Izakaya Kuuraku, Melbourne CBD

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MELBOURNE | Izakaya Kuuraku is a Japanese izakaya chain with outlets in Japan, Canada, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and most recently Australia. The first (and currently only) Kuuraku in Australia opened in Melbourne a little while ago and being big fans of yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), which Kuuraku specialise in, we were keen to visit as soon as we heard about it.

Kuuraku is located in quite a large space that’s unlike your typical izakaya. High ceilings and large windows that look out on the street give it a very open vibe. An assortment of tables fill the restaurant, with space to fit just a few people, or large groups. A bar breaks things up in the centre of the venue while a large screen plays live sports. It’s a low lit, busy place that lacks the cozy vibe of a typical izakaya, but still feels welcoming, in large part down to the service, which is friendly and attentive.

The lunch menu features set menus, bento boxes, noodle bowls, and an assortment of a la carte options, while the dinner menu expands on this significantly with an assortment of yakitori, sushi, gyoza, specialties and more. We ordered a selection of yakitori, along with some sushi and specialty items. The yakitori is the highlight here, with the perfectly grilled chicken presented in a variety of ways. The negima (chicken thigh and leek skewers) is a must order, and available seasoned with salt or teriyaki sauce. The mentia yaki (mentaiko (seasoned cod roe) and chicken breast) is also fantastic.

Unfortunately the full range of chicken that you expect at a yakitori venue isn’t on offer here – it’s mostly breast or thigh with no heart, liver, or skin. As well as chicken there’s also pork belly, beef, lamb, and vegetarian options. A highlight from the specialty menu is Yougan-Yaki – it’s chicken thigh that’s grilled on lava stone at table served with yuzukosho (Japanese green chilli sauce). The meat is tender, flavoursome, and has a tasty char to it.

For sushi that Battera is very tasty. It comes in a serve of eight pieces and features marinated mackerel that’s seared at the table with sushi rice, shiso, yuzu miso, lemon, pickled ginger, and wasabi. The flavours are well balanced, however the rice does fall apart when you try to pick it up with chopsticks so it’s a dish best eaten with your hands. The pan fried prawn gyoza are also delicious, with nicely crisped edges and a good balance of filling to dumpling skin.

For drinks its a few Japanese beers and Mountain Goat on tap, along with an assortment of Japanese lagers and a few Japanese craft beers. There’s sake, wine and spirits, along with a few specialty Japanese drinks, cocktails, soft drinks and tea.

When a Japanese chain opens in Australia it’s difficult to know whether it will be as good as it is in Japan. In Japan the word ‘chain’ doesn’t have the same negative connotations it does here, any many Japanese chains are fantastic. Kuuraku impressed us overall. While there is better yakitori and izakaya style food in Melbourne, everything we tried at Kuuraku was been enjoyable, the service was great, and the pricing keen, making for a venue that lends itself in particular to larger groups, and one we’d happily return to.

Izakaya Kuuraku

131 Bourke Street
Melbourne
Victoria 3000
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9939 1516
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Mon – Thu: 6:30am to 2:30pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Fri: 6:30am to 2:30pm; 5:00pm to 10:30pm
Sat: 7:00am to 2:30pm; 4:00pm to 10:30pm
Sun: 7:00am to 2:30pm; 5:00pm to 10:00pm

Izakaya Kuuraku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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