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Monday, June 25, 2012

Lantern by Wagaya, Sydney

Touchscreen menu at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney

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 lantern decor inside Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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.

Fried chicken karaage at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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?)

Deep fried camembert cheese at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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.

Deep fried salmon skin at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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.

Mochi rice cake gratin at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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.

Aburi salmon sushi at Lantern by Wagaya Sydney
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 on Urbanspoon

Lantern by Wagaya
Level 2, Sun Tower
591 George Street, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9283 8828

Opening hours:

Monday to Sunday 11.30am-2am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Mizuya, Sydney
Wagaya, Sydney
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/25/2012 01:17:00 am


  • At 6/25/2012 8:33 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    You can have the karaoke, just give me the rice cake gratin. Yeah baby!

  • At 6/25/2012 8:43 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I didn't realise Wagaya revamped and added karaoke rooms! It is a trend I must say - eat while you sing. My favourite dish at Wagaya has to be their spider rolls with the crispy lotus chips! Those touch screen menus are dangerous.. I just keep... touching..

  • At 6/25/2012 8:47 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    ahahaha eat ALL the deep fried foods!

  • At 6/25/2012 9:13 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Mmmmm, tasty choices! Might just eat here and skip the karaoke ;)

  • At 6/25/2012 11:13 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Fried food FTW!! Me loves the fried cheese there mmmmmm I reckon they should do fried sushi too lol The karaoke rooms has a massive songs selection and I heart it!

  • At 6/25/2012 11:40 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    I definitely recommend eating during karaoke; it makes the keening much more listenable.

  • At 6/25/2012 12:12 pm, Anonymous Sushigirl said…

    Deep fried cheese! Someone should make sushi rolls with deep fried cheese one day. I love the booths and the lanterns. So pretty!

  • At 6/25/2012 12:49 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    yum! deep fried food ftw! i should adopt your weekly fried chicken practice!

  • At 6/26/2012 10:07 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Is there a dessert section? I'd be pressing those buttons with superhero speed.

  • At 6/26/2012 1:32 pm, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    "Another form of torture entirely..." Well written, Helen! Love the sound of this food, but not the sound of that music!

  • At 6/26/2012 3:29 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    With so many fried dishes I thought for a moment you were reviewing The Abercrombie :)

  • At 6/26/2012 6:19 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    hehe I guess I didn't suffer so much when I went with my friends as they all have amazing voices.. though they had to suffer through my singing ^^" ooh I need to go out with you & Suze more often! I really want to get deep fried cheese and salmon skin but no one else was keen -.-

  • At 6/26/2012 6:36 pm, Anonymous Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Wagaya trumps Mizuya by far with their food but it was never opened in the day! Thank goodness for Lantern and with added karaoke rooms! I can foresee many tragic date nights with Shaun here :D

  • At 6/27/2012 9:45 am, Anonymous Gareth said…

    Fun idea for ordering, not sure how I feel about this in a restaurant though. Most of the time I like the waiter/waitress interaction but agree you do get a the odd rude one that dampens the experience.
    The photos are so bright, the chicken karaage and salmon sushi look taste bud tantalizingly good.

  • At 6/27/2012 2:31 pm, Anonymous Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    Oooh I love a good fry up though I agree I could do without the singing! I didn't see that Masterchef ep but I will just die if my supermarket runs low on Kewpie...

  • At 6/27/2012 2:37 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    how come i didnt see the rice cake gratin when i visited? *sad face* it looks so good!

  • At 6/27/2012 11:32 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i love the fried chicken and the crispy salmon skin! will have to try the other dishes and a bit of karaoke also!

  • At 6/30/2012 7:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow the seared salmon looks great! Is the menu for Lantern exactly the same as Wagaya?

  • At 7/02/2012 10:19 am, Anonymous Ardi Pradana said…

    I love going to Mizuya for Karaoke + Japanese fun! I can't wait to try Wagaya's!!!

  • At 7/24/2012 11:40 am, Anonymous Lucas @ CoverVersions.tv said…

    Chocolatesuze stole my comment.

    I want to see this computerized menu applied to dumpling places like Din Tai Fung!


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