At this relatively new Toorak Road restaurant, tradition melds into the new and exciting as fluidly as the dry finish of a perfectly paired sake is transformed by a vibrant hit of cucumber, grape and melon.
I love what I do and love to connect with my guests through the food I create. Respecting tradition and honouring my heritage and experience is very important to me. The trust my customers have in me allows me to create a unique, individual experience every time. Every element, every dish is important and sharing my passion with my customers is an honour.
The passion that chef Peterson Maia Machado Correia has for his creations and his customers is clear from the first time you enter Oshan Contemporary Sushi, and experience his glowing grin presiding over the counter. Oshan’s co-owner, Vanessa Fodera, is then your guide, taking us through each course in delightful detail. Together, they make an endearingly welcome team, belying the formidable culinary education that’s to follow.
Fusion may be a ghostly term in contemporary fine dining, but Oshan proves the well-formed truth that by the time the passing layman on the street knows any term is unfashionable, those at the cutting edge of the industry have forcibly broken down that reputation.
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Peterson takes the time-honoured processes of traditional Japanese sushi and sake and invigorates them with a dazzling array of Brazilian citruses. The cool, relaxing colour schemes and restrained decor help soothe you into the perfect environment, from which to be bowled over by a wasabi or shiso martini with a kororo sour.
These are just tantalising teasers before the full attraction – an eight-course sake and sushi omakase menu, of which highlights come thick and fast.
An octopus and cucumber salad with sesame was a light and refreshing tropical introduction. A sake with profiles of banana, pear and grapes refined from strong rice and with a dry finish is paired with an oyster of toro, uni and ikura. It’s a stunning example of a well-paired sake that uses fresh fruit to help balance the natural salinity of the ingredients.
The third sake pairing is a 60%-ground that’s polished, gentle and sophisticated yet sweet (served in a short wine glass), that pairs beautifully with kingfish and salmon with a sweet potato crisp. A citrus-forward snack best eaten with the hands, the crisp rice cup was the perfect vessel to hold on to the bright ceviche topped with a fine nest of sweet potato.
The fourth sake, a nashi pear – dry like a good wine – enjoyed almost as much on its own as it was with the tiradito kingfish and king salmon. Powerful flavours of truffle oil and fresh lime zest. Delicious and simple, the produce speaks for itself – dressed with chef’s secret dressing (we couldn’t come close to guessing), which was slurped from the plate.
An evolution takes place from course to course, the fifth sake is polished with a banana bread profile, notably the driest yet. This is then matched with a nigiri chef selection of delicate torched fish, tuna and uni on crisp rice, and raw prawn with mango salsa and fresh wasabi served on the side. By now, you should be checking for bookings.
The sixth was a personal favourite: a cucumber grape melon with a hazelnut finish and Peterson’s signature jyos. The most interesting textures of the night, the cucumber tuna and polanco caviar, salmon with ikura, and vegan mushroom and cabbage is an utter triumph.
However, it was the seventh dish that will perhaps stay with me the longest, so much so in fact, that I damn well have forgotten the sake it was paired with. A salmon avocado tempura maki, topped with strawberry and teriyaki. It has such a delightful exterior, the richness of salmon with a dot of cream cheese, garnished with fresh strawberry and tangy teriyaki. Every flavour noticeable in its own time, it transported me immediately back to my childhood, like I was a nostalgic reverie in a corny dining film.
We finished with wonderful desserts of fried banana in pastries with candied orange and a mint and cream cheese pannacotta with crumble, but when I say finished I really lie, for we’ll be returning as soon as possible.