I was recently contacted by a global marketing agency, aiming to promote Japanese restaurants and culture. After working on the Sydney scene, they’d moved on to Melbourne and I was kindly invited to try Wagaya in Melbourne.
Hidden in Mid City Arcade, this restaurant relies on marketing and word of mouth to reach its audience. A level above Sushi Hotaru, you can only reach the restaurant via elevator.
What greets you is quite a surprise – two levels of sophisticated seating (300 seats) and a balcony too. They have an iPad ordering system and said they can even bring iPads out to those in the outdoor seating area.
The restaurant was full of cherry blossoms to make sure you definitely feel like you’re in a Japanese restaurant. The majority of seating is in booths and dimly lit.
They have four private rooms, which also offer karaoke. The largest can hold up to 30 guests. Otherwise you can still book for large groups for just dinner and they might put you in a space like the area below.
As we browsed through the iPad, we were overwhelmed by the choices ranging from sushi to hotpot, fried dishes and pages of drinks.
For drinks we went with a lychee Calpis, a popular uncarbonated Japanese soft drink, and an iced green tea latte.
We went for a bit of everything, from sushi rolls to a la carte dishes. This included soft shell crab and seared salmon/cream cheese rolls. You could get them in serves of three or six, which is handy for when you want to try a variety of things.
I did find the pieces a bit small but the size could also be good for the same reason above.
We also tried the agedashi tofu, which came out nice and hot, but was a little plain compared to other places. A winner dish was the deep-fried unagi (eel, top middle dish in the below picture).
With its lightly fried exterior and a healthy amount of salad, we didn’t feel too guilty indulging in this dish.
Perhaps the most strange dish was the Japanese style chicken pizza. I’m not sure if this is a Wagaya creation or a craze in Japan but it didn’t truly win us.
Although I love cheesy things, the cheese they used was a bit heavy, so hard to eat a lot of it.
But overall we really enjoyed our meal and it was a great variety at reasonable prices. I like how hidden the place is, a spacious and sleek venue as your reward when you find it.
Don’t forget if you want to try karaoke, that they have rooms available with Korean, Japanese, Chinese and English songs. The rooms have simple but classy designs and are ideal for a quality karaoke night accompanied by good food.
Even better, if you have a birthday dinner here, you get a free birthday cocktail within two weeks of your birthday! There is a bit of a language barrier with some staff but I guess that is what the iPads are for, and isn’t technology what it’s all about these days?
Mon’s Adventures was invited as a guest of SD Marketing Global and Wagaya.