Japanese whisky bars take their liquor seriously. That’s why, when opening our izakaya-influenced establishment Gyoza Gyoza, we set out to stock its shelves with as many delicious Japanese whiskies, sake, and beers as possible. Our aim was to create an environment that captured the intimacy, familiarity and relaxed atmosphere of izakaya bars in Japan.
Becoming one of the best Japanese whisky bars in Melbourne required us to utilise our knowledge of Japanese flavours, customs and tastes, and to combine them with Australian culture to create an exciting new restaurant and bar combination. Along with our food selection, we have tried to create a drinks menu that contains something for everybody – so whether you’re a beer drinker, a wine connoisseur, a whisky aficionado, a cider lover, or you are seeking to try one of the many dozens of sake we have on offer, Gyoza Gyoza will provide.
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One of our most popular whiskys on offer is Suntory Whisky, a premium Japanese whisky offered in flavours including lemon, lime, lychee, and passion grapefruit. Suntory is a Japanese institution, having produced delicious spirits since 1923, when they opened the country’s first ever distillery at Yamazaki. Suntory produce grain, blended and single malt whiskies, and regularly reveal new limited edition drinks and unique bottle designs, adding to the brand’s palpable elegance.
Although it may seem a million miles from life in Melbourne, Japanese whisky was initially created in an effort to recreate Scotch whisky. This is evident even in the spelling: ‘whisky’, the Scottish spelling, over ‘whiskey’, the Irish version. Early distilleries in Japan were situated at sites with an environment and climate that was similar to Scotland, in order to recreate the exquisite flavours as minutely as possible.
Uniquely Japanese Production
A key difference in Japanese whisky and whiskies elsewhere in the world is the production process. Because distilleries and brands of whiskies may be owned by a hodge-podge of different companies in other countries, the blending process may use combinations of these that reach beyond any one company. However, in Japan whisky companies own particular whiskies as well as the distilleries, which means that a blended whisky in Japan will almost certainly contain only whisky from the distilleries that particular company owns.
Since whisky’s inception in Japan, many critics have suggested that Japanese distilleries have long-since surpassed their Scottish counterparts. Indeed, today if you are searching for the smoothest, most delicious whiskies in the world, Japan is the best country to start your search - or of course, you could save yourself a little money and simply nip on over to Gyoza Gyoza!
Japanese Whisky as a Status Symbol
Over the years, Japanese whisky has become both a status symbol and a staple of izakaya-drinking. Despite its existence in the country since 1923 (and possibly even earlier outside large-scale distilleries), Japanese whisky didn’t truly explode until the 70’s and 80’s. With Japanese industry spreading across the globe and money flooding into the country, Japanese businesspeople would often end a frantic working day with a visit to a whisky bar or izakaya, where they would consume a whisky or three before heading home.
The whisky business in Japan slumped at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with the economy slowing and the consequent decline of businesspeople running wild tending to slow the sale of whisky. However, in more recent years this downward trend has turned around, with new economic success bringing with it a whisky-scented nostalgia for the eighties. In Tokyo today, take a walk through Shinjuku and you’ll once more see suited and booted individuals ducking inside an izakaya for a crisp glass of Suntory after a hard day’s work. Of course, you don’t have to travel to Tokyo if you’re looking to wet your whistle. Come and pay a visit to Gyoza Gyoza!
Been searching Melbourne for a bite-sized slice of nutritious, delicious heaven? You need sashimi. Sashimi (刺身), originating from Japan and translating roughly as ‘stabbed meat’, is any thinly sliced, raw food – especially fish. It is one of the most well-loved methods of preparing food in Japan, and is one of the most common ways of consuming seafood, alongside sushi. The key difference between sashimi and sushi is their presentation, and the fact that sushi is typically served with vinegared rice.
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Sashimi is, aside from being a delicious treat, a meticulously prepared and beautifully arranged dish. Available at a huge variety of Japanese restaurants and izakaya, the thinly sliced food (which can be anything from beef to venison) is traditionally served on a bed of daikon. Daikon, if you’ve never tried it before, is a large Japanese radish, and is often used as a refreshing and healthy ingredient in dishes that may otherwise be oily, such as tempura and certain fish dishes. It has a certain radish-like kick to it, though when cooked this gives way to a crunchy sweetness that compliments sashimi perfectly.
How to eat sashimi the Japanese way
The most popular sashimi in Japan is tuna, which is also one of the most common ingredients in sushi. Salmon is another popular choice, desired for its strong flavours, low fat, and high protein. When it comes to eating sashimi, typically a dish will be lightly flavoured with soy sauce – by dipping the meats into the sauce, rather than dousing it in it.
Everybody’s tastes vary, but it is not uncommon for Japanese diners to add a little wasabi to their mouthful. Avoid mixing wasabi and soy sauce together – you’ll draw some strange looks if you do! Instead, take your chopsticks and drop a small amount of wasabi and place it on top of your chosen meat, before dipping into the soy sauce. In this way, the wasabi will stay high and dry on the top of your meat, and the soy sauce will flavour the underside. Everyone’s a winner!
Types of Sashimi
The wide range of ingredients that can be served as sashimi means that anybody visiting Japan or seeking to try the country’s cultural delights from afar – like in Gyoza Gyoza, for example! – will be able to find sashimi served all year round.
Salmon (sake) sashimi is, along with tuna, one of the most ubiquitous kinds of sashimi. Salmon sashimi is typically bright in colour, with cuts of salmon being chosen especially for this reason. Salmon sashimi is not only tender in the mouth and vibrant on the tongue, it is also packed with beneficial nutrients.
Tuna (maguro) sashimi is without a doubt one of the most common types of sashimi in Melbourne. As a main ingredient, tuna is extremely flavoursome, aromatic, and lean. Varying cuts and qualities of tuna are available, each offering their own texture and flavour, as well as differing health benefits.
Surf clam (hokkigai) sashimi is one of our favourites on our menu. Served with a crunchy and mouth-watering side of tsukemono – mixed Japanese vegetables – hokkigai is typically lightly boiled before serving, until most other sashimi. This enhances the flavour, brightens the appearance, and firms the meat.
Feeling peckish yet? If you’re salivating at the thought of sitting down to dine at a table laden with all manner of tantalising sashimi, remember - you’re only a phone call away from making a booking with Gyoza Gyoza!