Date of Visit: October 28 2013
I have driven past WaQu along Pacific Highway, maybe a zillion times. I had wanted to try out the Japanese cuisine there but had never got around to checking it out until last Sunday evening. Perhaps due to stiff competitions along the numerous Japanese eateries along the strip, the establishment is currently offering a 6-course degustation meal at $58, which is $10 off – perfect to spend on a glass of wine to accompany the meal!
For the wine aficionado, an additional $45 will get you 6 different wines to match with your meal which I went for. Otherwise, a glass of 2009 Dourthe ’Terrasse de la Jalle’, a Cabernet Savignon from Medoc, France ($12) comes highly recommended by my Mom who appreciates robust red wines. I had a sip, and found the wine to be pleasant with soft tanins (e.g. not bitter and dry).
First up, was my sake – Toyo Bijin, a sake in DaiGinjo-style from Yamaguchi Perfecture, west of Japan. This style of sake is made of highly polished rice – up to 50% – and added with additional alcohol. It is a light, crisp and fruity varietal that paired well with my amuse bouche and first course to come.
Amuse Bouche for the table was sushi rice wrapped in charred zuchini and Japanese basil. The inclusion of the herbaceous Japanese basil or shiso – as it is commonly known - together with the chopped up hazelnuts gave a unique and vibrant taste that I can only describe as citrusy and nutty.
Soup of the day is chilled pumpkin soup infused in coconut milk and onion with a generous douze of lemon oil on top. A truly delectable milky sweet soup, with barely a hint of onion. Paired with the acidity of the fruity fragrant Toyo Bijin sake, the umaminess of the soup is extenuated, thus making this combo akin to an aperitif.
The sommelier, now wearing his waiter-hat, explained the cooking method of Su-Jime Salmon Sashimi which came beautifully plated in a glazed stone bowl with mango sauce, myoga salad, lightly fried wild rice, green tea salt. The raw salmon has been macerated in Japanese rice vinegar to cook and it is akin to Peruvian cerviche without the sourness. Mango sauce went well with the sashimi . The myoga salad was basically spring onions if I recall correctly.
To drink: 2008 Frogmore Creek, Cuvee Evermore from Coal River Valley, Tasmania
Scallops + Beans is a platter of 2 big juicy scallops accompanied by peas of sorts. There was a big broadbean hidden under the prociutto crisp. Light-flavoured peas puree together with peas and yoghurt mousse provided additional richness to the scallops, but I prefered the robust crunchy sweet peas instead. Not sure about the macadamia nuts dusting though as it rendered itself quite tasteless, but quite made a pretty heap.
To Drink: 2013 Brindabella Hills, Rieslings, Canberra ACT. Canberra is an emerging wine district, and this riesling is akin to the floral minerally Austrian riesling with good acidity.
Course 4 (2 choices to choose from)
My Bro had the Pan-fried Barramundi which came accompanied with grilled eggplant nibitashi (that means eggplants that have been grilled, then stewed in soy and mirin sauce), cucumber and zuchini puree.
While my Mom and I had the Pan-fried Kingfish. True to the Sommelier-waiter explanation, the skin was indeed the best part of the fish. I also enjoyed the salty bacon foam which contrasted well with the bitter watercress puree. The steamed white asparagus were lightly charred and were delectable to help cut the flavoursome taste of the fish off my palate. Not sure about the roasted soba seeds though – but interesting to see they looked like rice! 😜
To Drink: A dry-medium bodied 2012 Hamelin Bay Chardonnay from Margaret River, WA. A nose of bitter almond and sweet pineapple, it has a hint of cashew nut, clean and crisp without any butteriness.
Course 5 (3 choices to choose)
Bro chose Tajima Wagyu Sirloin Steak, this incurred a surcharge of $8. The accompaniments were celeriac puree, rocket puree, apple sauce, potato gratine, mustard seeds.
My Mom chose Roast Rack of Lamb which is accompanied by purple carrot and almond puree, mung bean sprout salad, potato confit.
I chose the Thirlmere Corn Fed Chicken Two Way. The roasted chicken breast was not as tender as I liked, but the skin was fantastically thin and perfectly crispy. I used the parsnip ginger puree as ‘lubricant’. The chicken thigh was juicier and stuffed with a roulade with cauliflower and black truffle which smelt heavenly.
To Drink: 2010 Shadowfax ‘Minnow‘, a Cinsault Mataro Carignan from Mornington, VIC which is herbaceous with a nose of lavender and rose berry.
My final wine pairing for the night was the Ume-no-yado, a plum sake from Nara Japan. This is an unfliltered sake thus the cloudy look. It has the honey plum nose as well as taste. Sweet!
Strawberry x Strawberry x Strawberry signalled the end of our meal. This is a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake… Strawberry cheese cubes, strawberry mousse, sweet macerated strawberries, sable crumbs, nougat pieces and cream sauce… I especially liked the herb-infused strawberry sorbet which is utterly refreshing, adding a summeriness to the mouthfeel – so let’s not about the unpredictable weather in Sydney now – blowing hot and cold – making me take a lot of guesswork in my ward-robing!
A swig of coffee, a moment to digest, then we are off!
Service was pretty good in general, although there was a hiccup in our reservation. I booked through Dimmi and received a couple of reminders and even a text inquiring dietary requirements, yet we arrived at the restaurant, our booking was not on the clapboard and raised a pair of well-groomed Japanese meterosexual male eyebrows. Otherwise, service was attentive whereby the waiters took great pains to explain each dish – in this instance the sommelier was the star!
This is truly an upscale modern Japanese -Australian fusion dining sans the price.
WaQu scored 84% out of 204 votes at the time of posting