“Hand over heart, I’ve never eaten better sushi.” These enticing words were originally penned by John Lethlean, food critic for ‘The Australian’, who also happens to be the country’s sole national restaurant critic. As well, this is a man who has travelled extensively, sampling the wares of the world’s finest and most progressive kitchens. Keeping this in mind, it may astonish you to learn that, in fact, the opening quotation was not written in reference to a 5-star restaurant located in Japan, the ancestral home of the vinegared rice-backed dish. Rather, Lethlean is expressing his delight after having dined at one of Australia’s very own – specifically, at one of Melbourne’s very own. Located at 175 Flinders Lane in the CBD, Kisumé invites you to experience its multiple tiers of dining excellence, including the Sushi Counter, the Restaurant and the Chef’s Table.

While seated at the Sushi Counter, you are privy to observe the world-class chefs at work as they guide you on a culinary journey that embodies the seasonality of Australia’s finest seafood. As such, each visit to the Sushi Counter is unique, as the chefs’ visions and subsequent menu are evolving continuously. Kisumé’s main Restaurant is founded upon the purity and integrity of Japanese cuisine and infuses them with a genuine Australian sensibility. You will discover and enjoy dishes that are both familiar and unfamiliar. The primary attribute that all dishes share, however, is that they are created to highlight the freshest local produce. Upon entering the Restaurant, you will be engulfed in a fusion of design, art and dining – an experience like no other. While adapting to the dreamlike quality of this space, you may be unconsciously seduced by the bold and emotive works from famed photographers Nobuyoshi Araki and Polly Borland, the latter having been born in Melbourne and now residing in Los Angeles. Araki’s photography combines bondage and eroticism in a fine art context. Additionally, it is worth noting that he has published over 500 books – prolific, to say the very least.


We have now arrived at the top of Kisumé’s three tiers of dining excellence, appropriately called the Chef’s Table. Think intimate and contemporary. The founding principle behind Kisumé’s penultimate experience is one of seasonality, a principle that draws on the rich abundance of local produce from both the land and sea. The Chef’s Table is, not surprisingly, presided over by the Master Chef. The Master Chef makes it his mission to demonstrate and highlight the technique, skill and creative freedom of Japanese craftsmanship, thus encapsulating the long-held and long-practised traditions of respect and hospitality. This is the most exclusive of the three tiers, in every sense of the word. The Chef’s Table seats a mere 12 guests and offers a multi-course prix fix menu. It is available for dining Tuesday-Saturday evenings and Friday-Saturday lunch. Bookings are highly – repeat, highly – recommended.

Finally, whether you are seeking a pre-dinner, post-dinner or off-the-street imbibing adventure, go no further than the Chablis Bar. Located beyond the Winewall™, an awesomely continuous gallery of glass cabinets housing more than 1,000 collectable wines and sakes from around the globe (and receptive to customer visits, FYI), the Chablis Bar is home to the largest Australian selection of “the world’s purest expression of chardonnay”. The true magic of Chablis lies within its structure, perfectly balancing crispiness (acidity) and minerality, thereby making it the ideal accompaniment to all things from the sea. The Chablis Bar also serves cocktails, a myriad of other wine varieties, sake, whisky and much, much more in an ultra-elegant and comfortable setting. It is but one part of the overall experience; however, like all memorable journeys, Kisumé offers something considerably greater than the mere sum of its parts. In their own words, “The Kisumé journey is tailored individually, whatever your taste may be.” Enough said, really.

Lifestyle & Design

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