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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wagaya, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney

Food bloggers ahoy!

Pic above just added - thank you Karen for your wide angle lens and the tripod donater (can't remember who?). We took this shot towards the end of the evening when alas, a few people had already gone home.

How many food bloggers can you fit into a 25-seater room?

We managed to squeeze in 30, a feat achieved when Chocolatesuze celebrated her birthday at Wagaya. Just when we thought we couldn't possibly squeeze in another person, the door would open and another food blogger would arrive!

Surveying the private room racked to the rafters with camera-toting food enthusiasts, it was amazing to think about how far the Sydney food blogging scene has come. It was the first time many people had met other food bloggers and the camaraderie between kindred spirits was instant, natural and inspiring.

This was my first time in the private rooms at Wagaya - we were in the largest of three available rooms which must be booked well in advance. All guests must remove their shoes before entering the room, sitting on polished wooden floors with cushions, their feet dangling in the sunken pit beneath the dining table.

A huge LCD screen in each room can be used to watch television (with teletext on) or DVDs, or you can plug in your own iPod or mp3 player and dine to your favourite songs or a personalised playlist.


The theme for tonight's party was masks, with every person instructed to bring one or risk being denied entry.

The birthday girl

Known best for its touch screen menu and rapid service, Wagaya seemed ideally suited for our large group. We had two touchscreens in our room which we immediately separated as one for food orders, the other for drinks. Each touchscreen generates separate bills, enabling us to divide the food bill equally, but have drinks tallied and paid for by individuals.

The people sitting closest to the food touchscreen were relegated with the responsibility of ordering, a simple task of scrolling through the menu and then tapping through multiple orders. There was usually only a five-minute lag between the time the order was sent through, and the door sliding open with our food.

Sushi roulette game $8.50

We started proceedings with the sushi roulette game, groups of six instructed commanded by Suze to eat the sushi and see who got the unlucky nigiri packed full of wasabi. Thankfully I had Lady Luck on my side tonight, whilst Minh beside me had watering eyes from a sinus explosion of horeseradish.

What with the constant barrage of dishes, the huge expanse of table, the cramped seating and the battle between 30-odd cameras, I didn't manage to capture every dish ordered but certainly got a fair majority of them. My favourites were the renkon lotus root chips - thin and delicate discs deep-fried to a wondeful crisp; and the scallop and garlic fried rice - that bottom layer of crusty rice is comfort food all over.

Takoyaki $4.90

Prawn tempura $8.90

Wafu pizza $7.90

Assorted tempura $13.50

Scallop and garlic fried rice $9.50

Renkon (lotus root) chips $5.50

Oroshi chicken katsu $8.50

Assorted sashimi and sushi roll (large) $38.50

Cheese fry $6.50

Takoyaki gratin $6.90

Kimuchi fried rice $8.90

The little sheep birthday cake (from 85C Cake Shop)

Chocolatesuze and the sheep are friends

It's behind you!

Chocolatesuze attacks

Gary, Matt and George from Masterchef Australia join the party

There were peals of laughter when Billy revealed what he'd been working the night before - homemade masks of the judges and the top 20 contestants from Masterchef Australia.

Kate re-enacts the moment Josh left the house

Suze wants to have Aaron's babies

Matt gets hungry

Cake pops

Sweetest gesture of the evening was from Trish who made individually tagged cake pops for everyone. The cake pops are balls of cake crumbs dipped in chocolate and decorated with hundreds and thousands, and a smartie. Suze also supplied a sugar rush for everyone with candy necklaces and ring pops for all.

Hope you had a wonderful birthday Suze, and for everyone there, it was great to see you all!

For readers, the guest list of attendees that evening is listed below - perhaps there are a few blogs new to you that might take your fancy?

Chocolatesuze: www.chocolatesuze.com
helen: grabyourfork.blogspot.com
billy: www.atablefortwo.com.au
howard and minh: www.eatshowandtell.com
sheryl: www.onebitemore.blogspot.com
richard: www.herecomesthefood.com.au
karen: www.citrusandcandy.com
simon: www.theheartoffood.blogspot.com
lorraine: www.notquitenigella.com
reem: tummyrumble.net
leona: pigged-out.com
mel: www.fooderati.blogspot.com
jen: www.jenius.com.au
belle: ooh-look.blogspot.com
jenny: www.panda-n-cakes.blogspot.com
lili: www.pikeletandpie.com
betty: betty-thehungrygirl.blogspot.com
steph: raspberricupcakes.blogspot.com
betty and richard: bettysbites.blogspot.com
ellie: almostbourdain.blogspot.com
chris and tim: blogs.thewayitcrumbles.com
trina: foragingotaku.blogspot.com
trish: sugarlace.fragiled.net
tina: foodboozeshoes.blogspot.com
pete: kitchendecanted.com
eden: nutsaboutmynuts.wordpress.com
grace: www.foodchaser.me

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Wagaya on Urbanspoon

Level 1, 78-86 Harbour Street, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 6068

Open 7 days 5pm - 2am

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Japanese -- Umaimon, Sydney

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33 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/16/2009 01:32:00 am


  • At 6/16/2009 5:50 am, Anonymous Chris said…

    Wheee awesome post!
    It was great meeting you (again, though we barely spoke last time).
    Waahh you guys had deep fried cheese?? That never made it down to our end of the table..!

  • At 6/16/2009 8:14 am, Anonymous Simon said…

    Cheesy Fry?! Bah! So missed out!

    The Aaron photo works so well! The Matt photo, not so much...

  • At 6/16/2009 8:25 am, Blogger Shanks said…

    It looks like you all had an awesome time!! I'm so bummed I couldn't make it..it'd be great to meet you all.

  • At 6/16/2009 9:13 am, Blogger shez said…

    Those masterchef photos turned out a treat! And *applause* at your diligence in taking so many photos that night. I saw the gaggle of cameras and immediately though "Ah.. I'm just gonna eat I think".

  • At 6/16/2009 9:31 am, Anonymous Howard said…

    I admire your effort with the photos, it was quite chaotic! The fried rice tasted heaps better while eating out of the bowl lol

    Was great to meet everyone!

  • At 6/16/2009 10:23 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    heh that night was epic i say! epic! thanks so much for coming and being my salad buddy- susan cheese, helen salad hah it worked out well!

  • At 6/16/2009 10:41 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Oh I never got to see the cake close up, so cute! Were those yellow horn bits mango flavoured? I think I got a bit of that :) Love the masterchef mask photos, it was lovely to meet you!

  • At 6/16/2009 11:04 am, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Great coverage of the night! It was great to meet you!

  • At 6/16/2009 11:36 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    the masterchef masks are very clever. so did you get to try everything on the menu?

  • At 6/16/2009 2:10 pm, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    Wot a bunch of rebels! I am like others, didnt take many photos of the food and soon given up. did u try those chicken soft bone cartilage? it was weird..... but Matt Preston ate it anyway, with a weird face.

  • At 6/16/2009 2:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Poor little sheep cake. I love the stunned look on its face after the cake knife has sunk in.

  • At 6/16/2009 8:50 pm, Blogger von said…

    how was the cake? i've had that cake before and while it is definitely adorable, did you find it to be just a mouthful of mediocre whipped cream and soggy sponge?

    looked like a great party though! what cool masterchef masks!

  • At 6/16/2009 8:56 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Sounds like a fun night. The sheep cake is gorgeous!

  • At 6/16/2009 9:17 pm, Blogger Bethie said…

    I am envious that you guys are such great friends and you have such awesome places to dine. Wow, great post.

  • At 6/16/2009 10:12 pm, Blogger panda said…

    a great wrap of the night! unfortunately i didn't get round to speaking to you, hopefully next time!

  • At 6/16/2009 10:14 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    That cake was 'baa-vellous'! Great photos of a great night!

  • At 6/16/2009 11:41 pm, Blogger lifeis2munch said…

    Assorted sashimi and sushi roll picture makes me drool! It looks so good!

  • At 6/17/2009 8:06 am, Anonymous Yas said…

    Hahaha looks like one big feast evening!
    and what a great cake LOL

  • At 6/17/2009 9:04 am, Anonymous Veruca Salt said…

    The sheep cake looks so cute. I need it!

    Also loving the George mask. His scrunchy face says it all.

  • At 6/17/2009 9:08 am, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Aw thanks for the cake pop plug Helen! And it was such an awesome night - too bad I wasn't able to talk to you much but I think I stood next to you when we had the "class photo" taken! I couldn't say hi because I got a bit starstrucked!!!! :D

  • At 6/17/2009 3:48 pm, Anonymous Pete said…

    I lost my cake pop!

    Sorry Trish, I just realised when I read this that I didn't eat mine and it didn't make it home with me. Very sorry I misplaced it as it was indeed a fantastically nice gesture. Apologies :(

    It was a good night though, thanks for inviting me.

  • At 6/18/2009 1:16 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Chris - What deep-fried cheese? haha... and it was an awesome night. Great food and great company!

    Hi Simon - Yeah Suze sure knows how to work a camera. Must be all that deep-fried cheese. Ha.

    Hi Shanks - Shame you couldn't make it, although I'm sure there'll be more food blogger meetups in future :)

    Hi Shez - lol. It's a compulsion. I think I may need therapy...

    Hi Howard - Ahh a happy chaos. It was quite an effort just trying to stand up so I could get my elbows out far enough to take the photo. And ha, I love eating the dregs of foodstuffs out of serving bowls. So much tastier.

    Hi chocolatesuze - Epic indeed! You sure do like your cheese, and me, I likes a bit of salad too :)

    Hi Stephcookie - We ate the horns and decided it was white chocolate but it wasn't very sweet and kinda waxy? Errr... we didn't eat it all. The Masterchef masks were genius and so good to meet you too!

    Hi Betty - Lovely to meet to you. So many new names and faces and I am hopeless at remembering either!

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - No we did multiples of about four so we didn't do the whole menu. Also hard to share a lot of dishes between 8 :)

    Hi Billy - I missed out on the chicken cartilage. Damn. I love crunchy cartilage. Did Matt stroke it too? Um, that sounds worse than I meant it to...

    and well done on the masks. They were definitely one of the highlights of the evening!

    Hi Anon - Haha the sheep cake did seem to make a funny face as Suze carved it!

    Hi Von - There was a lot of crazy whipped cream but ahhh it's so cute! The party was much fun and yes, who know Masterchef masks could be so much fun?

    Hi Arwen - I think any gathering of food bloggers is going to be much fun. The sheep cake was very cute!

    Hi Bethie - I think the beauty of food blogging is the way it brings like-minded people together. A great way to make new friends!

    Hi Panda - Yes we were sitting at diagonally opposite ends of the table! Perhaps I'll run into you again at Zumbo? lol

    Hi Belle - Oh you are baaad. And now I feel sheepish. lol.

    Hi Globe Trotting Foodie - The sashimi and sushi boat was quite a sight. We dove straight into the scallops and I ended up eating one of the orphaned raw prawns too.

    Hi Yas - Food. Friends. Cameras. How can you go wrong? The cake was good although not quite on par with, say, three pavlovas. lol!

    Hi Veruca Salt - I was wondering whether you could make one yourself although you've have to make the horns somehow?

    The masks were much fun. I think we were all quite hysterical with laughter when they first came out!

    Hi Trisha - Class photo! lol! And starstruck? Ha, we're all just in it for the love of food :)

    Thank you again for the cake pops. It was such a sweet gesture - it must've taken you ages to make them all, and so beautifully presented too.

    Hi Pete - Oh no you forgot your cake pop?

    It was a fantastic evening although you'll have to thank Suze for the invite and for organising it all. She is the food blog surfing queen methinks. And the social butterfly as well!

  • At 6/18/2009 6:25 am, Blogger mshafran said…

    Looks like a great night. I'm almost remiss that I'm in New York for 6 months, and not in Sydney. Hope I can join in on the food-blogger fun when I get back to Sydney in October.

    Michael Shafran
    Chief Epicurial Officer

  • At 6/18/2009 5:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That photo of billy... quite disturbing but can't stop looking at it 0_o

  • At 6/18/2009 11:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So out of the 30 people, which one is you Helen?OR shall that continue to be a mystery..........thos takoyaki looks nice!!


  • At 6/19/2009 1:39 am, Anonymous divemummy said…

    loved the Masterchef masks - great job Billy.

    Why am I not surprised you liked the lotus root chips? I think you've always liked it's strange texture.

  • At 6/19/2009 10:00 pm, Anonymous Anita said…

    Love the photos - especially the cake - SO CUTE!!

  • At 6/20/2009 4:30 am, Anonymous me the fioricet junkie said…

    I wish I had been a food blogger so I got to join you guys there. All that food, and such a cute cake!

  • At 6/21/2009 11:21 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi MShafran - Chief Epicurial Officer? I want some of that! lol

    Hi FFichiban - I worry about you. A lot! lol

    Hi Sydneyguyrojoe - I'm secod from left in the back row, but I don't usually wear that mask when I'm out :)

    Hi Divemummy - The lotus root chips weren't that starchy actually. They were quite crisp. I love the little holes in it and they have such a delicate texture to them.

    Hi Anita - It's gorgeous isn't it? Kinda like a kids cake for adults :)

    Hi fioricet junkie - Always good to have more food bloggers on board, so join the train!

  • At 7/09/2009 10:56 pm, Anonymous Dazy said…

    We don't go dine-in there regularly since it is not close to our place. I make it a point to come every time I'm in the neighborhood. We get filled up and usually have leftovers to take home.

  • At 7/23/2009 6:46 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Dazy - Oh takeaway is always a highlight the next day, but somehow I always find room to eat everyone's leftovers :)

  • At 11/21/2009 3:18 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey...does it cost money to book the rooms? Also approx how much does it cost pp?

  • At 11/22/2009 6:13 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Anon - There is a room hire for the rooms, depending on the size. For up-to-date pricing, best to ring Wagaya directly to check :)


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