In his short book, In Praise of Shadows, the novelist Junichiro Tanizaki writes that “It has been said of Japanese food that it is a cuisine to be looked at rather than eaten. I would go further and say that it is to be meditated upon, a kind of silent music...”.
In Miyazaki, a small, handsome room with half-a-dozen stools on Evergreen Street in Cork, Takashi Miyazaki is cooking Japanese food that summons the silent music. His cooking is beautiful to look at, and worthy of profound meditation. Above all, however, it is food to be eaten.
Take Mr Miyazaki's udon noodles with pork, one of six noodle dishes on the menu. The dish arrives on a tray, and underneath a tangle of shredded seaweed and chopped spring onions, and a little collation of pickled radish, the plump noodles and tiny pieces of thin pork nestle in amidst stir-fried vegetables. As you eat it, the dish reveals taste after taste, as if the chef has buried flavours at certain points, all the better to surprise you as you work your way through it, uncovering layer after layer.
It is, hands down, the best bowl of noodles I have ever eaten, because the dish engages and satisfies all the senses: good to look at, delicious to smell, terrific to contemplate, and I regret only that my noodle slurping technique was not up to making the satisfied slurping sound the dish deserved.
This same structure of flavours – a rainbow of tastes – is in a bowl of soup noodles with seaweed and shiitake mushrooms. The dashi broth is so clean and satisfying, yet so narcotically arranged, that the dish again hits every sense point. Japanese food has a reputation for austerity, but the richness of Mr Miyazaki's dashi stock gives his dishes an umami completeness, as if the stock has bundled all the other tastes – sour; salty; bitter; sweet – up into a tote bag and delivered them to your mouth via special delivery: Miyazaki is the DHL of Umami.
Even with a small number of seats, Miyazaki is designed primarily as a take-away. There are bento boxes, sushi rolls, onigiri rice balls, a selection of 5 rice bowls, 4 vegetarian curries and a small selection of side dishes and salads.
Cork has not seen Japanese food of this finesse since the late Kei Pilz cooked at The Shiro Japanese Dinner House, in Ahakista in West Cork, twenty years ago. Miyazaki fits beautifully into the mosaic of Cork city eating, and two further elements, apart from the cooking, deserve special mention: the interior, by Nisei Kobayashi, is gorgeous, and the geisha mural, by Neisha Azzopardi, is set to become an iconic element of Cork city.
Miyazaki Japanese Take-Away, 1A Evergren Stree, Cork 021 431 2716 facebook.com/miyazakicork