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Sunday, April 02, 2017

Masaaki's Sushi, Geeveston

Sushi chef Masaaki Koyama with a platter of sushi at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania

The small township of Geeveston, popuation 1,431, is the last place that most people would think of to head for sushi. Tasmanian locals know better. This picturesque town in the Huon Valley is the home of Masaaki's Sushi run by Masaaki Koyama, a Japanese sushi chef who followed his heart, and a Tasmanian sweetheart to her home.

Koyama, who worked as a sushi chef in Osaka, has been a sushi chef for 28 years. His small sushi shop in Geeveston is only open two days a week for a lunchtime service. The rest of the time you'll likely find him surfing.

Dining room at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Dining room at Masaaki's Sushi

There's a small dining room here but you have to pre-book if you want to eat in. It's a surprise to many tourists, who spot empty tables but have to make do with takeaway. There's a simple reason. Koyama is the only sushi chef in the kitchen and can barely keep up with takeaway orders. The eat-in set menu requires at least a day's notice in prep time.

Photos of Masaaki Koyama with Wakuda Tetsuya and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Photos of Masaaki Koyama with Wakuda Tetsuya and Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai 

The set menu lunch when we dine is just $34. It's about a one hour drive south (60km) from Hobart to Geeveston.

Surfing sushi chef Masaaki Koyama in the kitchen at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Head chef and owner Masaaki Koyama in the kitchen

Koyama is all smiles in the kitchen when we arrive. You can see straight into the kitchen prep area from the takeaway queue. The display cabinet of sushi and sashimi is bordering on empty. Koyama works quickly to restock both the cabinet and prepare dishes for his eat-in customers.

Miso soup at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Miso soup

We start with miso soup, a much heartier and homier version than the ones you often find in restaurants. Here the white miso broth is crammed with carrots that have been simmered until soft as well as wakame seaweed and spring onions. Digging in for each spoonful is like uncovering hidden treasure.

Sushi platter for four at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Sushi platter for four

Our sushi platter includes six different fillings ranging from raw salmon to seafood sticks to vegetarian rolls.

Grating fresh wasabi at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Grating fresh wasabi

Resident wasabi grating expert, Allan, treats us to a demonstration. The wasabi root is tougher than you'd expect, requiring a rigorous amount of wristwork to render it into a paste.

Fresh wasabi root on an oroshigane copper grater at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Fresh wasabi root on an oroshigane copper grater

It takes several minutes before he can retire the oroshigane, the traditional copper grater. After he's tapped the wasabi clear of the grater, he chops it roughly again and shapes it into a log.

Fresh wasabi at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Fresh wasabi

Fresh wasabi is unlike the horseradish paste tinted a lurid shade of green you find in almost all sushi shops. There's still that mustardy rush to the sinuses but it's not half as harsh. You'll note, too, a broader complexity of aromas and flavours that's infinitely more nuanced than horseradish. It's a little softer and gentler, with a slightly citrusy and vegetal flavour. Once grated, the wasabi starts to lose its piquancy within five to ten minutes.

Vegetable sushi wrapped in omelette at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Vegetable sushi wrapped in omelette

We dip all our sushi rolls and slices into soy sauce (seasoned with a strip of dried wakame for extra umami) and add a smear of the fresh wasabi. There are futomaki (fat rolled sushi) as well as uramaki (inside out) sushi rolls. The sushi rolled up in thin golden sheets of omelette (usuyaki tamago) are particularly impressive.

The sushi filings are simple, filled with plenty of vegetables like shredded carrot, beetroot and cucumber, some of which are grown in his home garden.

Salmon nigiri sushi at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Salmon nigiri sushi

Salmon nigiri sushi is simple but delicious. Each slice of salmon mirrors the other, right down to the little tail at the end resting gently on the platter.

Inari tofu pockets at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Inari tofu pockets 

Inari tofu pockets are stuffed generously with seasoned rice, mixed through with grated beetroot, shredded carrot, crunchy sesame seeds and toasted almonds.

Aburi salmon sushi at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Aburi salmon sushi

The smoky kiss of a blowtorch has converted the fattiness of salmon belly into a mouthful of melt-in-the-mouth lusciousness. The aburi salmon sushi, brushed lightly with soy sauce, is a highlight.

Duck with tamago at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Roast duck with tamago

Our final dish is roast duck, served with a slice of rolled omelette, or tamago.

Crisp skinned duck at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania
Crisp skinned duck

The duck breast is lean but tender, with a skin that has been rendered to a crisp. We dunk it in the accompanying sweetened soy dressing and slowly appreciate the delicate layers of the rolled tamago.

Surfing sushi chef Masaaki Koyama in the kitchen at Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania

There are no whiz bang whistles or airs of grandeur here, and that's what makes Masaaki's Sushi so endearingly charming. And while the bad news is that Masaaki's Sushi is no longer running a stall at Hobart's Farm Gate Market (the last service was on February 14, 2017), plans are in motion for the restaurant to extend its trading hours. That's good news for everyone.

Masaaki's Sushi in Geeveston, Tasmania


Masaaki's Sushi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Masaaki's Sushi
20B Church Street, Geeveston, Tasmania
Tel: +61 (0)408 712 340

Opening hours:
Friday and Saturday 11.30am-2pm or unti sold out
Closed Sunday to Thursday

Cash only

Bookings are essential to dine in. If you do not have a reservation, you can only order take away.


>> Read the next Tasmania 2017 post - Sweet Envy, Hobart
<< Read the first Tasmania 2017 post - Pigeon Hole Bakers, Hobart


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 4/02/2017 07:25:00 pm


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