We find ourselves gathered at Wagaya for a combined birthday for Ms Selective and Mr Awesome. We have had group gatherings here previously, sometimes with so many of us that it warrants one of the private rooms with its own TV. We’ve even discussed in the past whether it’s possible to cart in our own gaming console and hook it up to said TV.
But this evening we are only a group of six and Ms Selective manages to procure one of Wagaya’s free birthday mocktails even though it’s not the exact date of her birthday. The mocktail is simply known as ‘December’, doesn’t come with a menu description and is a deep shade of emerald green. She takes a sip and declares it’s not very nice before the rest of the girls do the taste test to decide for ourselves. I claim that it tastes a bit like toothpaste or mouthwash, before Ms Sourdough hits the nail on the head by announcing the flavour resembles that of Listerine strips. Before long, we decide to order various fruit-flavoured chuhai instead to combat our minty freshness.
And then the barrage of food begins! We start with a dish of shark fin and jelly fish with its sesame oil fragrance and flecks of occasional chilli sitting on a bed of wilted but still crunchy mung bean sprouts. There’s agedashi soft-shell crab featuring a beautiful marriage of tofu in the thinnest of stretchy batters and a crunchy whole soft-shell crab perched atop.
Weirdo’s favourite renkon chips arrive well drained and evenly seasoned. Then there’s Mr Awesome’s tako-wasa which has chopped baby octopus pieces in a wasabi dressing. This is soon followed by the assorted tempura which are coated in a light batter, although it’s not the fluffiest I’ve seen.
The grilled ox tongue skewers are charred, shiny and meaty with only a couple of chewier pieces to give us a jaw workout. The salmon skewers are coated in a teriyaki-type sauce and given a smattering of sesame seeds before they make their entrance.
The grilled scampi are actually sweeter than I expect and easy to peel. The sea urchin chawanmushi provides uni for my sea urchin-loving husband whilst leaving some silken steamed egg innards for the rest of us.
The housemade gyoza have thin skins, juicy fillings and are pan-fried to crisp-bottomed goldenness. The squid mentai pizza has a thin but slightly soggy base which is wanting to stick to the pan, and is topped with almost fluorescent pink mentai.
The Wagyu steak comes chopped in small pieces and taste of being tossed in butter. The deep-fried salmon skin is a little disappointing for me because they haven’t been seasoned. They are suitably crunchy but not oily though, and are served with a bowl of dipping sauce alongside. However what I would really prefer is a selection of salts like at Azuma Kushiyaki.
And then, because it is a double birthday we have brought along cake – a green tea gâteau from Breadtop with two layers of green tea sponge and green tea cream sandwiched in between and spread over the top and sides. Splodges of azuki bean purée are hidden amongst the layer of green tea cream and the whole lot is given a generous coverage of matcha powder over the top.
Hooray for friends, great food, birthdays and cake!
78 Harbour St, Haymarket NSW
Tel: (02) 9212 6068
Opening Hours: 7 days 5pm til late