Look beyond the pared-back aesthetic and there’s an irreverence in the details. The edgy photography by Polly Borland and Nobuyoshi Araki isn’t what you’d expect to see on the walls of an opulent Japanese dining room, but this is Melbourne and Kisumé is the latest project from the Lucas Group. Having previously conjured hospitality magic with its fun and funky eateries – the best known is party-all-the-time Asian-fusion eatery Chin Chin just 150m up Flinders Lane – this time the vibe is more sophisticated.
Across three levels, architecture firm Wood Marsh, working on its first restaurant project in 20 years, and designer Fabio Ongarato have used a minimal palette – concrete, timber flooring, matt brass trim – to create a variety of spaces. The basement is the buzzing hot-food hub with ramen and tempura on the menu, while at ground level guests sit across a solid bamboo bar where chefs produce sushi and sashimi with seafood sourced in Australia and New Zealand. Upstairs is an exclusive 12-seat omakase-style set-up alongside two private dining rooms and the wine wall where selections of chablis, pinot noir, riesling and rare sake and Japanese whiskies are stashed.
An all-star selection of global talent has been assembled, with master chef Moon Kyung Soo backed by sushi masters Yosuke and Shimpei Hatanakain in the kitchen, and on the floor, from New York, is general manager Markus Tschuschnig from Masa and sommelier Jonathan Ross who has just arrived in Melbourne from Eleven Madison Park.