When Emporium landed Din Tai Fung a year or so ago, it was a serious coup. A culinary signpost saying, ‘We may be a fancy shopping centre, but we’re gonna do proper food too.’
Since then the centre’s gourmet CV has expanded steadily, and the latest business to join the fold is Unabara, a Japanese izakaya, lobster and oyster bar on Level 1. If you haven’t tried izakaya before, it’s pretty much the Japanese equivalent of tapas—built around small plates and shared dishes. The idea being: try a bit of everything and stop ordering salmon sashimi over and over again.
Let’s start with the lobsters. Unabara’s chefs get up at the crack of dawn to hit up Melbourne’s fish markets, sourcing fresh-caught West Australian rock lobster, tropical lobster from Queensland and live South Australian lobsters. You can order these off the lobster menu, and each one’s got a subtly different flavour. If you’re after an intro, go the New England-style lobster roll: delicate lobster meat inside a split-top bun, with a dash of mayo, celery and chives. There's even a little clarified butter on the side if you wanna go nuts.
The restaurant is also dishing up Unabara rolls (go the Okinawa soft shell crab and the Nagasaki tempura prawn), along with an encyclopedic oyster menu. Everything from St Helens Pacific oysters from Tassie, up to Coffin Bay and Smoky Bay from South Australia. Natural is always great (we're a sucker for lemon juice), but for a twist, order your oysters ‘Ponzu’ style, with a kicking citrus vinaigrette
Unabara is running alongside Gyoza Gyoza in the same space, so you can supplement your lobster catch with a range of izakaya plates and boutique sakes. The venue is also gonna be running regular Japanese wine tasting and sake matching classes, so keep an eye on their Facebook for all the info.
Break out the claw crackers, Melbourne. This sh*ts gonna get messy.
Image credit: Griffin Simm