Last week I visited my very favourite Japanese restaurant outside of Japan. I felt the need to write about it here, so those of you living close by, or visiting, can go give it a try. Also, I just wanted to share the photos of the food. It is truly stunning, and always elicits a shiver of anticipation and an instant burst of mouth watering upon sight. それはとてもおいしかったですよ、ありがとうございます (That was very delicious, thanks very much) doesn’t even begin to cut it.
Firstly, the restaurant is quite small and a little rustic looking, hence the name. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic, the beauty of imperfection, incompleteness and impermanence. There is a lot of wood, and the setting makes me feel like I could be sitting in a restaurant on the Kamo River in Kyoto. It is my Japan fix in Melbourne. The art hanging on the walls is also worth mentioning. It is an eclectic mix of very cool pieces, drawings of tattoos, great waves with surfers, intricate line drawings, they are varied and interesting.
I feel quite nervous writing about the food. I am a very ex-chef, cooking teacher and passionate foodie, and feel my words will never be able to convey the amazing experience that takes place in my mouth when I eat here. My daughter says the miso soup is one of her favourite things on the planet, and after eating the tempura sato-imo and renkon, I have now added this dish (with a lovely sriracha mayo and sesame seeds) to our at home repertoire.
Last week’s visit I was unable to go past the gozen (bento). I had the seafood and my friend, who is a vegetarian, had the vegan version. Wow. Wow. Wow. At the risk of sounding gushy….. my food was amazing (as always). I think somehow I forget how good it is between visits. My plate had fried salmon with a curry mayo, delicious black rice, tofu with yuzu and green chilli (I think), broccoli with sesame, several types of pickle, scrambled tofu, sato-imo (taro) and incredible potatoes. Every element was outstanding. And all the flavours so balanced and complimentary.
My friend, Simone, had something very similar, only her main dish was eggplant curry. She was also in heaven…. Not only is the food exquisitely delicious, it is very reasonably priced and healthy, as well.
Our dessert was, in a word, sublime. Simone had a yuzu frozen pudding with macha ice-cream and I had a macha creme brulee with black sesame ice-cream. The brulee was in a very shallow bowl, allowing for a large area of crispy caramel. The sweetness of the caramel, contrasted with the macha was so yummy.
The other thing I really love about Wabi Sabi Salon is their bathroom. The walls are covered with retro Japanese advertisements, from many different periods of history. Firstly, I like the challenge of trying to read them, and secondly, they are really beautiful. The colours and the styling…. awesome.
Wabi Sabi Salon is located at 94 Smith Street, Collingwood, in Melbourne. The website is www.wabisabisalon.com.au and the phone number is 03 9417 6119
I can’t recommend eating here highly enough, and writing this has made me so hungry for more, I have booked a table for tomorrow night, hahaha….