Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

[Review] Miyazaki, Evergreen Street, Cork

Tanabata is the Japanese festival of the lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are separated by the Milky Way, and can only meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. And this year, there was a very special celebration of Tanabata held as part of the 2016 Clonmel Junction Festival. Cork-based chef Takashi Miyazaki would cook a celebratory dinner deep underground in Mitchelstown Cave, limited to just 28 diners. Tickets cost a relatively steep €95 each, with no alcohol to be served (for obvious safety reasons), but even so I jumped at the opportunity to dine in a cave. 

And what a beautiful, serene and stunning night it turned out to be. We arrived at the caves in bright, warm sunshine, only to descend down steep, treacherous steps to the caverns below. The temperature in the main cave remains a steady 12C all year round, which was quite a contrast to outside. Jackets and even blankets were called into service by many diners. We were seated at a long table, generously adorned with candles, potted ferns and beautiful Japanese illustrations. It was utterly beautiful and romantic.

Up above our heads, on a higher platform, Takashi and his team worked to prepare each course, using very limited cooking facilities (as a result of not wishing to damage the cave's internal atmosphere). We started with a glass of umesnu, or plum wine, followed by a variety of beautiful dishes featuring Takaszhi's skilful adept cooking. 
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Tanabata night
The beautiful setting in Mitchelstown Cave
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Takashi Miyazaki
Takashi Miyazaki overseeing dinner
Later that weekend, we visited Miyazaki's little restaurant, located at the foot of Barrack Street in Cork. Formerly an average Chinese takeaway that I'm sure I frequented in my student days, it's been very stylishly recast as a small restaurant with a handful of tall stools for those wishing to dine in. Takeaway is also available. My Cork-based sisters reliably informed me that evening queues for takeaway are not at all uncommon, showing how Cork diners have embraced this new arrival. 
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Wall hanging
Fish-themed wall hanging at Miyazaki
We arrived early, and had to wait outside for a few minutes underneath the beautiful geisha mural until the doors opened. Across the street, an Asian gentleman was likewise lurking and knowing that space inside was limited, we raced for the doors when they finally opened. Thankfully our potential competition was picking up some takeaway, and we gratefully took seats at the window counter. Outside the weather was typical Cork, grey and damp. Inside however, visible through the pass, Takashi and team were working in the kitchen, painstakingly plating food in deep concentration. We started with dishes from the standard menu. For me, chicken gyoza, light little dumplings, pan-fried and served with a dipping sauce. For him, a kaisou (seaweed) salad, assembled from mixed leaves and seaweed, served with a choice of a ponzu or sesame dressing. 
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Chicken gyoza
Chicken gyoza with dipping sauce
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Kaisou seaweed salad
Kaisou (seaweed) salad with sesame dressing
We both chose main courses from the daily specials board. My tori tatsuta donburi was a bowl of rice, topped with crispy fried dark meat chicken tossed in a sweet nanban sauce. Himself also chose a donburi (rice bowl), the salmon zuke donburi, topped instead with bright slices of raw salmon marinated in soy sauce, and beautiful bright fish roe. Both dishes were beautifully presented in Japanese dishes with loads of shredded vegetables and garnishes, making every mouthful a pleasure. 
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Tori tatsuta donburi
Tori tatsuta donburi (or fried chicken rice bowl)
Stitch and Bear - Miyazaki - Salmon zuke donburi
Salmon zuke donburi
Takashi's Lemon Ramen dish has already become the stuff of legend, but not was available when we visited. That is surely enough of a reason to return again. Word on the street is that Takashi is looking for another space in Cork to open an izakaya restaurant, in addition to the original takeaway. Now, as a Cork exile, I already think Cork is great (word of warning, all Cork people think Cork is great), but there's no doubt that Cork can claim that it has the best Japanese restaurant in Ireland. Sorry Dublin.

Miyazki, 1A Evergreen Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 431 2716
Twitter: @miyazakicork
Instagram: @miyazaki_cork

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