Monday, August 4, 2008

Wagaya - Haymarket, Sydney.

One of the things with Sydney dining, especially in the City (arguably bounded by as far as The Rocks to the edge of Chinatown), is that once a new place opens; there is a contagious urge to try it. You can expect to wait for an hour if you're lucky to be fortunate to get a table at these places if you arrive without a booking - thus , it is common sense to arrange a reservation beforehand.

It's my brother's birthday and I've shamefully plugged, self-nominated and booked (without his consent); Wagaya as a restaurant for a venue for celebrating it. Only a week before I 'd already eaten at this place.Located just opposite of the Entertainment Centre, it's a nice location in terms of parking as Market City is just a few minutes walk (offering a $9 flat rate for entry after 5pm).

It's a modern, if not a good example of what we should expect restaurants to soon become in the near future: clean and carefully placed interior seating with cut-out wooden walls between each table to ensure privacy (but not too much enclosure), an open-kitchen where sushi is prepared and skewers are grilled, a VIP function room which has features such as a karaoke system and traditional japanese-sitting (tatami mats) and also, possibly the first in Sydney if I'm not mistaken, a touch screen ordering system.

Enough description, here comes the food.

Sushi Roulette: 6 generous pieces of Salmon sushi - 5 of them 'normal'; 1 of them filled insanely with enough wasabi to make a grown man shed a tear. It's become almost an obsession to order this dish, I remember on my last visit I ordered at least three of these due to this risk of getting the 'doom' sushi. Simply said, I've been sold on and every time I go to Wagaya, this dish will be a must. For those who wish to read a 'trick' on how to get away without getting the 'doomed' sushi read on; otherwise scroll down to the next picture to move on.......basically from the observations of a few people, the piece to avoid is one whose rice-base appears to be completely white and wasabi free on the outside. Also, you can play certain 'mind-games' (which I was unfortunately the victim of!) at your own risk: be the first person to take the plunge and opt to choose the first sushi, pretend you've got the 'doomed' piece (which hopefully you don't have) and writhe in agony for a few moments before composing yourself. Afterwards, the group which you're with will feel safe about eating the rest of the pieces and may even opt to add further wasabi to their personal preferences. Sit back...and watch in eager anticipation as one of your group members suffers to their own disbelief and dismay.

Salmon 'Toro' Sushi. To be honest, there was nothing special about this dish. The 'toro' was far from what you'd expect, even compared to sushi joints such as Makoto. Despite calculating this dish to be under a $1 cheaper than the sushi roulette, in my opinion, it's better to opt for the latter for quantity and the additional priceless entertainment you get.

'Wafu'-style pizza: cheesy, hot and just the right size for a nibble in-between your larger dishes. It's a bit overpowering if you're not a cheese fan and more than one slice per person would be over-filling.

As a self-confessed fan of scampi, I had to order this dish as soon as I found it on the menu. Despite being on the pricer side ($6.90), the fascination on whether it 'delivered' trumped the price - and it was worth it. The scampi was fresh, sweet and soft - what you should expect.

Eggs. Not always to my liking, but this dish was prepared reasonably well. Layered, fluffy and with a soft texture - it's a dish to order and shared around.

Sukiyaki - a necessity in winter. The stock is sweet and full of soy-flavouring. The ingredients are abundant - beef slices, mushroom, bean sprouts, veggies and carrots. Take note, that they offer a large and small size. From my previous experience, the small size gives just as much ingredients as the large proportion.

Ramen. At a cheap cost of $3 - Why not? The ramen reminds of that of the quality that you get from Ryo's and Menya. And at the cheaper price compared to these two places, I had to get it.

Strawberries and Cream from Breadtop.

One of the things which really impressed me about Wagaya was that they are so easy and willing to accommodate the needs of the customer. If it's your birthday and you can prove it, Wagaya will give you a free non-alcoholic drink (sadly, my brother forgot to bring his ID). However, when we produced a cake at the end of the meal, the staff to our surprise, took it to the kitchen and soon reproduced it with their own candles, plates, a cutting knife and forks - talk about service!

Overall, Wagaya is on-par with places such as Musashi, Makoto and similar restaurants that you would associate to these. I would recommend it to larger groups due to the large selection of dishes that they offer.

Level 1, 78-86 Harbour Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
Ph for bookings: 9212 6068 (call after 5pm as no one answers before this time)


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