Deep fried chicken at the press of a button. Have we arrived in some kind of heaven? The beauty of the touchscreen menu at Wagaya is not just the ease of ordering (no need to flag down disinterested waitstaff) but the lightning speed at which it arrives.
Lantern by Wagaya is the newest offering by Wagaya, the touchscreen izakaya-style restaurant opposite the Entertainment Centre. Lantern by Wagaya is not the easiest place to find -- hidden on the second floor of the Sun Tower complex on George St -- but regulars of the former Greenbox Karaoke will know the drill. It sits across the road from World Square - keep an eye out for the signboard on the footpath and take the lift to level two.
Booths and lanterns
The interior has been given a fancy facelift, the elevator doors opening to a dramatic wooden archway. There's a view of the kitchen before you're led past the corridor of intergalactic neon-lit karaoke rooms and then a dedicated dining room at the back. Dark timber booths, hanging lanterns and a pebbled pathway create an oasis of calm, contrasting with the spectacle of George Street traffic below.
Tranquility depends on silence. Ours happened to be broken by the plaintive screeching known in some circles as singing. While the bar area separates the dining booths and the karaoke rooms at Mizuya, here they're located right to each other.
Karaoke always sounds better when you're the one on the microphone but listening to a stranger wailing Adele as you're trying to eat your dinner is another form of torture entirely.
Deep fried chicken karaage $7.90
Luckily the delivery of chicken karaage to our table provides momentary distraction. The plate of deep fried chicken pieces is golden in colour with a crunchy batter, but the flesh is a little dry, helped somewhat by the dab of mayonnaise in one corner (is there going to be a national shortage of Kewpie mayonnaise after last night's episode of Masterchef Australia?)
Camembert cheese fry $6.90
Suze had taken charge of ordering as soon as we sat down, tapping in fried cheese, fried salmon skin and fried chicken in rapid succession. "Is that ok?" she asked. "This is why we're friends," I replied.
The camembert cheese fry is a modest portion of four skinny wedges of cheese battered and fried, the batter light and crispy but missing the gooey interior we're after.
Salmon skin age $5.50
Deep fried salmon skin is more salmon flesh than skin, not altogether a bad idea unless the strips have been fried for so long that the pieces are more of a dry heavy crunch. We manage to partially revive these in the accompanying bowl of dipping sauce.
Rice cake gratin $7.90
Rice cake gratin is a bubbling mass of melted cheese over four balls of mochi rice cake. The mochi is ideal for glutinous rice lovers, like a rice-version of bubblegum that stretches stubbornly with each chew. A puddle of Japanese sweet curry gives this a sense of wintry comfort, hugged by lashings of cheese and dotted with cherry tomato halves.
Lightly grillled salmon sushi $9.90
And look, something that hasn't been deep fried! Four pillows of sushi rice are draped with slices of pink salmon, blowtorched to a satisfying smokiness. Drizzled with Kewpie mayonnaise and topped with spoonfuls of tobiko flying fish roe, we finish eating just as Room Number 3 determinedly starts a Bad Romance with Lady Gaga.
Suggestion? Eat here while you make use of the karaoke rooms. The singing is guaranteed to sound much better.
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Lantern by Wagaya
Level 2, Sun Tower
591 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 8828
Monday to Sunday 11.30am-2am
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6/25/2012 01:17:00 a.m.