Level 1, TCB Centre
315 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley QLD 4006
+61 7 3252 8888
Disclaimer: Wagaya gave Greg and me $70 to spend on food, the remainder of the bill was paid by myself.
These days, I’m not big on loitering around Fortitude Valley’s Brunswick Street with all the riff-raff (what am I, old?). A Saturday night in Queensland for me involves going to a mate’s house to chill on the couch, having a few beers by the beach or staying in with SBS on Demand and a glass or two (or five) of wine. As luck would have had it though, I needed to be in Brisbane several weekends ago and so I decided to kill two birds with one stone by doing a catch-up with my Brisbane friend, Greg.
Now, I was originally invited to have dinner at Wagaya down in Melbourne a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend – luckily for me, there happens to be a Wagaya in Brisbane so I timed my errands with a dinner booking there for two on a Saturday evening.
The place was a pain the arse to get to: Google told us that it was located on the first floor of the TCB Centre on Brunswick Street. I entered the centre via Brunswick Street, got on the lift, pressed the button to go to level 1 – and ended up in some random dodgy alley full of stinky bins. It turns out the restaurant’s entrance was on Duncan Street. Yeah okay, made sense.
Things were smooth sailing once we were in, though. We were lead through the modern timber-lined dining room, filled with private dining booths.
Each booth had a touchscreen menu where we could make our selections throughout the course of the meal as well as signal for service. The aim of dining at Wagaya is to try as many different dishes as you possibly can. There are plenty of dishes to chose from – udon, sushi, sashimi, skewers and so on – and there is not one dish that Wagaya specialises in, at least none that I can see.
We ordered a shitload of stuff.
First up, the delicate warm savoury egg custard. I was expecting the custard to reveal perhaps one or two pieces of artificial crabstick, however I was surprised to find that it had REAL crab in it. Drizzled with dashi broth, the chawanmushi was delicious and a perfect starter.
The assorted sashimi platter didn’t just have your standard tuna, salmon and kingfish slices (though they were there). Rather, they introduced a mix of things you wouldn’t expect to find on a sashimi platter at a casual restaurant – we’re talking fresh Pacific oysters, tender octopus bits, oily mackerel, prawns and even uni (sea urchin). All of it was ridiculously fresh and delicious.
While I can’t really give mad props for the tempura (the battered bits of prawn and vegetables were too oily and they weren’t crispy enough), we both loved the udon soup – the broth was delicate yet full of umami goodness and the slippery noodles were delightfully chewy.
The assorted skewer plate was a great way to suss out how well these guys can do a kushikatsu (grilled meat skewer). We got a king prawn, salmon, chicken and beef skewer. Drizzled with a teeny bit of teriyaki sauce, they were all nice enough but lacked the lovely smokiness I’ve since been used to after eating quite a few of these in Japan.
We probably could have stopped there but we were greedy and wanted to try some octopus balls so we selected that as our final order. I was impressed by the size of the balls (lol) and how generous they were when it came to creaming them (double lol) with lots of octopus bits. Thus, it was a shame that they erred on the soggy side. Bummer.
We loved the variety of food on offer at Wagaya and the service was fantastic (friendly and quick – we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to arrive), but we thought the food was a bit of a hit and miss. The good stuff was done really well while the not-so-good stuff were meh but by no means terrible. Wagaya is a great place if you want to go somewhere fun with your mates and if you want to introduce some noobs to an array of Japanese food – but not if you want to go somewhere with more substance.