The biggest surprise for Saori and Kazuki Tsuya, when they moved their restaurant from Daylesford to Carlton, was the sense of community they've found in their new neighbourhood. "We thought that was something that we'd only find in the country," says Saori, "but there's so much community here too. I constantly see people connecting."
Kazuki's Carlton has opens November 21st in Lygon Street, near the corner of Queensberry Street – the same pocket that houses newly opened Super Ling and Torissong, and soon-to-open Leonardo's Pizza Palace.
Interior architects Design Office are behind the build. On the ground floor, rich mustard carpets, charcoal leather banquettes, timber screens and soft grey curtains create a tranquil mood, further enhanced by Japanese lanterns and light fixtures.
In a second dining room upstairs, a round, custom-built timber table has been given the shou sugi ban treatment – a centuries-old Japanese technique of preserving wood by torching it.
The brief was to express their Japanese identity without the restaurant looking too Japanese. "We're proud of our heritage but we love Australia and we wanted to mix all this together."
Saori and Kazuki plan to commute between their home in Daylesford, where they still operate the more casual Sakana restaurant, and Carlton. Kazuki will be executive chef of both restaurants, and Anthony Hammel (ex-Pei Modern) will be head chef in Carlton.
The Tsuyas are excited about the wider range of produce, particularly seafood, they can access in the city, and the influence it has already had on their Euro-Japanese menu. Dishes such as citrus-cured kingfish, and prawns with sake and avruga are on the menu. Other dishes include octopus teriyaki with eggplant, and duck with shiitake, cherry and black garlic. Both tasting menu (five or seven courses) and a la carte options are available.
"[The interior] is something we've spent a lot of time on and given a lot of thought to," says Saori. "When we opened Kazuki's in Daylesford in 2011, we did the best that we could do at the time. But this time, we've invested in creating a space that highlights our hospitality, our food… all of who we are."
Open Lunch Fri-Sun noon-3pm; dinner Tue-Sat 6pm-late.
121 Lygon Street, Carlton, 03 9349 2223 , kazukis.com.au