Sunday, September 26, 2010

Waqu - Crows Nest


My partner chose to go to Waqu for dinner. We had been to Waqu before, before they moved up the road into a bigger and classier looking store. I remember that the old place was a bit cosier, but this new place bought along a very calm and peaceful ambiance - candlelit romantic and all.

Choice of food is limited - you either have a 6 course set menu ($60) or a 6 course set menu with extra entree ($75) so whilst they said that they are more than happy to accommodate for allergies and stuff, I highly recommend that you check out their menu before going to the restaurant (just incase!). One of three options are available for entree and for main. Other courses are pretty much set in stone.

Suprisingly, the restaurant wasn't full on a Saturday night. Our first course for the night was the japanese salt n pepper squid and chicken served with dashi mayo, and the tiger prawn escabeche on miso paint with crusted rosemary. I have to say - WOW. The salt and pepper squid and chicken was served in a shot-glass looking thing and was absolutely exquisite. Just the right amount of batter, the right amount of saltiness and pepperiness and absolutely tantilisingly tender. Eaten with a big dallop of dashi mayo - simply gorgeous! After being wowed by this skewer, the tiger prawn escabeche was a little plain - but still nice. The miso paint with crusted rosemary was delicious and crumby-like and the prawns were fresh but I'm not sure if the baby corn thingi went well with it.

Jap salt and pepper squid & chicken; tiger prawn escabeche

The soup for the night was the spring vegetable soup which features the humble pea. It was a cold soup - not too thick and not too watery. Extremely pea-flavoured, it bought along an interesting taste. However, cold soups are not for everyone.

spring vegetable soup

Included in the set menu is three kinds of sashimi. There was the trout, the tuna and... a white fish (I don't remember what it is! >.< - it wasn't king fish... I think maybe it was the sea bream). The trout was extremely good and in general, all were fresh. Delicately presented and the right thickness to it and all served with little beds of veges and seaweed.


In terms of Entrees, my partner chose the salad and crab mousse. The white sakura infused scallop and mousse was smooth but slightly thicker and denser than expected. However, it didn't have the intensity of flavour and was slightly bland. I don't think it went too well with the pink beetroot foam, but it was extremely yummy with the cauliflower puree which was very very rich and very very tasty which was hiding underneath the foam. On top of the mousse was the scallop (cooked perfectly) and the avocado which was also quite nice. Overall, I found this dish to be very delicate ... slightly too delicate and subtle. The textures were interesting... but maybe not entirely my cup of tea.

scallop and crab mousse

I opted for the roast duck and smoked oyster salad. This was three yummy clumps of thinly sliced succulent and awesomely marinated duck mixed with tiny cut cubes of japanese-tea smoked oysters, little bits of grapefruit and a "chlorophyll puree" - which I guess just means a puree made from green leafy things. It was tasty and yummy. The duck went well with the salad, which added an element of freshness. The chlorophyll paint was just for looks though - didn't add too much to the dish :)

roasted duck and smoked oyster salad

In terms of mains my partner chose the shoga Kurubuta pork loin and rib. As the pork was slow-cooked at 65 degrees celcius, the waitress kindly informed us that "it is not very hot". Interesting because from eavesdropping a little, "it is not very hot" seems to turn people off from ordering this dish. The pork itself is nice, it's tender and succulent, but unfortunately, by itself, it doesn't taste too amazing. A little bit bland even. However, taste improved dramatically when eaten with the ginger jus or apple puree (though not both together LOL). There is also a small roasted rib of pork next to it and this is the most amazing, fall off the bone experience. I only wish the proportions were switched around. The rib is very very tender and flavoursome. YUM. The prok is accompanied by little pineapple-shaped bamboo shoots, zucchini and sauteed shiitake mushrooms.

shoga kurobuta pork loin and rib

I opted for the white fish for my main. The yellowish sauce underneath was Yuzu emulsion. The fish was cooked well, though the skin was not as crispy as I would have liked it to be. The squiggle of paint was nori (seaweed) and it was SOOOO seaweedy it was kind of scary. Seaweed and fish do work well though :) I got tricked by the chamame mash potato. I was expecting a heap of mash - only to be met with tiny blobs the size of a pea. It did look kind of nice though - blobz of mash with tiny peas and home-made chips.

panfried white fish

Dessert for the night was strawberry mousse. This came with two tiny little cute macaroons, strawberry jelly circles, pink pepper puree and cheese ice-cream. I was very impressed by the mousse. Super strawberry infused and when mixed with the strawberry shortcakey biscuity crumbs, it was deliciousness!!! The macaroons were light and sweet but not overpoweringly so. And I was definately impressed by the cheese icecream. A bit dense, but intense cheese flavour. Also, because it's cheesey icecream, it wasn't one to melt easy - bringing ice cold goodness to your mouth. The thing I didn't appreciate was the pepper puree. Ugh - sooooo peppery, don't know why anyone would need it in a dessert LOL.

strawberry mousse, macaroon, pink pepper puree, strawberry jelly, cheese ice cream

Overall, Waqu's standard did not go down even after moving premises. Here, it is delightlyfully dim - good for a romantic rendezvous, the food is good (providing you eat everything on the menu), and the staff are authentically jap (or atleast some are - which is good or bad depending on if you want authenticity, or if you want understandability). Not a bad feed though :)

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7.5/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 31/40

308 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest
NSW 2065
tel: (02) 9906 7736


Maria said...

I see this place is big on food trends.. namely "the smear".. and some "sand" or "soil".. lol.

Whenever I taste a smear.. I wish it was a decent dollop.

Paul said...

Had the opportunity to eat here this evening and I can tell you that the white fish in the sashimi course was snapper.

I'm by no means a foodie, but for my first degustation experience it was quite good, the service was decent and the price wasn't too bad either.

I wouldn't mind coming back again once the next seasonal menu comes in.

Nice write-up and pictures by the way!

Bluehikaru G said...

We thought trying something new however was not impressed with their customer service overall....a dozen of us went to Waqu on a friday evening for dinner. We arrived there a little early and waited until their opening time but their big restaurant door was still locked. We waited for another 5 minutes and had to ring the restaurant to remind them to open for business for the night. Anyway We booked their private room with 6 course autumn menu and some of us also had the matching wines option.

Staff there generally did not seem having a good mood as the ones in other Japanese 'fine dinning' restaurants who always offer services with friendly and helpful attitude with a SMILE all the time. Instead they looked a bit stressed.

Degustation plates and matching wine was creative and pretty but cant really tell if it is really fused with Japanese essence. Most dishes does not have Japanese fusions to me. They tasted just all right. Not particularly memorable, just eatable.

We ended up going to another crows nest restaurant after this due to the relative compacted version of their 'fine' dishes. By the way since most of our group ordered same course dish most of the times and we realised the food portion for each plate were always uneven so does the quality of the dishes themselves. The orders were also mixed up a couple of times.

As we only had our meal in the private room, we had to judge the ambience on its private room only. Actually it is more like a section of the restaurant with gyprocks separating the dinning area into two. The private room was also next to the kitchen and bathrooms, one of the walls in between of the public and private dinning area did not have the top part enclosed! so no acoustics. It is half open, no door for the room which was disappointing. I personally think it is a mismatch with their 'fine dinning' concept as normally most high end Japanese restaurant would at least have a door.

The menu was too inflexible as its set menu and does not have a la carte options at all. Cocktail and dessert list had too few kinds to offer.

Lastly but not the least, the manager was also rather rude to us and told us off after we had a few drinks and started talking with each other with a bit raised voice and had a couple of laughs. We have a very big group and this situation was unfortunately unavoidable. In reality, Who would just eat their food and without having a few cracked jokes at the table? especially after the alcohol? The public dinning section was even noisier and we could literally hear anything out there including the noise from the kitchen. The manager kept on saying they are a 'fine dinning restaurant' not a public pub while we could not even complain how noisy their public section was!

I understand that they might be proud/snobby of their restaurant but humiliating their customers? Is this how a manager if a 'fine dinning' restaurant treat his customers?? I also saw a online review saying Waqu restaurant manager taught the good-mannered customers a lesson how to discipline their young kids and did not want them being in the restaurant. That was actually pathetic.

Just sharing our bad experience to everyone for your information. I would say this had been the weirdest restaurant we have ever been. We were all very disappointed with this restaurant and will NEVER go back again.

CydiaB said...

This place is not child friendly. We booked the restaurant and mention we're bringing a toddler. Our booking was accepted. But when we arrived, we were told child is not suitable in 'fine dining' restaurant. It was so embarrassing and wonder why the hell our booking was accepted in the first place. hated this place so much and never going back