Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WAQU, Modern Japanese Dining - Crows Nest

Nothing brings a bunch of girls together faster than good food and free gifts. On this occasion, my friend was bearing gifts she had brought us from her recent trip to the US. Woohoo!! Freebies! We decided on WAQU as a girls catch up.

The restaurant is surprisingly spacious, especially considering how much their rent must be. You would expect them to cram more tables in to maximise their revenue. We decided on the 5 courses for $60 option.

Course 1:

Spicy softshell crab taco, petite wagyu sukiyaki, fish tart, potato soup with confit tomato foam

The spicy softshell crab was easily a crowd favourite. How can you ever go wrong with deep fried crustacean? The fish tart king of just tasted like a cheese potato croquet whilst the petite wagyu beef was a bit bland for my liking. My favourite would actually have to be the potato soup with confit tomato foam. A bit bowl of that in front of the tv with some crusty bread would've made me a very happy girl!

Course 2:

Sashimi salad - ocean trout yubiki, seared kingfish, grilled abalone, ruby grapefruit jelly with seasonal vegetables

From memory, one of the best parts of the dish was actually an almond cream that basically brings the whole dish together. The tangy grapefruit, the melt in your mouth fish, all covered with a velvety almond cream. Even my non-sashimi eating friends enjoyed it....kinda. They still couldn't get past the raw fish and left about half behind. Hey, more sashimi for me!

Course 3:

Tempura WAQU Style - assorted tempura of teriyaki-eel, micro fish, nori-maki sweet potato, okaki-age avocado, soy mayonnaise, three japanese salts

My friend being allergic to Miso, opted for the Tempura course, and of course, gave her thumbs up to a big plate of fried goodness.

Seafood miso soup - slow cooked sea tiger prawn and white clam, panfried scallop, yaki-onigiri in miso soup

For the rest of us who aren't allergic to Miso soup, we all chose this option. Its a cold and dark night outside, and nothing will be more comforting than a big steaming bowl of miso soup. Except that's not what came out.

A bowl is presented to us with seafood and miso that had been painted on the bowl itself. The waitress walks around with a huge kettle of dashi stock and came up to me first. Oh yeah baby, miso me up!! She tilts the kettle and "spills" a little dashi stock on my bowl and then walks away. I look up thinking she's gone back to refill the kettle, when I see her doing the same to my friend's bowl. Then it dawned on me, that's ALL the soup I was getting. We're instructed to mix the now dried and crusted miso on the bowl, with the "stock". The only problem is, we were given about 2 tablespoons of stock each. My friend had less than me and the stock didn't even cover the bottom of her bowl!

We start scraping at the dried miso to mix into the stock, except there's just not enough stock to wet the miso enough to scrape off. I get fed up with the scraping and scratching and decided to just eat what I've got, but whatever soup in my bowl is now stone cold. My OCD friend decided she needed to scrape off every last bit of miso, and basically ended up with a miso concentrate.

The soup aside, we decided to tackle the seafood. The clam and scallop is cooked to perfection. The yaki-onigiri was crunchy and toasted the way it should. Then I get to the slow cooked tiger prawn. I cut the prawn head off and do my usual thing of sucking the brains out. Except the brains were still raw. I'm almost tempted to spit my mouthful back into the bowl but force myself to swallow it. This is when I find out that whilst the tail of the prawn was cooked, the part of the prawn joining the head was still cold and raw and gave a horrible fishy smell. I wasn't the only one who found this problem as my other friends commented on the same thing. You would expect something that is slow cooked, to actually be cooked!

Course 4:

Suzuki Mulloway + Alaskan Crab - poached suzuki mulloway, sake steamed alaskan crab, yaki-tofu, crispy kombu, shungiku puree

My friend's crab dish comes out and its instant food envy. I wanted that crab and I want it now!

Slow cooked duck breast, crushed pistachio cacao nibs, age-dashi taro potato, cherry plum chutney

Having seafood for the previous 3 courses, I chose the slow cooked duck. A duck breat is slice and presented so the lovely pink flesh is showing. Whilst my friends rated the duck ok, I couldn't even slice the duck. And when I did finally manage to hack a piece from it, I couldn't chew the duck it was so tough. The first few bites my friends thought it was funny, but half way through, my jaw was tired and everything started going tasteless. You would expect that when you need to chew the one bite for 5 minutes. You can even see the sinew in the photo. I did get 1/4 of the breast which was fairly tender, but the rest was just inedible. My friends asked me to send the dish back, but I honestly couldn't be bothered waiting for them to cook me a new one, and I didn't really care at this stage either.

Course 5:

Tart tatin, fuji apple puree, cheese mousse, lemon meringue

The dessert was a simple tart tartin. It was nice, but nothing spectacular. I didn't even finish the dessert as I found the meringue so sweet.

We finished the meal off with the most amazing Japanese green tea I've ever tasted. I should've asked what type of green tea it was, but was desperate to get out of there.

All in all, I was disappointed by the meal. Whilst the first and second course was amazing, the downfalls of the third and fourth course just completely ruined the entire meal for me. I might come back when they change their menu and give them another go, but right now, I'm in no rush to go back.

308 Pacific Highway
Crows Nest
(02) 9906 7736

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sorry we had a totally different experience at Waqu.

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.