Miyazaki Review by Elke O'Mahony

Many years ago, I was given a Japanese cookbook. It was a beautiful book considering it was published in 1984. It included a lot of historical facts about ingredients and cooking techniques with recipes that included Dengaku Nasu fried aubergine with miso sauce and Kinome Yaki grilled fish in rice wine sauce. I read the entire book, admired the beautiful images, closed the book, placed it on the shelf and that was my entire experience with Japanese Cuisine. Fast forward to 2016; Mr Takashi Miyazaki took Cork’s dining scene by storm. This quiet and polite chef was suddenly everywhere; he cooked in caves, wine bars and collected high accolades along the way. One writer even proclaimed that Mr Miyazaki offers the best Japanese food outside of Japan. High praise indeed if you consider that Miyazaki is a take away shop, tucked away in Evergreen Street in the former premises of a Chinese take-away shop.

You can’t miss the store with the painting of a beautiful geisha on the street wall showing the way. On our visit – it was a hot Saturday afternoon – we walked in on a group on a taste trail while Takashi was showcasing the best of his kitchen. Considering that Miyazaki is a take-away, it offers about six seats but we were lucky enough to grab two empty seats. The kitchen is visible from the front and you can watch Takashi and his team performing quietly, producing beautiful dishes.

It took us some time to read the menu (including a daily changing specials board), as we were novices with most of the dishes. The menu is divided into sushi (proper ones), Rice Ball, Japanese Curry, Donburi (rice bowls with different toppings), Noodles, Side Dishes and Salads. After careful consideration, we opted for a Miso Soup for starters – it is all about the broth, which is made daily from dashi broth. Next up, we ordered Onigiri Tenmusu, a rice ball formed into a triangular shape wrapped in nori seaweed and topped with a tempura prawn. The tempura batter was light as air with the prawn melting away in the mouth. The rice was sticky and went well with the pickled cucumber and edamame beans (they came cold with a sprinkle of Atlantic sea salt – the shell was a bit uneasy to eat so I just ate the beans inside). The Red Mullet Namban Dan rice bowl was a beautiful mix of freshly fried fillets of red mullet, dipped in namban sauce (a mix made from rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce etc.), sticky rice and seaweed. It was a filling bowl of food that certainly put a smile on my face. The fish was perfectly fried, leaving flaky pieces of fillet full of flavour. The rice bowl was filling, delicious and opened my mind to umami – the fifth taste after salty, sweet, sour and bitter. It is best described as savoury. However you want to describe Miyazaki’s food, it is just marvelous.

We took home (it is a take-away after all) a box of sushi. Sticky rice filled with salmon, cucumber and wrapped in nori.  One thing is clear; I will never buy supermarket sushi again. Now, where is the cookbook that I got so many years ago?

We paid €36.70 including a bottle of unsweetened green tea (needs getting used to). One highlight at Miyazaki is Emily who took our order and look after us – smiling and efficient, she made us feel welcome like an old friend.

Miyazaki is located at  1A Evergreen Street and is opens daily (except Mondays) from 13:00 – 15:15 and 17:00 – 20:45.