Wagaya – Haymarket
Lovely Wednesday evening, right before my flight to Singapore, I’ve been invited to Wagaya along with a co-worker of mine as my +one to Wagaya for dinner. Conveniently located across the tram tracks from Market City in Haymarket, this is one of the 2 locations in Sydney, the other one is located in Newtown. Wagaya serves Japanese style tapas, that you can order via the touch screens at your table.
There are more than 50 kinds of alcoholic drinks to pick from including cocktails, sake and souchua, and there is a birthday/birthstone inspired 12 cocktail menu that you can pick from. If you are dining at Wagaya during the period 2 weeks before or after, you will be entitled to one of those cocktails corresponding to your birthstone. For the non drinkers, there’s a good list of mocktails to choose from as well, so pick one and enjoy!
For beer drinkers, rejoice! There’s Happy Hour at Wagaya: Monday – Thursday 5pm-7pm, buy 1 Kirin draft and get the 2nd one for free! $8 for 2 beers! That is a pretty awesome deal if you asked me. Was tempted to get beer as well.
In the end, we decided to start the meals with some cocktails. With that many choices, it was a tough decision. In the end: Nadeshio (pink) – A sake based cocktail with grapefruit juice and grenadine. Sweet, refreshing and tasty. The blue/green cocktail is the Wagaya Cocktail – Another sake based cocktail with lime, mint blue curacao and sprite. Stir it up properly before tasting, I can’t quite taste the mint in it, but the overall experience is good, and I will probably order it again, but as I’ve learnt, stir it up before drinking. Silly me! I should have guessed that’s what the swizzle stick is for.
My co-worker’s dish of the day: salt seasoned grilled ox-tongue. I’m a huge fan of ox tongue, and usually it is served in a much thinner cut, but I have to say, I quite enjoy this. With this thickness, I can taste how juicy the meat is and the flavours are good. I enjoy the texture of it too.
Snapper sashimi. What is a Japanese without a little bit of sashimi? Snapper is a fish with a texture quite similar to tuna, with a much lighter flavour. I have to say, the plates we have been served so far all tend to look just like their photos, which is a definate bonus. I like to make sure that we are getting what we expect to get.
I love my beef tataki, it is sliced rare beef served cold on it’s own or with sliced onions or grated radish (daikon) with dipping sauce on the side. At Wagaya, their beef tataki is served on a bed of onions, with shallots on top. You (your choice) mix the ginger and wasabi into the dipping sauce, then pick up a slice of beef with a little bit of onion wrapped in it, and dip it in the dipping sauce and take a bite! it is delicious and flavourful!
This is easily the dish of the day. Recommended by Wagaya staff, this flame seared tuna nigiri with a garlic mayo dressing sushi is delicious and the fish is seared perfectly, cooked on the top, rare in the middle and the dressing is delicious! The garlic is not overpowering, and yet you can feel the heat coming through it, which is great. The sushi rice is not over seasoned, and the overall taste is good. Thumbs up from me!
Beef sukiyaki hot pot (small). This little pot is filled with ingredients to the brim! It contains mushrooms, leeks, tofu, lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, konyaku and beef of course, in a sukiyaki soup base. If you are after hot pot, there is this as well as other options such as the salmon miso hot pot, kimchi pork hot pot and more. There are extras that you can add to this dish such as ramen or udon noodles as well as raw eggs. Unfortunately there’s no sesame sauce, that is not really an issue, as traditionally sukiyaki is served with beaten raw egg as a dipping sauce if need be. Once all the ingredients are cooked down, don’t forget to drink the soup! It is delicious.
The agadashi rice cake with tempura vegetables. I love my rice cake, I love my agadashi tofu, what could go wrong? Nothing much actually, each of the pieces were well fried, batter is nice and crunchy. I do however, wish that the sauce was served on the side instead for more access for all the vegetables. In that case, I would be wrong wouldn’t I? It would be called tempura rice cakes instead of agadashi rice cakes, silly me. I loved the texture of the mochi! It was stretchy and crunchy. Other vegetables included carrot slices, pumpkin, capsicum and mushrooms, all of which were fried well and not greasy.
Co-workers f avourite: black sesame ice cream. It looks pretty solid, but it is actually rather smooth and tasty. You are able to taste the black sesame in the ice cream, and it melts without bubbling which means that the moisture content of this ice cream is low, which means good ice cream! It is not too sweet at all either, great meal finisher.
I got myself the creme brulee with vanilla ice cream. Same goes for this ice cream, smooth, creamy not too sweet. The creme brulee is really good too! A well caramalised crunchy sugar top that cracks when you tap on it, delicious eggy custard below that, and served with a dollop of cream to bring everything together. I like the dessert I picked out, that’s for sure.
If you are having a party, there are large private rooms available as well. It looks like it is equipped with a TV and sound system, perhaps for presentations and other forms of entertainment. I had an office christmas party here once a couple of years back, and it was quite comfortable and a good amount of space. There were 12 or more of us, including our co-worker’s children.
I could find a total of 3 private dining area, but looking around the whole of Wagaya Sydney, the seating arrangement are all reasonably private, with booths for groups of various sizes. If you prefer, you can always sit at the bar facing the sushi chef, which is good for individual dining as well.
Overall experience was really good, service is extremely fast. I mean EXTREMELY fast. It was a matter of “oh look! I want this!” and tap on the screen, and the food is on the table within 5 minutes. Perhaps because I was too busy snapping one too many photos of food like I usually do, but the fast service was definitely appreciated. We were hungry after a long day at work, and was looking forward to dinner all day. The staff were all really polite and friendly, and it was great! The atmosphere was comfortable, and I can see myself returning for a casual evening or even a party in one of the private rooms.
Here’s a promotional video of the Yes Food Group who operates Wagaya, as well as their other restaurants such as Sushi Hotaru (I love the one at Kinokuniya), and Gyuzou (looking forward to trying this! Been planning a visit for awhile now).
You will be able to register at Wagaya for a free membership, where with every $1 you spend, you will receive 1 point, to which you will be able to swap for discounts or gifts. Your membership number will be your phone number to ease you of the hassle of the “just 1 more card syndrome”.
Disclaimer: Invidiaz @ aus2usa is invited to this food tasting by Wagaya as a guest and would like to thank Wagaya for this invite. Opinions are however, Invidiaz’s own.