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 28, 2019

[Review] Ichigo Ichie, Sheares Street, Cork

Visiting a restaurant with a freshly broken ankle is not something I'd normally recommend doing. However, when the restaurant in question is Cork City's only Michelin-starred restaurant, and the reservation was made several months before, then you can understand why I was determined to visit. Thus I found myself, two weeks after fracturing my fibula, slowly hobbling along Sheares Street and into the calm interior of Ichigo Ichie. 

The story of Takashi Miyazaki is the type of story we all love to hear. Takashi came to Ireland in 2008 after spending his career working in a 5* star hotel and travelling around Japan, exploring the different regional cuisines. Like all good stories, he fell in love with an Irishwoman and the rest is history. Leaving Japan behind, he had a dream of opening his own restaurant, and he succeeded in 2015 with the eponymous Miyazaki which bought casual Japanese food to Cork. But the dream wasn't over for this quietly determined man and, in April 2018, he opened the fine dining Ichigo Ichie. Accolades were quickly earned crowned with the awarding of a Michelin star a mere 6 months later. 
Stitch & Bear - Ichigo Ichie - Welcome
Welcome to Ichigo Ichie

Ichigo Ichie translates as "Once in a lifetime" and is a kaiseki restaurant. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course form of dining, and that is evident in the paper menu in front of each diner which elaborates the 12 courses that make up the dinner. And in case you are concerned about marking your menu with your dinner, don't worry. On departure, each diner receives a fresh copy along with a version in traditional Japanese calligraphy. 

If you've ever eaten at Miyazaki on Evergreen Street, be advised that Ichigo Ichie is a totally different experience. The former Fenn's Quay restaurant has been transformed into a dark and calming interior, with all focus drawn to the far end and the 6-seater kappou counter. Dressed in immaculate chef's whites, this is where you will find Miyazaki himself, calmly preparing each dish and directing service. This isn't just food, this is art, which is reflected in the different Japanese features spaced throughout the room. 
Stitch & Bear - Ichigo Ichie - Amuse
Amuse of tuna and torched scallop
Miyazaki has embraced Ireland and many of the dishes fuse together the very best of Irish produce with classical Japanese techniques. The end result is seamless integration. Think sweet Lough Neagh eel sitting on a plate with an intense, mouth-warming almond tofu. Or how about Dublin Bay prawn and Ballycotton crab with hen of the woods in a delicate, refined dashi. Crowe Farm pork belly, Leamlara pak choi, Kilbrack organic carrots. This is a restaurant that wears provenance proudly. For dessert, Bushby's Rosscarbery strawberries are combined with elderflower and hassaku grapefruit in a gorgeous sable tart. 
Stitch & Bear - Ichigo Ichie - Sashimi
Selection of sashimi - tuna, monkfish and salmon
Stitch & Bear - Ichigo Ichie - Grilled sardine
Grilled sardine with turnip
Stitch & Bear - Ichigo Ichie - Strawberry, elderflower and grapefruit sable
Strawberry, elderflower and grapefruit sable
From start to finish, dishes flowed smoothly from the kappou counter to our table. Numerous techniques from raw to marinated, grilled to slow-cooked were on display, showcasing the rich diversity of Japanese cooking. It's practically impossible to fully recap each and every dish and if I tried, I'd fail. So I'll finish by saying that Ichigo Ichie is truly something special. 

PS: the space age toilet is also something special but that's for a whole other day. 

Ichigo Ichie is quietly doing good things for Cork, bringing in a new wave of gastro tourists who want to experience Michelin-starred Japanese food. Even our taxi driver was up to speed, having eaten many times at the original Miyazaki restaurant. Cork people are proud of Miyazaki's star, and rightly so.

Ichiego Ichie, 5 Sheares Street, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 427 9997
URL: www.ichigoichie.ie
Twitter: @miyazakicork
Insta: @miyazaki_cork
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