Market Lane in the city is where you go to complete the Melbourne Asian foodie’s trinity – Flower Drum, Hutong Dumpling and Shoya.

Shoya is a multi-storey venture into Japanese food. The basement and ground floor houses traditional Japanese BBQ, first floor is traditional Japanese seating providing a la carte and degustation dining and the second floor is the sushi counter. There are also karaoke rooms and an executive lounge on the upper floors.


Although I would have loved to try a degustation option, given the high prices ($100 and above) and that one of our party was a student, we opted for the cheaper BBQ option with meat and seafood at $59.  The “Gouka Tokusen” Special set still provided an abundance of food. We started off with Wagyu sashimi (thinly sliced fresh raw Wagyu beef) and a small bowl of salad. Then platter after platter was brought out to be cooked over the smokeless Japanese grills, from rib of Wagyu beef, Wagyu beef sirloin, thin rounds of ox tongue, juicy pieces of pork belly, marinated chicken, vegetables, huge prawns, scallops, squid florets, rather chewy abalone and kingfish. All this plus steamed rice, a bowl of warming miso soup and a choice of red bean, black sesame or green tea ice cream for dessert.

Oh, and I also opted for a serving of sea urchin cheesecake ($12) just because I couldn’t resist the adventure. On tasting the fluffy cheesecake I couldn’t detect any sea urchin at all, but the waitress informed me with delight, as if revealing the answer to a puzzle, that it actually consisted of 30% sea urchin. It seems a bit bizarre to use such an expensive ingredient in a dish where you can’t actually taste it, but now I know (and you know) what sea urchin cheesecake tastes like.

We had a lovely night at Shoya as all of the food was fresh and carefully prepared and I thought that quantity and quality of the food was good value for the price. However, I won’t go for the Japanese BBQ next time – I mean, how innovative can you be with barbecue? I’d rather save my money for a proper degustation, or else try the $28 Shoya set lunch menu which my friend J and Eat My Radish tells me is delicious.

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