Wasabi is hot!
I’m the first to admit I love dining at restaurants. However, when I say “restaurants”, I’m referring to a broad spectrum…cafes, tapas bars, locals’ favourites, white-starched table cloth types and bistros. I’m not too phased about where I dine, I just want the food to be good and (hopefully) the service to be at least passable.
When it comes to dining, I’m not really drawn to fancy five-star types because, all too often, something happens, and you walk away feeling slightly cheated or disappointed.
I do love, however, food in all shapes, sizes and tastes. Recently Monty and I dined at a restaurant that exceeded all expectations.
We had heard about this restaurant some years’ ago. We have read about this restaurant. Friends have talked about this restaurant. We had tried to book this restaurant on more than one occasion, but each time we were thwarted: booked out, wrong day, closed… Finally, yes finally, last night our dining experience delivered on all levels.
The restaurant is Wasabi, next door to Ricky’s River Bar + Restaurant, at Noosa Sound on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Rule of thumb when travelling, I prefer to Google a place first to ensure that I’m not in for any shocks. I discovered the menu is limited to either Omakase or A La Carte. Omakase is Wasabi’s signature menu where you are presented with a series of plates chosen by the chef. The menu choice is either seven-course ($145 pp) or nine-course ($165 pp).
Monty was keen to try the seven courses; thankfully sanity prevailed, we chose the casual Oshinagaki offer which covered four courses ($90 pp) which was perfect.
Service was exceptional which certainly enhanced the overall dining experience taking expectations up several notches even before the first course served. We were in expert hands with the knowledgeable Tiffany explaining each dish in detail. The dishes are portioned to ensure we dined in authentic Japanese style.
For beginners, Monty ordered tantalising, icy Blush cocktails (Belvedere vodka, lychee liqueur, ruby red grapefruit sorbet and fresh lime). We also chose wine rather than sake for our four-course culinary adventure. Monty’s request for a very pleasant Mayford Shiraz 2014 was a great choice from Wasabi’s award-winning wine list.
At the start of our meal we were presented with handcrafted utensils, a small timber board covered in what looked like manta ray skin, and a generous stem of fresh Wasabi (Japanese horseradish). At $16.40 it may seem a little steep but we relished the option to leisurely grate your own fine, mushy mounds of Wasabi paste to add to your dishes as you so wish. It’s an expensive, luxury treat and one that we savoured appreciatively.
Throughout the courses, local produce and multiple flavours danced on our tongues like a Vivaldi composition transitioning through the seasons. A complementary tskukidashi amuse kick-started the tastebuds (we had fried prawn head which was crisp, crunchy, and sensationally flavoursome); the savoury part of our journey finished with onigiri, a generous triangle of toasted rice incorporating seasonal produce from Wasabi’s own Honeysuckle Hill farm. The tskukidashi was accompanied by wagyu butter sprinkled with soy sesame crumble; the taste combination was indescribable and out of this world.
Next up: Monty and I devoured Sainome (pictured below) which consisted of a selection of the best local fish prepared tartare with daikon, shishito pepper saikyo miso, ao nori senbei crackers and generously sprinkled with edamame salt. An absolute visual and taste sensation.
Monty added Kaki ($10 pp) to his four-course line-up. Kaki was a serving of two plump Moreton Bay rock oysters, still lightly attached in their shells, topped with house-made organic apple vinegar and gelee and mitsuba (Japanese parsley). He then chose Ika (picture by Monty below): bincho-tan charcoal roasted local arrowhead squid stuffed with Mooloolaba king prawn and yamaimo yam, baby heirloom cucumbers, thick shaved curls of burgundy red-fleshed ume plum, shiso and mitsuba dressing.
Yours truly settled on Nigiri Moriawase (pictured below): five oblong mounds of rice blanketed each blanketed with a different type of raw fish. The fish seemed to dissolve on your tongue; so fresh and light.
Up next was the ‘main’. Monty had the Tori (picture by Monty below): bincho-tan charcoal roasted Moya Valley chicken, nori, glazed pearl onion, kabu turnip and bubuarare. The chicken was light and almost buttery.
I had the Buta (pictured below): Rhodavale pork shoulder seasoned with gen mai cha, pickled hinona radish, crisp carrot, sesame, negi uma-dashi. Talk about swooning with happiness. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed tasting Monty’s chicken, the pork was undeniably melt-in-your-mouth perfection.
Not content to move onto sweets, Monty also ordered the optional course Mo Niku (picture by Monty below) which was beyond imagining. Mayura station 500 day grain fed rib eye cut full blood wagyu, Kin Kin bloodwood fermented honey tare, wagyu fat roast shallow, smoked daikon and almond. Oh my stars. And when the jus was gently poured over this concoction my tastebuds went beyond the stars to another universe. At $27 pp it was worth every tender mouthful.
The savoury part over, we moved onto dessert: Yukimi (strawberry, hakka, lemon myrtle and shiro-an) followed by Niki (pictured below): watermelon and shiso granita, blood plum, hozuki gooseberry, and nasturtium ice-cream). The latter was an extraordinary combination that worked exceedingly well.
If I was to score this establishment, I would give 10/10 for the food, cocktails, wine, value for money, service, and the professional, courteous staff. Ambience gets a high 8/low 9.
End note: Wasabi is a hot dining destination; it’s certainly a culinary adventure that should be on the bucket list for seekers of memorable experiences.
Address book: 07 5449 2443 / 2 Quamby Place, Noosa http://www.wasabisb.com
You can book online.
Upside: the set menu takes away the pain of trying to decide on what to have. By offering a selection of different set menus you are guaranteed an inspirational balance of flavours to tease the senses.
Downside: Honestly, if I had to make one comment: I wish they hadn’t taken the menus away from us after we had ordered. Each dish is truly a picture of beauty and a taste sensation. We listened intently to Tiffany’s narrative, but the brain didn’t fully digest it all. The menu is exactly as described on the website. Next time, I’m going to ask to hold onto the menu during the meal and use it as a reference tool. There are so many flavours to experience and digest, it’s a shame if you miss some of them.
Apologies in advance for any possible Japanese food typos. I do not profess to be a food critic, nor am I wise regarding the Japanese culinary scene. Also, apologies for the quality of my images. Taken on my iPhone, they would have been better had I used the flash but it would be soul destroying for fellow diners and puts a big dent in the overall ambience.