When you pay $49 for something that’s worth $122 it sounds like a pretty good deal, right? That’s exactly what I thought when I saw this offer on one of those deal sites. It’s a Japanese restaurant I’ve never been to, offering a banquet for two including a glass of vino each. Bargain!
A perfect autumn day had us shlepping up to the St Margarets complex on Bourke Street, an area that was once a hospital until developers got their hands on it to transform the precinct into a residential hub featuring an array of alfresco eateries. The inside of the restaurant is nice enough but seeing it was such a beautiful day we took seat outside overlooking the central plaza watching the people parade. Inner city mums & dads sip on caffe latté’s while the offspring run around, the occasional tranny on the way home after an all-night bender and unshaven muscle boys catching reflection of themselves in windows as they strut across the pavement.
The menu at Wasabi Bistro is your run-of-the-mill Japanese variety and a few noodles pricier than say, something you’ll find in Chinatown. We are in the 2010 postcode, after all.
The banquet starts off with a very good agedashi tofu that’s garnished with dancing bonito flakes and nori strips and quick to follow is the fried gyoza. You can have your dumplings steamed if you wish but personally I like the crunch from the seared pastry. Speaking of crunch, the next course of assorted tempura certainly was audible when I took a bite. Two large juicy prawns and two discs of zucchini made for a limited assortment but it was good nonetheless.
My previous experience with beef tataki put me off for quite a while so I couldn’t help but feel a little unnerved when I saw it coming. As it was set down I felt my shoulders relax as I took in its simple beauty. The gorgeous arc of thinly-shaved beef topped with onion dressing, red onion, a bit of soy and a few sprouts was heavenly. This is the tataki I’ve missed for all these months since that frozen abomination at Galeries Victoria. Great thing for me is that I was the only person at the table that ate raw meat. All mine!
Grilled salmon roll is always a winner in my books and the one here hit the mark nicely. Undercooked strips of salmon, beautifully seared and draped over a roll of rice, tuna and cucumber, topped with golden fish roe and drops of mayo and soy. Divine. The other banquet choice for this course is a california roll.
Miso soup comes next then there’s a choice of six hot dishes to decide over. Teriyaki chicken, chilli chicken, teriyaki fish, & bbq beef plus the two that we went with. My chicken katsu plays peek-a-boo from beneath a drowning layer of sweet glaze and almost has me cringing at how much gloop was soaking into the crunchy crumbed bit of chook. Message to the chef: easy on the squeeze bottle, ya hear me? This much sauce really ought to be served in a condiment dish on the side. The chilli pork was well-received and it’s delicious flavours were compared to bulgogi. Simple, tasty and light.
Next is a choice of two desserts from vanilla icecream, green tea icecream, black sesame icecream and sweet potato soup. The green tea icecream is very nice and strong with that earthy matcha flavour but the black sesame struggled to even taste like it. Perhaps I should have gone with the sweet potato soup, something I’ve never had in a Japanese restaurant. Hot green tea is the final installment on the banquet but somehow I forgot all about it and paid up and left before it was offered. I reckon a good strong coffee was on our minds, anyway. Holt Street, here we come.