Friday, June 1, 2012

Wasai Japanese Kitchen, Adelaide (South Australia) by Big Fil

I must admit that I don’t always understand the Adelaide food scene. I know everyone’s taste differs but some places that I really like that seem to be of middling popularity only (or at least yet to be discovered). Other very popular places have left me wondering what all the fuss is about, not always because they were bad but because they struck me as kind of mediocre. Wasai Japanese Kitchen was definitely one from the latter category.

Given that Wasai is shut between Christmas and New Year, my usual times for visiting Adelaide, this place was No.1 on the list of restaurants I had to try. Consequently I was a little miffed when Hungry Pete’s failure to book a table meant that our first mission here was a failure, even if it did lead to a very good meal at Mongkok. Fortunately however with its being Adelaide we were able to make a booking the next night for what is effectively the second sitting (7.30pm).

The restaurant itself is kind of cute in a minimalist way, lots of browns, a few Japanese motifs and moderate lighting levels. There is nothing too fancy about it but it is comfortable and appropriate for a mid-level Japanese cafĂ©. My impression of the staff was that they were competent but could have done with a couple more, as when they were busy running around it was occasionally hard to catch someone’s eye.

My issue though was with the food. While it was popular with my companions, which might reflect that there just don’t seem to be a lot of mid-range Japanese restaurants in Adelaide, I was left a little non-plussed. After all, this was somewhere we had to book to get a table which isn’t usually necessary for most of the Gouger Street restaurants, and I certainly didn’t think that Wasai shone in comparison with its neighbours.

First of all, the more successful dishes of the night. I always love the visual impact of a sushi boat as it’s placed on the table. While restricted to the uncooked items only, as our companions included a pregnant Red and a mother who doesn’t like raw fish, I thought what I tried was acceptable in quality, given the very generous serve at the price, with my favourite item the light scored salmon rolls.

Of the smaller dishes my favourite was the Nasu Dengaku or fried eggplant. While I hate overly soft or soggy eggplant the texture on this was good, the eggplant tasty when eaten with the sauce.

Red and Hungry Pete also liked the soba salad very much, a chilled black wheat salad served with tomato and avocado. On the other hand I preferred the seaweed salad even if it was not quite a slippery in texture as I prefer. And the complementary endamame or soyabeans went down well. The main issue was that nothing about any of these dishes really stood out as being above what I’d expect in any randomly chosen restaurant, let alone made me go wow.

A couple of the other dishes were a little less impressive. I love agedashi tofu, with its delightful contrast between the lightly fried exterior and the soft creamy middle. Unfortunately I found our serve more than a little chewy.

Our karaage, Japanese fried chicken was a little dry and the takoyaki, fried Japanese octopus balls, were a little mushy in texture. Nothing disastrous about any of these dishes but I had expected a little better.

A nice night out with a lot of food eaten at a reasonable price, I can understand why Wasai is busy but not why it seems to be so extraordinarily popular. It’s a step up from the typical sushi bar selling cold dry plastic packed sushi and sashimi but I couldn’t see anything special about the food. To me it was competent, value for money fare rather than something for which people should be willing to line up. It wouldn’t be the first time I've misread a place based on single visit but I just couldn’t see it myself.

Food – 6.5
Ambience – 7
Service – 7
Price – 7

15 Field Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Tel (08) 8221 6606

Wasai Japanese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Its very nice post about Kitchen Adelaide .all food items are really looking nice and make feel to have it.

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