Apologies for the lack of posts recently! Today we'll be reviewing Wayama which is a small Japanese restaurant found off Princess Highway in Sylvania. We found it while we were getting a dining coupon for MF's parents in another restaurant just a few doors down. I was interested in it because at the door there was a little intro blurb about the chef (who is Japanese) and his credentials essentially. I think there was also a part on his hobbies lol. The other reason I was interested was because they served kaiseki. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner which we have had before while we were in a ryokan in Japan.
Since it was MF's birthday, we decided to go try it out. The kaiseki is only available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and you have to book at least a day in advance. There also needs to be a minimum of two people. We originally asked MF's family to come along too but in the end it was just the two of us. Kaiseki is also seasonal so the dishes change depending on what's available. When we went, they had just changed over from the Summer to the Autumn kaiseki.
Photos were taken with my camera phone because the camera is currently away for repair *sobs*
The restaurant front has noren (Japanese curtains) in front of the door and once you go in, the wife (I'm assuming) greets you and brings you to your seat.
The restaurant itself is quite small and it seems that it's just the two of them working - the chef in the kitchen and the wife acting as waitress/hostess. I can see why they would want to limit kaiseki to weekdays because if it gets busy, it would probably be hard for the chef to prepare the dishes.
Because we reserved the kaiseki, we got fancy table placemats along with chopstick holders and two tiny origami rabbits! So cute!
Our first dish was the "Variety dishes" - boiled prawn, simmered celery, roast duck, burdock fish cake and Japanese pickles. The dish was served in a little bamboo colander which I thought was very clever. I don't think one would have much access to traditional Japanese pottery and dishes so the chef might have to just come up with something inventive which still retains it's 'Japanese'-ness.
The boiled prawn was nothing special but I enjoyed both the celery and the roast duck. The celery had lots of umami because it was probably cooked in soy sauce and mirin but still had the celery taste and crunch to it. Yum! (I do like celery though so celery haters might not enjoy this quite as much). The roast duck was cooked just right - still had a little pink in the middle and was nice and juicy with good 'duck' flavour. There were two pieces but I wouldn't have minded having more!!
The fish cake was lightly grilled and you can taste the burdock pieces when you chew. I liked it too because it wasn't too strong and wasn't too fishy.
The pickles on the other hand, were nothing special. As you can see, it's bits of cucumber inside a chikuwan (Bamboo shaped fish cake) and a slice of takuan (preserved daikon radish). I ate it just because it was there. The slice of lotus root was good though! Nice and crunchy with a sour tang. The dish was garnished with rocket (arugula) leaves which I thought was very Australian fusion. I expect it's because they can't get the Japanese equivalent (I'm guessing mizuna) which is lighter in flavour and not quite as sharp tasting. Despite the ingredients not all being authentically Japanese, the chef remains true to the Japanese cuisine ideology of using quality local produce.
Nimono - Simmered pork & lettuce with red miso sauce and bonito flakes
This looked very Chinese to us - from the serving bowl to the fact that they used lettuce and also the sauce dolloped on top which reminds me of oyster sauce. It tasted quite Chinese as well because although it's stated red miso sauce, we both thought it tasted very similar to oyster sauce. Especially if you had it undiluted in the broth. Once the sauce was mixed in with the broth, it tasted a bit like miso soup and I loved that! Drank up every drop!
Sashimi - king fish and scampi
This was amazingly delicious! The lightly seared kingfish slices and the super fresh scampi.... makes me want to eat it again just thinking about it.
The scampi had a delicately sweet flavour and it went well with the wasabi and soy sauce. There wasn't any of that almost sticky/slimy texture that you often get with prawn sashimi. Wish there were more pieces of it!! MF declared it was the best prawn-like sashimi he's ever had. Maybe it needs to be scampi to taste that good?
Salmon manju with salmon roe
It's bits of salmon sitting on top of a bed of mashed potato topped with salmon roe and tonburi. We were wondering what the black round bits (they reminded us of caviar) were so we asked the waitress and told her to just tell us the name in Japanese. She showed us the jar it came in lol. And guess what, tonburi is known as caviar of the fields! ^^v
The wasabi actually adds in a little kick which was nice. MF says that all the flavours are distinct but come well together in the dish. To me, this was the most westernised but still has distinctive Japanese parts. Very nice fusion dish.
Chicken Namban with yam chips and tartare sauce was also very good. The chicken was soaked in a sweet vinegary sauce so it was nice and soft, but not the dish's highlight. The tartare sauce was creamy but also had bits of onion? radish? something that added crunch to it. It went well with both the chicken and the chips. The yam chips were also delicious on their own. I'm not sure how it was prepared because it looked like julienned strips of yam bunched together then fried. MF thinks it's small cubes (they would have to be teensily diced if so). The leaf that came with the tartare sauce was surprisingly a celery leaf - yes I ate everything because it was that good! Just kidding, I didn't eat the onion that was in the salad with the chips :p
Hot Soba noodles with prawn tempura. To be honest, I wasn't expecting great things with this. I wasn't expecting hand made soba noodles (which are absolutely delectable!) and machine-made soba bought from a packet are nothing special. The prawn was nicely done though - not overly cooked so it still was soft, juicy and seemed quite fresh to me. I did enjoy the noodles though because I love soup noodles but this would be considered as more of a filler dish.
And finally, dessert - soft milk pudding with green tea sauce. This was delicious! The texture was somewhat like dou fu fa (tofu pudding) but softer and more wobbly. It tasted very creamy - hence the milk part I suppose. Unfortunately the green tea sauce did not do much for me. It seemed to be lost in the overall flavour of the pudding and you only get a hint of it. MF thought the green tea sauce was very nice and added something to the dessert so I guess taste buds difference? But I would eat it again.
Overall, I really enjoyed the dining experience in Wayama because the food was great, service was great (each dish was promptly taken away once we had finished and the next one served) and well, what else do you need? :p I can't wait till winter when they change their kaiseki menu again so that I can go back! The only con is that it's far from where we stay so it's a bit of a trek getting there.
Till the next meal or snack...