
Roast duck with tamago
Our final dish is roast duck, served with a slice of rolled omelette, or tamago.
Crisp skinned duck
The duck breast is lean but tender, with a skin that has been rendered to a crisp. We dunk it in the accompanying sweetened soy dressing and slowly appreciate the delicate layers of the rolled tamago.
There are no whiz bang whistles or airs of grandeur here, and that's what makes Masaaki's Sushi so endearingly charming. And while the bad news is that Masaaki's Sushi is no longer running a stall at Hobart's Farm Gate Market (the last service was on February 14, 2017), plans are in motion for the restaurant to extend its trading hours. That's good news for everyone.
20B Church Street, Geeveston, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (0)408 712 340
Friday and Saturday 11.30am-2pm or unti sold out
Closed Sunday to Thursday
Bookings are essential to dine in. If you do not have a reservation, you can only order take away.
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4/02/2017 07:25:00 pm