A tiny four-seat restaurant serving up the best kaiseki experience in Melbourne.
November 22, 2023
Matsu has just four seats. We'll let that sink in while you keep reading. Owner and chef Hansol Lee spent over a decade in the kitchens of Kenzan — one of the best restaurants in Melbourne — before opening his own tiny venue in Footscray. Matsu offers diners a truly unique experience through the Japanese style of dining known as kaiseki.
While similar to omakase, kaiseki, which originated from Japanese tea ceremonies, has slight differences. If omakase is relaxed, kaiseki is more formal. If omakase has a flamboyant chef you can interact with, kaiseki has a more focused chef with limited interaction. If omakase is a free-flowing menu with whatever is fresh that day, kaiseki is a predetermined set menu focusing on traditional structures.
What they have in common, however, is a multi-course meal where the dishes are decided for you and watching the chef at work is a huge part of the experience. And when it comes to soy, the chef will let you know whether to add any or not, and it's best you listen to them.
The feast at Matsu will include a series of small courses — appetisers, steamed items, nigiri, hassun (which means eight-sun, and this part of the experience includes some of the more visually stunning dishes and is entirely at the chef's discretion), soup, sashimi, a boiled course and dessert.
It is a long and enormous feast of spectacular Japanese food, served up like tiny sculptures. It's edible art that tastes incredible.
Just remember the restaurant has four seats. So book ahead, if you can, that is.
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