Rachael Kealy visits Japanese restaurant Miyazaki, in a quiet corner of Cork city.
In the days before Uber and Hailo, we used to spend Saturday nights in the cramped, cosy confines of a taxi rank, tucking into curry chips and diet coke while awaiting a lift home. Despite the gravel-voiced dispatcher and the cracked plastic couch, it was a veritable Bacchanalian feast.
That experience was called to mind recently when I visited Miyazaki, in a quiet corner of Cork city. The host was a perfectly genial twenty-something, and the aroma was significantly better, but the dimensions were similar.
Most of the space is given over to the kitchen, with just a handful of seats for customers. While waiting for an elusive stool, we nibbled on crisped mackerel spine – part of the chef’s efforts to reduce waste – and pondered the many daily specials.
Faced with such an appetising spread – and a lengthening queue behind us – I settled on chicken gyoza (€6). Crisp, crinkled edges gave way to soft, flavoursome centres, accompanied by a shallow bowl of homemade ponzu sauce. Each crescent-shaped dumpling bore the delicious golden-black hue of the pan. They couldn’t have been a more perfect starter, these miniature emissaries of Japanese cuisine.
We followed with sushi, although something about the cold, clammy rice and duplicate-paper seaweed fails to appeal to my frigid Irish soul. The first bite of our tempura maki (€10.50) dispelled my provincial reservations and reminded me of the simple, uncomplicated joy of lightly-battered prawns, fresh cucumber and sticky rice.
My companion’s shiso ribs (€5.50) arrived bathed in miso marinade, a salty oil-slick with sesame seeds. Plunging our chopsticks into the tender, juicy pork revealed an Atlantis of flavour, evidence of quality ingredients and a near-divine level of patience.
Our hot bowls followed, each arriving with a plume of heavenly-scented steam. The yuzu shio kombu ramen (€14.50) was an astonishingly accomplished dish: slices of lemon and sunrise-orange egg yolk floated prettily, underpinned by thick chunks of hearty pork belly and a sheet of crisp kombu, with a mohawk of pale onion running through the centre. When the bowl was almost dry, I picked up a ceramic spoon, unwilling to leave behind a drop of this exquisite concoction.
The beef soba (€12.50) was an altogether plainer affair, although no less impressive on the flavour front. A bowl of hot, nourishing broth served to bolster a mound of thinly-sliced tendrils of beef, coiling playfully around soft buckwheat noodles. Dashi – the umami-laden stock that forms the base of these dishes – is, much like bouillon, something of an edible signature of the chef who created it. Each sip told a story of considered, careful preparation, and an alchemist’s skill in flavour combinations.
Chef owner Takashi refers to Japanese food as a ‘treasure box’. He’s being modest, I believe. In his cramped Cork quarters, he has created an unassuming Tower of London, a place in which only the most precious of jewels are kept.
We Loved: the nourishing, authentic food and fuss-free environment
We Spent: €53.50 on five dishes, with two Oolong teas.
1a Evergreen Street, Cork City.
Tel: +353 (0)21 4312716;
Open: Tues – Sun 1pm to 4pm and 5pm to 9pm
For a great dashi recipe from Takashi click here