Sydney Dining Out: Waqu, Crows Nest

by April@MyFoodTrail on April 4, 2010

in BYO Place, Dining Out, Japanese, Sydney

WAQU
308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest NSW
(02) 9906 7736
http://www.waqu.com.au/home.html

Cuisine: Modern Japanense
BYO: Yes, $5 per person
Prices: $55 for 5 courses, $68 for 6 courses

Waqu - Outside
Outside Waqu

On the same day that we went to Ripples for lunch and Adriano Zumbo patisserie for afternoon tea, we also had a dinner booking at Waqu! Crazy I know, but we were only in Sydney for a few days and we were trying to fit in as many dining places as we could!

There is no ala carte at Waqu, the only option for dinner is the 5 course set menu for $55, or $68 for 6 courses. However, you do get to choose one of 3 entrées and one of 3 mains. I think this is a smart way for the restaurant to operate as the kitchen has a reduced number of dishes to produce and the restaurant is guaranteed at least $55 per person who walks through the door.

Hubby and I were joined by my brother Mr BT, which actually worked out really well. In the 3rd and 4th courses where we had a choice of 3 dishes, we ordered one of each and then each of us ate a third of the meal and rotated! It must have looked funny to anyone watching us – much like an eating conveyer belt!

Waqu has a seasonal menu – literally! The menu changes each season and then remains the same throughout the season. We visited in summer, but Waqu is now serving an autumn menu. As there were so many dishes, I’ll keep it brief.

The first of the five courses was plate of 4 different tastings. In one corner, there was a small shot glass of a cold potato soup, with a clear tomato jelly at the bottom. There was also a small piece of duck with orange sauce, topped with what looks like a cherry, but the menu said it was a daikon radish. Also there was a crispy soft shell crab in between two triangles of tortilla and finally a cube of an asparagus and carrot layer cake. My favourite was the soft shell crab and least favourite was the cake. It didn’t really taste of anything.

Waqu - Course 1 Amuse
Course 1 Amuse – Spicy softshell crab taco; chilled potato soup with tomato extract jelly; asparagus & carrot short cake; orange duck + dashi braised daikon radish pincho

The second course was cold soba noodles with soft eggy mousse, crab meat pieces and an interesting soy balsamic jelly. The menu said the soba noodles were green tea, but I couldn’t taste it. Mixing the eggy mousse and soy balsamic jelly through the noodles really lifted the dish.

Waqu - Course 2 Crab Cocktail, Awa Yuki style
Course 2 Summer Noodles – Crab cocktail, awa-yuki style – blue swimmer crab awa-yuki mousse on cold green tea soba noodles, soy balsamic jelly

There was a choice of 3 entrées and as mentioned above, we ordered one of each and hubby, Mr BT and I had a third each! The first choice was the beef tataki. The yellow cube in the background was very salty but helped flavour the thinly sliced seared beef.

Waqu - Course 3 Beef Tataki Carpaccio
Course 3 Entrée – Beef tataki carpaccio – lightly seared beef carpaccio, garlic macaron stick, ponzu nouve

The second entrée choice was a thin fillet of whiting, supposedly coated with miso, but it must have been very mild because I couldn’t taste it. Like the beef tataki, there was a quenelle of salty seasoning to flavour the fish. It was my first time tasting zucchini flower and I loved the crisp tempura coating.

Waqu - Course 3 Moro Miso Whiting
Course 3 Entrée – Moro miso whiting – baked sand whiting fillet with moro-miso coating, zucchini flower tempura

The third choice of entrée was a prawn, a slice of soft cuttlefish and a deep fried piece of chicken sitting on several stalks of green and white asparagus in a sweet tasting dashi broth. The green furry stuff tasted like a form of seaweed – I have never seen it before.

Waqu - Course 3 Prawn, Cuttlefish, Chicken
Course 3 Entrée – Prawn + cuttlefish + chicken – marriage of slow cooked paradise prawn, cuttlefish confit and kohmi-age chicken in dashi soup

There were also 3 choices for the main course and again we ordered one of each and shared. The first choice was tender rounds of lamb fillet served with a pepper jus. The salty sauce accompaniment (top right corner) seems to be commonplace in a lot of the dishes!

Waqu - Course 4 Lamb
Course 4 Main – Slow cooked lamb – slow cooked lamb noisette, Japanese sansho pepper jus, tapenade foam

The second choice was a piece of snapper sitting on top of chargrilled zucchini and bacon, with a baby octopus on the side. The snapper was pretty small, not bigger than the baby octopus. I don’t know if it could be classed as a main course.

Waqu - Course 4 Snapper
Course 4 Main – Snapper – pan fried snapper fillet, baby octopus, strawberry clam sake-mushi sauce, tamarind + papaya puree

The third main choice was slices of fatty pork sirloin resting on bed of various vegetables. The pork tasted more like ham than pork fillet but was tender.

Waqu - Course 4 Kurobuta Pork
Course 4 Main – Kurobuta pork – slow cooked kurobuta pork sirloin, black beans + mango dip

The fifth and final course was a dessert platter. My favourite was the delicate, but delicious earl grey and honey pannacotta slice. There was also a quenelle of green tea gelato and a red bean (azuki) flavoured cream. It was a nice, light finish to the meal.

Waqu - Course 5 Dessert
Course 5 Dessert – Earl grey tea + honey pannacotta cake, green tea gelato, azuki espuma

Overall: It was only 5 courses, but it felt like a lot more because the amuse was 4 separate morsels and we got a taste of 3 entrées and 3 mains. The number of different flavours deceives you into thinking there is a lot of food, but actually the serves are quite small. We were no means full by the end of the meal, but weren’t hungry either. The food was good and I liked that I could sample a variety of dishes. The five courses were timed well with not too long to wait between courses.

Would I return? Yes, it represents decent value at $55 for a 5 course degustation at a nice restaurant and the menu changes every 3 months with the seasons.

Over & Out, April xx

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

mademoiselle délicieuse April 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

I live so close to Waqu and yet I haven't been yet! There have been intentions but some members of our dining party are notoriously busy =p Soon, I promise, soon!

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Esz April 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Sounds like good value! I like the sound of this place 😀

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April @ My Food Trail April 6, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Being so close you should really go and check it out!

Hi Esz: It is good value for a 5 course degustation, but I think it's because they are outside the city.

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Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm

The cherry was a daikon radish? How sneaky of it.

You've spurred me into cooking dinner. I'm suddenly starving after looking at all of this (but sadly I don't have any salty sauce accompaniment in my kitchen).

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April @ My Food Trail April 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Hi Conor: You should know better than to read food blogs before dinner! 🙂 Reading food blogs always makes me hungry!

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Miss Feathers November 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

These tasting plates look amazing. It's now on my list! The meals are plated so beautifully. It's making my hungry just looking at them.

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April @ My Food Trail November 5, 2010 at 10:36 am

Hi Miss Feathers: I loved the presentation and all the different flavours! It's a good value dinner!

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bluehikaru February 10, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Sorry there, we had a totally different experience at Waqu recently, rather negative.

We thought trying a new restaurant 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 some 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 of 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.

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