This time of Spring means lots of weeding, mowing the lawn and planting in the garden. Today, Sunday 24 Oct, is an exceptional day after yesterday almost crappy weather of interchangeable cold and wet to a bit sunny all in one day. So when I woke up this morning about 6 am, I was very happy to see a nice clear sky, with sun about to rise over the hill behind our house. I pondered around the house with all the laundry to be done. By 8:30 am, I was out in the garden. I was out with my grass cutter to cut the overgrown grass among my flower bed that I cannot mow with the ride-on. It was a massive job. Fortunately, it was a calm day with almost no wind. Otherwise, I was doomed with itchy eyes, runny nose and sore throat. Thank god! There was none of that! My partner was busy in the garden as well. We finished what we wanted to do. My partner slumbered onto the couch. I took my shower. After my shower, I suggested that we go out in my wee MX5 for a nice lunch. I suggested we go for a drive to Geeveston.
Geeveston is located in the southern part of Tasmania. The gateway to Hartz Mountain National Park, and Tahune Airwalk. There is a Tourist Information Centre in the quaint little town, of under 1,000 population. There is the Forest and Heritage Centre where you can find history on the region, and the diversity of floral and fauna in the forest area. There is an art centre – Southern Design Centre – a living and breathing space for local artisans with their individual workspace, creating their artwork from pottery to fabric art.
It’s been a long time since we were in Geeveston. We went there today for only one reason. To eat at Masaaki’s. The first time I heard about Masaaki’s was reading my friend’s blog, The View From My Porch. I was surprised when I first read that there is a sushi place in the south! Almost unheard of and why in the earth will anyone open a sushi place in Geeveston. It is almost like someone telling me – why on earth did I open a boutique style Malaysian restaurant in Franklin a few years ago, which is two rural townships before Geeveston. Well, when I read about it last year I paid little attention and didn’t think much about the place until a few weeks ago. That was when someone in my Facebook posted some pictures on the beautifully crafted sushi and sashimi platters designed by the Chef of Masaaki’s. It got my attention immediately. You can follow Masaaki’s Facebook here.
So after a hard morning working in the garden, we decided to treat ourself at Masaaki’s. We went with little expectation and not knowing what to expect, except the pictures I have seen in Masaaki’s Facebook. My partner, of course, has less information than me, and he had not seen Masaaki’s Facebook.
It was a lovely drive with the sunroof down in my little metallic silver MX5, with the nameplate “NOODLE”! Yeap, the name plate is very catchy and occasionally I had people in the street screaming out loud to me (not always), “HEY NOODLE!!” LOL!
Masaaki’s is located at 20 Church Street, Geeveston – the only main street that runs across the local village shops. Masaaki’s is located directly across The Forest and Heritage Centre. The only problem is, if you drive too fast along Church Street at a speed of 40km/hr you will probably miss the place. You have to drive at maybe 20 km/hr and keep your eyes open for their cafe’s street sign – one of those folded road signboard. The cafe is located behind a jewellery shop. If you cannot find the shop, just drop in to any of the shop in Church Street and they can point you to the right direction. I would have missed it if not for my partner shouting to me , “There it is!” .
We parked the car in front of Masaaki’s. It has a simple frontage with a couple of metal garden round tables with 2 chairs and some potted plants. It has a rural, country outlook of someone’s backyard. If you look carefully, you will notice an article clipping of Chef Masaaki with the fame Iron Chef Japanese – Hiroyuki Sakai, when he was visiting The Huon Aquaculture Group Pty Ltd, owned by Peter and Frances Bender. It is quite impressive for a young Chef Masaaki and his partner, Lucy who have only opened the business in May 2009.
When we entered into the cafe, the Chef saw me. Looked at me. His kitchen is in the front as we opened the door. Our eyes met. I said to him that I have called earlier for a table for two. He looked at me again, and said, “hey, chef!”. I was a bit surprised and was not sure what he meant. Then he said, you are the chef. Franklin. I remember you. I looked at him still a bit puzzled. How he knew that I was a chef at one point in time. He explained that he was at my restaurant in Franklin. It was then that I remember who he was. That was 2007. Small place, Tasmania.
One Saturday night, a customer walked in about 7:30 pm and asked if she can book a table for her, her daughter and partner who are arriving from Japan. She was going to pick them up at the Hobart Airport. She wanted a table about 10 pm. That is, if the flight arrived on schedule. I was not too sure. But, she was really keen to bring her daughter and partner to my restaurant. My kitchen was normally closed at 9 pm for the last booking. But, I made an exception for her. They arrived looking quite exhausted. I reserved a private room for them. That was the first time I met Masaaki and Lucy. Her mother has been to my restaurant before. I remember Masaaki really well on that night. He was quiet. Very quiet. He spoke very little English. They were back in Tasmania visiting Lucy’s family. I still remember Lucy’s mum, Susan, telling me that she is trying to get her daughter and Masaaki to come home and maybe setup a restaurant. That was her wish. 3 years later her wish came true. Masaaki and Lucy are back home. It has been less than two years, and now Masaaki speaks quite perfect English. They are both very charming and lovely couple.
Lucy asked what we would like to have. There is no menu in this restaurant. Or, maybe we have not been shown one. But we did not mind. The various types of sushi were displayed in a cooling Bain Maree style at the front of Masaaki’s kitchen. I told Lucy to prepare us a variety of sushi, and Masaaki to make us something else. Surprise us that was what I said to him.
Our first course – a variety of Sushi with the most delicate and mild flavour wasabi paste, freshly shaved from a local Tasmanian grown wasabi root. Our favourite was the smoked salmon sushi roll. We were lucky. The smoked salmon was given to them by a local fisherman who has just smoked the salmon yesterday. Most of the produce used are sourced locally where possible, including from their own garden. Each of the sushi roll had its own style and flavour – there was the tuna, omelette (free range eggs supply locally), asparagus and others.
Masaski’s is popular with the local, mostly takeaway. There is a small dining area with a table and 2 chairs, a table with 2 small tub chairs, a rectangular table with 4 chairs and a bench with some bar stools. It is understated and informal. The dining room adjoins to the front shop – the Jewellery shop, which is owned by Lucy’s father. We felt quite at home with them. There is no formality. Very casual and friendly. A nice local rural touch of warmth and friendliness.
Our second course was a variety of tempura – broccoli florets, pumpkin slices, onion slices, scallops, prawns and mushroom slices. The tempuras were served with tempura dipping sauce with chopped spring onions and freshly grated ginger, and a very nice touch of Volcanic Salt and Green Tea Salt, which helps in digestion with the deep fried tempura. I have never tried dipping tempura in either a volcanic salt or green tea salt. So this was a great treat, and we both love it. I almost forgot to take a picture of this tempura dish. We were both listening to Masaaki explaining to us about the two types of salt. We were both so intrigue by his reasons that we picked a prawn and scallop tempura each to dip in the salt. Then I realised I have not taken a photo yet! I said “Stop!”to my partner so I can take a picture before we further damaged the artistic creation of this tempura dish.
We were almost full after the second course. But, I still have not try their Sashimi. So we went into the kitchen and had a bit of a chat with both Masaaki and Lucy. I asked them what else can we try. Unfortunately they did not have any fresh fish. So no Sashimi. But, he had something in mind.
Our third course – a trio tasting dish of glutinous rice cake in tempura dipping sauce, a chilled cucumber slices in sour plum paste and smoked salmon cubes. The trio blended harmoniously in textures and flavours, one after the other. Lucy explained to me that the glutinous rice is traditionally serve during new year. They are gluey in texture and worked well in tempura flour soaked in tempura dipping sauce. The cucumber added a nice cooling effect with the sourness of the plum paste.
Our 3 courses cost us $42. That is reasonable for a wonderful, fresh and fantastic sushi and tempura lunch. They do not have a corkage fee yet, but we gave $8 extra for taking our bottle of wine and beer. Be generous and give a reasonable tips if you are bringing your own drink.
Masaaki’s is opened from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm.
Now that the weather is getting warmer and longer, why not take a nice drive down to Geeveston and enjoy a nice lunch at Masaaki’s place. You will enjoy the best Japanese food in the southern region of Tasmania. There are plenty to see and visit while you are down south. Make it a great day.
You can check Masaaki’s Facebook on their special announcement. If you are driving there and hoping to dine in, make sure you call in advance for a table. There is limited seating. Otherwise, they can pack you a nice lunch box and there is a lovely park in Geeveston, where you can enjoy the lovely sushi in fresh, pristine air.