29 March 2023

Inari brings Japanese of a different stripe to Tiger Lane

| Lucy Ridge
Bowl of popcorn shrimp

The popcorn shrimp at Inari was a highlight of the tasting menu. Photo: Supplied.

Inari is the second restaurant to open in the Tiger Lane dining precinct on the ground floor of the Canberra Centre. Taki, the first restaurant in Tiger Lane, focuses on Shabu Shabu hotpot and Yakiniku Japanese barbecue, while Inari is billed as contemporary Japanese dining.

I visited with a friend on a weeknight to try out their tasting menu which features seven dishes from the main menu, all served to share.

We started with deliciously salty edamame beans, a nice snack alongside the Yuzu Gimlet and Lychee Mojito cocktails. Beautifully presented sashimi came next, served with sinus-tingling wasabi and shredded daikon radish. Quirky ramekins for soy sauce were filled from a pottery vessel. High-quality ingredients are essential for sashimi and Inari got’s that covered.

Popcorn shrimp was a menu highlight for us. Tempura-fried prawns with a creamy, spicy sauce and yuzu-dressed greens. It was crispy and creamy with an outstanding balance of flavours. I could happily eat a big bowl of those moreish popcorn pieces any day.

Two chefs clink glasses at table covered in food

Executive chef Shaun Presland and head chef Maria Sheslow at Inari. Photo: Supplied.

A dish of ceviche came covered with a sheet of nori which, when lifted, revealed a plate of seafood in a tart, citrusy dressing. The nori was a little inelegant to divide with chopsticks (although I’m very willing to admit to user error) and the sweet potato crisps served on the side were a nice vessel to scoop up the ceviche.

We also enjoyed the Wagyu Sirloin, graded at 9+, indicating the highest level of intramuscular fat marbled through the meat. The beef was chargrilled and served medium rare with carrot puree and a small side of mushrooms with spinach. Also on the plate were pieces of crumbed beef (almost like a croquette) which our server explained were made from the offcuts of the wagyu steak as a delicious way to reduce wastage and showcase the meat in a different way.

This dish was served with three anticucho sauces, including a delicious yellow pepper puree and a side of very tasty corn ribs.

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Several of the dishes on the tasting menu were what I would associate with nikkei food: a traditional Peruvian and Japanese fusion cuisine that Canberrans might be familiar with from nearby restaurant Inka. I hadn’t anticipated so many nikkei-influenced dishes at Inari, so seeing dishes like the ceviche and corn ribs on the menu was something of a surprise, but not unwelcome, as the dishes were all delicious, inventive and masterfully executed.

table covered in beautifully presented dishes with hands holding chopsticks

The food at Inari is contemporary Japanese with a nod towards a Peruvian influence. Photo: Supplied.

It was also a very protein-heavy menu, so I was already pretty satisfied when dessert rolled around: tofu and ricotta cheesecake, served with kiwifruit coulis, digestive crumble and dusted with matcha. It was creamy, not too sweet, and well-balanced in flavour and texture. Despite feeling full, I made some space for the tasty treat.

Staff were friendly and helpful, although we did occasionally need to prompt for extra information about a few of the dishes. The chefs were happy to accommodate my friend’s dietary requirements with a couple of substitutions.

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We were seated in a low row with several other dining duos. Despite having space for larger bookings, tables for two were in hot demand that evening. A little more elbow room between the tables would have been nice. We were initially worried that we would spend the whole evening eavesdropping on the conversation happening at the next table, but once the meal got underway, there was enough ambient noise that we didn’t notice.

The menu also features a section of maki rolls and sashimi which I would like to try another time, or perhaps I’d visit for one of the bento box lunch specials.

Fresh sashimi in bamboo basket

Inari’s menu has a fresh sashimi section. Photo: Supplied.

Inari is located in The Canberra Centre, 148 Bunda St (Ground Level, between Bunda Street and Scotts Crossing). It’s open seven days a week between 12 noon and 3 pm for lunch and from 5 pm for dinner.
Follow Inari on Facebook or Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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