It seems that on my crusade for all things opulent, shimmering and luxurious, I meet a lot of strangers that are body beautiful but leave lots to be desired in soul. And just like how we meet strangers in strange places, some places are brought to life by by their restaraunts. Especially late at night in London.
Fellow luxe foodista Juliikg aptly whisked me away from London’s gaudy markets and double-decker bus shadows and cobblestone streets and wet rain into Wabi, a Japanese restaurant on the lines of Nobu. Exhausted from a day of Londoneering around, we melted into the couchy seats in a long, glasslike, single corridored empty restaurant. Which thankfully filled up with interesting gentry over time.
Starting with much needed punchy beverages, our green apple martinis arrived with leafy garnishes made of Granny’s most sour green apples, and were a refreshing kick to the fatigue of the long, episodic day.
The plethora of entrees we ordered commenced their arrival shortly thereafter. The Soba pancakes were my favorite, an orchestra of flavors in my mouth due to the juxtaposition of ingredients. Visually, the pancakes were shaped like an upside down tent, propped up by toothy sticks, and spilling with creamy avocado, sour yuzu mayo and crunchy puffed soba.
The wood fired mushroom was disguised into tree trunk like pillars, atop and laced with greens that made it look like a hometown for a nymph. The Yuzu-Truffle-Miso dressing elevated the bitter taste with sweet and sour notes, but even the sesame crunch could not outweigh the squishy texture of mushroom! The dish begged for a tuile as a textural contrast.
Which brought us to the Shojin vegetable tempuras with crunchy corn. Perfectly fried without being oily, and with the secret textural insertion of the corn, made these a fun in-between nibble. The dipping sauces included a classic twist on soy, and a creamy mentaiko dip that was sweet and zesty to balance the fibrous vegetables. A second vegetable tempura dish was atop greens and scantily dressed thin rice noodles. It was relatively light and quite fresh, making for a textural feast albeit sans salt or a lack of lemony dressing.
The plethora of entrees took us so long to consume, courtesy of photography and instagram addicition, that even the hospitable staff came by twice to offer reheating the food and taking our pictures, offers we graciously declined. They recommended two luscious sounding desserts, which arrived shortly thereafter.
The Chestnut Doryaki arrived with chestnuts, and a vanilla salted caramel glace which had a surprisingly sparing quantity of salt. The sandwich style chestnuts were aptly stamped with a burnt wabi logo, but on the rather dry side. Together, these did not rise beyond ordinary, despite having psychedelic and attractive plating design.
Chocol-8 was eight textures of chocolate. And while intriguing on the kaleidoscopic plate with a globe of solid chocolate and flakes of semi-fluid and powderous, glittering chocolate, the tastes were almost identical across the palate. The milk chocolate medallion was topped with a milky marshmallow showered with chocolate dust and biscuit balls, which, in any other presentation, would seem like very good grocery store candy!
The whimsical part was to crack the globe open. While the process was fun, the inside was a bit of a convoluted mess of four chocolate textures. My first quirky thought was: clearly the gas component is missing! A chocolate ice cream poured out with a nutty brittle and a mousse, which while appetizing to watch and list out, did not rise beyond normal to entice the taste buds.
It seemed that Wabi was a mixed bag of luxury that fell short of opulent. Or like a jigsaw with a piece or two missing, rendering it rather incomplete. And so, with a belly full of a circius of flavors and ingredients, we tumbled out onto the tinkling streets of a chilly London night.