It’s no secret that I love meat. A lot. And when I heard that a 400°C slab of volcanic rock was also involved? Done. So off we went to Ishiya Japanese Stonegrill Steakhouse.
When we arrived, we were feeling a little under-dressed. The low lighting and pretty decor alluded to a more romantic atmosphere. But at closer inspection the furniture were crowded together (my chair kept hitting the person behind me), the tables were covered with paper (to minimise the damage from the stone grill?) and customers were dressed very casually (trackies and all). I had made a booking for 7.30pm on a Wednesday night and the restaurant was packed, this continued on till even after we left much later on.
Inside the menu there is a daily specials list which has combination meals at very good prices. I was tossing between this and ordering my own thing. Wagyu won in the end.
We decided on a couple of entrees to share and chose ones which we deemed more “specialised”.
Tempura soft shell crab salad ($14.90): Surprisingly a refreshing dish despite the actual crab being deep fried. The tempura batter was not too overwhelming but there was not a lot of actual crab meat.
Wagyu Tataki ($18.90): I had high hopes for this one but boy was I let down. The texture was indeed soft but the meat very bland.
For the mains, we decided on a stone grill each, but we were all first timers so the waiter gave us pointers and tips on this unique style of eating. The main emphasis was on only cutting up the one small piece of meat that you are about to eat otherwise you risk over cooking everything. We also ordered some salads to go with them. Nothing too spectacular about those.
Wagyu combination stone grill ($53.90): This was glorious when it came out, very smoky and a lot more cooked than I was expected. I was a little worried because I like my wagyu almost raw. But these concerns were put aside when it was bright red and juicy when cut. I barely seared a chunk of meat on either side before devouring its deliciousness. The stone is meant to stay sufficiently hot for the entire seating but I found it cooled down to a warm temperature which started making my meat tough. These came with a variety of sauces which I barely touched. That’s a compliment to the meat in itself.
The wagyu skewers were not as enjoyable, probably due to its size. They became too overcooked for my liking, while sitting on the stone. So these ended up being passed to my friend JD who prefers her meat well done. The tofu on the side was a nice touch but I personally don’t like tofu.
Rib eye stone grill ($36.90): My friend DL decided to try a rib eye on the bone and it came as such a huge surprise when we saw a huge chunk of raw red meat. This was how we expected all of ours to look like, but nevertheless it was intimidating after seeing how “cooked” my wagyu was.
“My meat wasn’t fatty but I found there was a chewiness throughout the meat which made it extremely hard to eat. Even after trying to cook the meat to different degrees and hopefully make it more tender, nothing changed. Sadly the most exciting part of the meal were the salads and drowning the tough meat into the sauces to deceive the brain of the not-so-delicious protein that I was consuming.” – DL
It was after our mains that I understood the “casual” clothes. I did not realise it while I was eating but there was oil spitting everywhere from the grill. Especially evident when I looked at the paper table cloth that became almost transparent. Be warned, you will walk out of there with the scent of bbq stuck to your clothes.
I tend to really like Japanese style desserts so we decided on a selection to share and this was the most disappointing part of our night.
Dessert bento ($23.90): I remember discussing with the group and even the waiter how we should get a variety to try. But when it arrived there were 2 Mont Blancs (one of which was inside the Dessert Bento). This made us think that maybe we had mistakenly ordered 2 which I guess was our fault entirely. It was only afterwards that I remembered our conversation about not ordering the Dessert Tofu as it was included in the Bento with a different cake, so if we order a Mont Blanc which wasn’t in the Bento then we get to try almost everything on the menu. Confused? Basically I was annoyed that not only did they tell us that the items in the Bento were different to those listed in the menu (waffle instead of tofu, Mont Blanc instead of cake) but also that they did not point out that we had 2 Mont Blancs when they knew that we wanted to order a variety to share. As for the individual items in the actual bento, the only good item was the pear sorbet. Everything else had a weird flavour to it and even tasted a little stale.
Mont Blanc ($15): This was a huge disappointment. Where was the chestnut flavour? The layers underneath were not separated and the flavours did not compliment each other. A very odd dessert. The icing was especially not good with a powdery texture.
Warm chocolate souffle ($15): The souffle was served with chocolate sauce, dulce de leche and vanilla icecream. Finally something that came out ok. The souffle was fluffy and I will love anything that comes with a dulce de leche. It is sad that I was more excited about the bit of vanilla ice cream that it came with and ended up eating this with the caramel.
I really like the idea of the stone grill because you are able to prepare your meat to your tastes. The meat is probably not the best out there but still a decent wagyu. Dessert? The sorbets were a nice fresh finish but everything else was a huge disappointment. Despite that, I still might return just for that wagyu stone grill because afterall you can not keep delicious meat away from me.