INARI Blossom In Tiger Lane

Canberra’s dining scene continues to expand and with the opening of Tiger Lane in the Canberra Centre, a few new additions on the Asian food front have popped up and INARI is 
one that is packed with some feel good Japanese flavours…..mylifestylenews writes.

Since the opening of the highly anticipated Tiger Lane dining precinct in late 2022 especially for Canberrans, the introduction of the curated collection of modern pan-Asian dining scene has lifted to a more fun and sensible vibe. INARI was amongst the pioneers that brought in one of the most desirable and somewhat graceful Japanese dining experiences to delight your palate.

The PR blurb talks about fun, frivolity and fusion and they are not far off the mark. Firstly, the restaurant takes its name sake from the Japanese God of Rice. INARI, in Japanese mythology, was a god primarily known as the protector of rice cultivation and also further prospered and is worshiped particularly by merchants and tradesmen as well as the patron deity of swordsmiths and is associated with brothels and entertainers.

Mall restaurants need as direct access to the street as possible, for the advantages of not only they’re easy to find, but also they can stay open after the stores have closed. Paying homage and inspired by 1960s retrofuturism, INARI is well situated on the bustling Bunda street level with direct entrance to Tiger Lane.

The interior is also pleasing, liminal, yet warm and dazzles you with the gigantic cylinder glassed wall fixture after you enter the restaurant. With festive shrine motif banners hung vertically in the middle of the main dining room is where the bar sits with the light structures to break up the high-ceiling dining room. The “back to the future” aesthetic edge of a time and place is an alternative and instant change of the 1960’s Japan of an optimistic innocence.

Backdropped to an experiential space, the interior design banks on this instance to create a cozy future and traditional crossover space for a nouveau dining experience. Comfort style plays an essential part here crafted in the bold aesthetic vision and customized to suit your individual taste with style surrounded by sumptuous comforts that truly make your home. A big round table surrounded by high bar stools adds to the modern minimalist chic for a fun get-together group dining experience and also serves as a communal table to let you mingle around. Private dining rooms are  available for a more intimate dining experience as well as an Omakase section for those wanting that extra special attention from the chef.

From its bright and bold interior to the menu that explores traditional Japanese dishes fused with a modern Australian flavor, centred around the elite of locally sourced seafood, Shaun Presland had set a resounding effect on the Australian Japanese dining scene for more than a decade and his menu execution for INARI is designed for sharing. The food theory here is simple and straight forward yet with some thoughtfully subtle and elegant touches on its presentation that is packed with flavours, which strikes to deliver a pleasant astonishment on their almost blemishless culinary techniques.

To kick off proceedings, we ordered a Yuzu Gimlet - orange infused gin and yuzu and Pisco Sunset - pisco, passionfruit, pineapple syrup and grenadine cocktail each and both were deliciously refreshing, fruity, with citrusy overtones. Bash, the INARI mixologist, will convince you to try something new, as he did to us and he is a wealth of information.Being Japanese inspired, sake is a must try and Bash persuaded us to try the Sake Flightwhich involved three different styles: Nara Moromi, Nigori Chiyo Shuzou - a non filtered unpasteurized dry sake made from Junmai pure rice that is cloudy with a fresh fragrant note from its fermentation and not too heavy but a light intensity; the Hyogo Usagi, Miyako Bijin Shuzou spiced sake is made with traditional yeast starter method that creates a more bold flavour with a rich deep complexity - it is more serious on the palate with a bit of a kick with intense spice and a fine acidic backbone; and the Hiroshima Mannen, Kirei Shuzou is a tropical dry sake that is more fruit driven with delicate overtones but still has some punch on the palate with a dry and refreshing finish, all served separately on a small and beautifully crafted glassware and stoneware. Should sake not be your thing, they have a succinct wine list that has some quality and well priced wines by the glass and some by the bottle that was quite well chosen especially the Lark Hill Gruner Veltliner and the Brokenwood Pinot Noir Beechworth.

<Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice> 
Tired of the French pate?! This creative dish is a great alternative, combining spicy mayo,nearly mashed Bluefin tuna tartar with a few chunks served with a side of deep fried crispy rice squares for that right yin and yang palate with the right piquancy. Absolutely delicious!

<INARI Hiramasa Kingfish Sashimi> 
Nine thinly sliced of Hiramasa Kingfish beautifully presented and placed around on a green stoneware topped with jalapeno rings and coriander on a bed of burnt mandarin yuzu and ponzu dressing. The spice level of the jalapeno was mild for us, but maybe hot for those not used to this pepper and is best to be enjoyed with every piece of the fresh sashimi and don’t be reluctant to soak up the citrus savoury sauce that is well-balanced with the entire bite. A winning dish!

<Beetroot Apple Salad> 
Savour the taste and the colour of spring. This refreshing salad mix of yellow and red beets, green apple sticks, orange, pistachio nuts, avocado and yuzu dressing offers clean tastes and ingredients that mesh together so well in texture and taste. A happy meal!

<Sushi Platter> 
The chef selection of Sushi platter is brought to the table with an assorted mix of Nigiri : cuttlefish topped with uni powder, Toro, scallop, salmon belly, kingfish belly and tuna belly. Each morsel was fresh and equally delicious and has its very own individual character that none of each disappoint. This signature platter is one of INARI's main focuses that make a mark in the art from the crafted menu.

<Popcorn Shrimp> 
A deceptive dish of crispy prawn tempura pieces with yuzu, dressed greens, creamy spicy sauce and chives. The popcorn shrimp had a very soft, but firm texture and more like a snack than a sharing plate, but the prawn texture was fresh, springy and deliciously coated with a mild yuzu sauce.

<Miso Toothfish> 
Another highlight that came to the table was this grilled miso marinated glacier 51 toothfish that is served with sweet daikon pickles and is a very attractive presentation. Well marinated and perfectly char-grilled for a smokey flavour, the fish flesh was firm from the outside and soft to break at the touch of the knife. An utterly desirable dish that must be ordered!

<Chicken Teriyaki> 
A classic pan-seared chicken supreme with lotus root Kinpira and teriyaki sauce. Despite the teriyaki sauce was overly salty and created a significant impact on its flavour, the chicken with its skin forming a light caramelized crust is still succulent and tender and the crispy Kinpira lotus root with a burst of sweet and savory flavour is a welcome palate cleansing taste after the salty sauce.

<A5 Suzuki Farms Full Blood Wagyu> 
This the king of Wagyu with a choice of dipping sauces – chimichurri, yakiniku and ponzu. The cut of meat was of a very high quality (as expected) and was packed with flavor, a silken texture that melts in your mouth. To our delight, sometimes it is best to be enjoyed on its own without any dipping sauces. Wagyu doesn’t get much better than this and this is a truly encore dish! The entire “set” order also came with a housemade silken miso soup with a more subtle flavor than some as well as the delectable Onigiri rice triangles wrapped with seaweed.

<Poached Pear with Hōjicha Ice Cream> 
This is such a great ice cream made with Hōjicha green tea over charcoal that sits on a bed of walnut crumble with the whole sake poached pear served warm. A memorable and delicious dessert.

<Spring Blossom> 
Add a little sunshine to your palate while balancing the fresh spring flavours and produce. A deliciously sweet confection that has something for everyone with three tastes of cherry blossom infused in strawberry tart, white chocolate truffle and fruits jelly. This is one for all the sweet tooth’s out there and you will quickly devour this winning concoction which is utterly satisfying.

Sicilia was our server and a well-informed one, as she knew every aspect of each dish and was able to answer all our questions with confidence. Overall we were pleasantly surprised at how elevated the menu and accompanying tastes were and this restaurant will give some other well-known establishments a run for their money and INARI should make its mark on the dining scene quite quickly. From traditional Japanese flavours to modernism finesse combining the freshest Australian produce, INARI strives enthusiastically pretty much to be all things to everyone and continue to blossom in Tiger Lane for a new dining sensation.

Tried & Tested:
Location: 5/5
Design & Decor: 4/5
Food & Beverage: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Experience: 4/5

Canberra Centra
148 Bunda Street, Canberra, 
ACT Australia
Tel: +61 0431 629 889

Reviews are based on actual day of visit and experience. mylifestylenews reserves the right of final decision in case of any disputes. All images are photographed by mylifestylenews team without any photoshop enhancement and are the property owned by mylifestylenews unless otherwise stated.

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