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A Japanese seafood restaurant – in Melbourne? Surely such a niche establishment could not succeed. Would the infamously discerning food lovers of Melbourne take to the lobster ramen? Would they wolf down portions of lobster rolls and freshly shucked oysters with glee, or would they swerve the cuisine entirely? Would the flavours that were so loved and heralded in Japan translate as well across the sea? Opening an Unabara seafood restaurant in Melbourne was always going to be a risk. So why did we do it (twice!), and how did we succeed?
Well, Unabara (translating roughly to mean ‘of the sea’ in Japanese) was always going to be a little bit of a square peg in a round hole. We never set out to simply emulate popular Japanese seafood and serve it up to Melbourne while hoping for the best; we wanted to be the best. And so we decided instead to create something entirely new, by combining flavours from east and west, north and south.
Feeling too hungry to read on? Check out our Melbourne Central menu!
A unique seafood menu
Take, for example, the menu at our store over at the luxurious Emporium complex in Melbourne’s CBD. We source our oysters and lobsters from all Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland – always endeavouring to serve locally sourced produce – and we pair our seafood with European or American-inspired sauces, while staying true to our Japanese roots.
A great example is one of our specials – the grilled half South Australia rock lobster. We served this tasty fella with beer battered fries, a side salad, and we offer two choices of sauce, which together represent both east and west. First up you have mornay sauce with mashed potato. If you’re unfamiliar, mornay sauce is a type of béchamel sauce with added Gruyère, Emmental cheese, or white Cheddar. It is rich, it is creamy, it is delicious, it is fantastically French.
Your other sauce option is distinctly more eastern; a garlic buttery sauce containing a delicate splash of kombu soyu – a type of soy sauce with the savoury flavouring of soy and kelp, and thick in texture with a comparatively low salt content for soy sauce. This makes our kombu soyu a versatile, tastebud-tantalising sauce that will bring any dish to life.
Foodies and innovators combined
The complimentary pairing of eastern and western food preparation is evident all the way through our menu, apparent in the options for how we serve our lobster to the way we present our freshly shucked oysters. Our famous lobster rolls, to give you another example, can come New York style – with diced celery, red onion, mayo and chives – or, if you prefer, you can hop across the Pacific in your mind’s eye and instead dine Tokyo style – with nori, avocado, tobiko, cucumber, and wasabi mayonnaise. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
So there you have it – our vision laid out. We wanted to blend different kind of cooking from around the world and to experiment with the myriad flavours the international lobster scene has to offer, in order to present to the Melbourne public one of the very best seafood restaurants in the land. Coupled with an extensive list of drinks which includes many types of plum wine, sake, Japanese beer and Japanese whisky, Unabara’s internationally inspired menu continues to delight the hungry people of Melbourne every day. Don’t believe us? Pop on over and we’ll prove it!
Lobster & Oyster Bar
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