Kuriimu korotte $10.00
There's always something happening when you eat yakiniku. Yakiniku, or grilled meat, involves a smoking hot grill, lots of dishes arriving on your already crowded table, and a frenetic pace of food photography. Argh!
But when the food tastes this good, you want to capture each detail. We head to Wakana on the recommendation of M&L, a non-descript restaurant on a side street off Artarmon's main strip Hampden Road that is one of their local favourites.
Samon toro Not on the menu but ask
Salmon belly sashimi
Salmon toro is prized for its fattiness, succulent marbled strips of fish that come from the belly. It's not as high a grade as the toro one finds in Japan, but it's still very soft, rich and tender.
The cream croquettes are also a hit, chunky cylinders of mash potato that are both hearty and delicate with their thin crisp coating of breadcrumbs.
Boiled green soy beans with salt
Many recoil at the thought of tongue. I can still remember my Mum serving us a beef tongue still in one piece, a huge lump of muscle with tastebuds still attached. Nyutan is a different story. Sliced thinly and seared quickly on the grill, you can barely recognise it as tongue in appearance or taste, like meat but almost crunchy in texture.
Tongue slices cooking on the grill
Garlic yaki in olive oil
And for those who like their garlic, niniku is made for you. I'm flabbergasted at the sight of two-dozen peeled garlic cloves ready for roasting in olive oil. L adores garlic and proceeds to eat three-quarters of these throughout the course of dinner.
The kambi pork is delicious but it's the hotate scallop that has us rolling our eyes into the back of our head with pleasure. Fat and fragrant, these are pure succulence when seared to a melting softness.
Wagyu bifu $28
Premium karubi (marbled) wagyu beef
It's the wagyu that we're all hanging out for. We order two variations of wagyu, the premium and the special. The intricate rivulets of marbling have us gasping over them like works of art.
Special wagyu beef 200g $29
Wagyu beef on the grill
The taste? We sound like a soundtrack to a soft porn movie. It's that good.
Green vegetables with sesame sauce
Takana chuuhan $10
Fried rice with pickles
Wakana sarada $15
Wakana salad with salmon, avocado, dried tomato
and wasabi mayonnaise
Nanohana green vegetables are sweet and crunchy, the takana chuuhan an interesting Japanese take on fried rice with the vinegary crunch of pickles scattered throughout. Wakana salad is the craziest things I've laid eyes on, a salad of salmon and lettuce leaves garnished with strips of sundried tomato, cornflakes, tobiko flying fish roe and wasabi mayonnaise. Somehow it works, the cornflakes acting as some kind of delicate corn flavoured crouton.
Hayashi raisu $12
Beef stew with rice in hotpot
We conclude with hayashi raisu, the rich and hearty beef sweet curry stew. The beef--wagyu, we believe--is melt-in-the-mouth, the glossy brown sauce thick with onions, carrots and peas.
Small, low-key and excellent value for the amazing wagyu, this is popular with locals for good reason.
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Wakana Yakiniku Restaurant
2A Broughton Road, Artarmon, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9419 7499
Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-9.30pm (Friday and Saturday til late)
Closed on Mondays
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Wagyu - Plan B, Sydney
Wagyu - Kabuki Shoroku, Sydney
Yakiniku - Koh-Ya Yakiniku, Neutral Bay
Yakiniku - Nagoya Japanese BBQ, Haymarket
Yakiniku - Suminoya, Sydney
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2/17/2009 12:07:00 a.m.