If you're craving quality Japanese food that hits the upper echelons of dining experiences, then you should consider a flight to Melbourne if you're not lucky enough to live there already.
The traditional bento box has been given an haute cuisine makeover thanks to Ishizuka's head chef Hitoshi Miyazawa –a trained kaiseki master who plates traditional Japanese food for you to enjoy within the privacy of your own home.
The Melbourne restaurant, awarded two hats by the Good Food Guide 2019, brings a multi-course dining experience in a limited limited edition bento box (priced at $255 for two). It's highest-grade restaurant quality takeout getting a luxury tweak.
This top shelf bento experience is limited to one per day – all in the name of freshness of course. There's no churn and burn method here, with chef Miyazawa taking hours to carefully prepare the portable feast.
Old world dining
Kaiseki is known for its multi-course seasonal dishes, where ingredients are fresh and techniques like steaming and simmering rate highly – it all comes down to precision and method.
This style of cooking originated in Kyoto, usually served on a tatami mat with tea ceremony and geisha involved too, but it's made a comeback in the modern dining setting in Australia. Albeit sans the geisha.
Few restaurants in Australia allow you to take a luxury pack like this home though but with only one on offer daily you need to be the first to speed dial Ishizuka between 3-7pm, Wednesday to Sunday to be the lucky diner.
From Japan, to you
Produce is flown in from Tokyo and selected locally with Miyazawa hell bento on making sure you're impressed from the first bite to the last.
The multi-tiered bento is elegantly prepared with the first tier featuring char grilled duck breast, simmered prawns plus octopus and Kamaboko kouhaku (red and white fish cake) for small bite sized items.
The second course includes wagyu tataki and abalone while the third is split between sweet and savoury – think cooked lobster and simmered periwinkle plus green tea almond cake and daifuku [that's sticky rice cake] for the ultimate sweet tooth.
There are approximately 16 neatly packed dishes that make the final cut.
"Deciding to eat-in doesn't mean you need to compromise on quality. Our luxury limited edition bento is all about enjoying food from your favourite restaurant at home," says Ishizuka Restaurant Manager Michelle Wu.
"Kaiseki is a labour intensive process," says Wu.
"We limited the box to one per day as we need up to 48 hours notice to order the freshest produce.
'It's about making a luxurious night in too," adds Wu.
"And educating diners about kaiseki as not many people know what it is. There's a lot of talk of omakase, but kaiseki is lesser known and very attentive to technique and preparation of ingredients. The chef decides what is seasonally best to fit the menu," says Wu.
Get it while it's hot
The popularity of the Melbourne bento will determine how long it stays on the take-out menu.
"As soon as you open the box and see what's inside, it transports you to a Japanese restaurant. The Japanese food is of the highest calibre and our winter menu is designed to conjure a toasty night in," says Wu.
So if the idea of pouring a green tea and bento broth over a toasted rice ball fished with snapper and seaweed is your idea of Zen night in, the bento is the ultimate comfort food you can neatly get away with eating in front of the TV if you desire.
Pick up: Ishizuka, basement level b01/139 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Availability: One per day, Wednesday to Sunday, from 3pm-7pm