For Valentine’s Day, many restaurants in Melbourne opt for set menus and prices. While some places tend to capitalise as much as they can on this day of love, Kumo Izakaya offers its guests a set menu that’s a degustation feast. And, rightly so. In some countries, Valentine’s Day is known as the Feast of St Valentine so we were in good stead to eat ourselves to the full.
Kumo Izakaya on Lygon Street is a contemporary Japanese restaurant offering a spread of smaller meals fit for sharing. It’s also a drinking place, with its extensive sake menu, and meeting place for many Melburnians. Naturally, many couples arrived here to eat, drink and be smitten by one another on this special calendar day. We felt treated even further by the fact that Kumo Izakaya offered a vegetarian degustation menu that was easily veganised.
The first dish to tempt us was the quintessential edamame, delicately warmed soy bean pods sprinkled with flakes of Murray River salt. I could’ve been tempted further by Kumo’s vast array of warm and cold sake, but I was intrigued by the Kirin apple and ume, or plum, cider. It matched well with my pods of soybeans and settled us in comfortably for the rest of our feast.
Our plates of share-food arrived in a timely fashion. Skinny earthen platters holding a rainbow of pickled vegetables – squash, capsicum and spinach – were paired with dishes of agedashi tofu topped in a yuzu chilli oroshi ankake. The sweetness of the vegetables teamed nicely with the soft, silky tofu that simply melted in the mouth. Soon after, we were served crispy kipfler potatoes blanketed by a soba buckwheat moro-miso which resembled a sweet jam. Side dishes of crunchy broccolini coated in a sesame dressing gave this course a main-like presence after the already generously sized courses we consumed previously.
From here, the dishes kept arriving. A bowl of steaming stock filled with cherry tomatoes, large cubes of tofu and shredded seaweed varied the pace; crispy tofu exterior turned lusciously soft by the stock. A plate of soft, caramelised eggplant portions smeared in pine nut miso sent our tastebuds into a state of joy. To finish, we paced our way through a bowl of steamed rice and a salad of tomatoes, crispy tofu skins, seaweed and red onion.
Its cast iron surrounds, dimmed lighting, impeccable service and kaiga-influenced mural painted along its wall give Kumo Izakaya’s dining room its feeling of home. Yet, Kumo Izakaya successfully delivered an intimate sharing menu to accentuate all that is loveable about Valentine’s Day.
Indulge in the food and drinks at Kumo Izakaya. 152 Lygon Street East Brunswick Victoria 3057. Phone (03) 9388 1505. Open Monday to Thursday 6.00pm to 11.00pm, Friday to Saturday 5.00pm to 11:30pm, Sunday 5.00pm to 10.30pm.