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Address :
175 Flinders Lane
Melbourne  VIC
Phone : 03 9671 4888 
Web-site : kisume.com.au
Opening times : Sushi bar -
Daily : 11.30am - late
Kuro Kisume -
Dinner : Tuesday - Saturday from 7pm
Cards :
AE DC MC V eftpos 
Licensing : Licensed
Seats : 12
Cost range :
$195 (per head for 3 courses plus coffee)
Restaurant rating :

Kisume occupies the ground Floor & basement as a sushi bar & restaurant, while Kuro Kisume on the first floor has a 12-seat "the table", private dining & chablis bar.
The sushi bar and lower level offers a more casual dining experience and the Chablis bar seafood and the fine wines of that northerly Burgundian outpost, but the 12-seat The Table is the high point both in quality and price. It's a 15-course degustation experience accompanied by the chef's explanation - equally dining and showtime. It's spectacular and most dishes work a treat, although all don't hit the high notes.

WINE : Fabulous list with more Chablis than you'll find in any restaurant in Chablis itself.


After the minute of taped phone announcement, I select "front desk" to be told before asking that the only tables available were 5pm and 9pm. It seemed abrupt and a bit lecturing, and far distant from warm hospitality. I already felt that I didn't want to dine at Kisume.

But everyone said it was a must-visit so I took the "drink in the Chablis Bar" option in the hope that a table might became free. Now I do love my Chablis, and Kisume has the most extensive and comprehensive range of Chablis I've seen outside of Chablis itself. If itýs good, and available in Australia, it's on their list.

So I presented myself at the aforesaid busy front desk and announced that I was ready to try my luck. Staff couldnýt have been more friendly and accommodating, and I was quickly escorted upstairs to the rather cool Chablis Bar. Now I know restaurants sit up and take notice when they realise they just might have a serious diner in their midst. Ordering top end Champagne (I don't mean some flash-Harry, big name wine like Dom or Cristal but a serious grower wine) or a fine white Burgundy lifts interest. So, maybe taking the flight option was a good move. The flight involved three premier cru vineyards from one winemaker (Louis Michel) cleverly chosen to show the variation of the east, west and south of the Chablis vignoble.

Shortly the maitre d' announced that, if my friends' arrival was imminent, we could have a table "until 9.30".

We started with spanking-fresh, perfectly-sized SA oysters, wandered into a flower garden of sashimi, and moved to a wooden tray of wonderful, artful, one-bite-sized sushi; sweet and fresh, the zest of freshly-grated wasabi shone behind these tasty morsels.

Ink-black wagyu "truffles", crumbed in black sesame, came with truffled mayo; crisp-battered ebi (prawn) tempura and juicy pork ribs followed. A bowl of miso, wherein the tofu flowered like a sea anemone from the depths of the broth, finished the savoury dishes.

Not everything was fabulous but there were stars, and nothing failed. The menu is reasonably extensive and quality of the seafood is exemplary.

My mate, recovering from tongue cancer, found his taste buds in decent form so was on a mission to investigate the excellent sake list, while I found some interesting wines from the extensive and broad-ranging wine list.

For sweets the "sesame sponge" seemed more an homage to Japanese flavours than anything of note, but the "layered pineapple" was visually appealing and a match with a stunning 2007 Chateau Rieussec.

By now we'd long out-stayed our 9.30 deadline but no-one even seemed to bother and other tables were vacant.

Attention to detail at Kisume appears in comfortable chairs, banquette seating at the right height (much rarer than you might imagine), and lovely tableware. Service is gracious and knowledgeable without pretention. This is smart restaurateuring.

So sip Chablis in its eponymous bar, knock back sashimi/sushi at the bar, or go the full kaiseki upstairs at Kuro Kisume, this is now a destination restaurant for Melbourne.

16 / 20

Christopher Hayes