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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wakana Yakiniku Restaurant, Artarmon

Kuriimu korotte $10.00
Cream croquette

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.

Complimentary salad

Edamame $4
Boiled green soy beans with salt

Nyutan $11
Beef tongue

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

Niniku $3
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.

Hotate $12
Fresh scallop

Tontoro $20
Kambi pork

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.

Nanohana $5
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.

View Larger Map
Wakana on Urbanspoon

Wakana Yakiniku Restaurant
2A Broughton Road, Artarmon, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9419 7499

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday 12pm-3pm and 6pm-9.30pm (Friday and Saturday til late)
Sunday 6pm-9.30pm
Closed on Mondays

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Wagyu - Plan B, Sydney
Wagyu - Kabuki Shoroku, Sydney

Yakiniku - Koh-Ya Yakiniku, Neutral Bay
Yakiniku - Nagoya Japanese BBQ, Haymarket
Yakiniku - Suminoya, Sydney
17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/17/2009 12:07:00 am


  • At 2/17/2009 6:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's so close to the train station. I wish I'd known about this when I worked in Artarmon and was always starving when I finished.

    Also, I've recently gotten over my aversion to tongue. It's delicious!

  • At 2/17/2009 7:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The food looks good :)

    When you go to a yakiniku/korean BBQ place, does the group tend to fend for themselves or is there one poor soul that ends up being the designated cook?

  • At 2/17/2009 8:58 am, Blogger shez said…

    i love eating here (and the chef/owner is fantastic at remembering regulars). my friend mark calls it the "sexy steak place". no questions why! :)

  • At 2/17/2009 10:50 am, Blogger Pete said…

    I'll most certainly be trying this place. It's close and anywhere that gives you an entire bulb of garlic to roast and scoff at your leisure is a winner :D .

    I'm sitting here dreaming of wrapping an oozing clove of roasted garlic in a barely seared slice of wagyu......but I've already had breakfast, heh heh.

  • At 2/17/2009 11:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like tongue too-mainly as it doesn't look too much like a tongue. Right now, I'm craving that bowl of Hayashi Rice though...

  • At 2/17/2009 1:05 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmmm, roasted garlic is so beautiful!

  • At 2/17/2009 1:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love, love, love yakiniku.

    Your grill looks very clean. Not a tongue fan but Wagyu looks very succulent

  • At 2/17/2009 3:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I tried it I thought it was pretty average but woowww your photos make them look sooo much better haha!

    I thought the premium wagyu was good but for other meats I would prefer other yakiniki places.

    Go the crazy cornflake salad! 0.o must go back to try it!

  • At 2/17/2009 8:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "We sound like a soundtrack to a soft porn movie."

    Quote of the year!!!

    I love this blog.Thankyou.

  • At 2/17/2009 8:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow wow.. looks yuuuuuummy hehe.. that wagyu beef looks delish! haha.. and fatty.. hehe

  • At 2/17/2009 9:01 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Looks great! I frikkin LOVE gyuutan! Gyuutan shioyaki (saltgrilled) is my favourite, but just plain yaki is good too.

    *mm drooooool*

    I agree though - best in tiny slivers and not in a big scary slab. :)

    xox Sarah

  • At 2/18/2009 12:02 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Brittany - It's very close to the station; such a shame you didn't know about this restaurant! And I had tonguewurst on my sandwich today - it was yum!

    Hi Simon - We had two designated cooks and I was one of them! Admittedly L did most of the work and a great job he did too. Often it's the two people closest to the grill who get stuck with cooking duties!

    Hi Shez - I did notice the chef/owner conversing with many of the regulars, always a great thing to see and experience. And lol @ "sexy steak place". Totally see how that name came about!

    Hi Pete - I did have a couple of garlic cloves and yes, they were rather nice when accompanying the beef. I stopped at about four though, and there were definitely no vampires attacking me that evening!

    Hi Lorraine - I've always found Japanese curries eerily sweet but on a cold night, this hearty, dark and rich stew definitely hits the spot! It's so fragrant and the beef is amazingly tender.

    Hi Arwen - I do love roasted garlic. It was a little hard to caramelise in the little foil cup - straight from the oven is my favourite method!

    Hi Veruca Salt - The meats were all free from sauces (we had individual trays of dipping sauces) but yes, L did an excellent job on the grill.

    Hi FFichiban - I was really impressed with the wagyu here, the Special Wagyu in particular. The cornflake was so bizarre but to my amazement, it actually worked.

    Hi mello d - I love readers who laugh at my jokes. lol! Thanks for reading - and even better, commenting!

    Hi Kay - The wagyu was fantastic. Fatty often equals delicious in my books :)

    Hi Sarah - You really like your gyuutan :) The thin slivers do make it more delicate. I wonder if tongue will ever take off like lamb shanks have!

  • At 2/18/2009 2:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your pictures are gorgeous! This place is going to the top of my list of places to try. It will be a hike to get there from Bondi Junction, but it looks like it will be worth it!

  • At 2/18/2009 10:14 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi SarahKate - Thank you. Good food is one of the few things I will trek for far :) Hope you enjoy your meal!

  • At 9/05/2009 10:56 am, Anonymous charisma said…

    I really enjoy the wakana salad the corn flakes add a nice crunch, just wondering where would say have you had the best wagyu beef my sister and I want to take our dad for father day.

  • At 9/05/2009 11:32 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi charisma - I actually think the best wagyu I've had was here :) Otherwise the wagyu at Kabuki Shoroku was pretty good too.

  • At 9/07/2011 11:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello, Ive been here A LOT of times, I LOVE IT! But i always wanted to know whether we could ask for more complimentary salad. I know in korean restaurants, we could get more (refill) side dishes free of charge.



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