Leeds has a few Japanese restaurants, some I prefer more than others; Fuji Hiro which I adore, Little Tokyo which I know other people rave about, but I find inconsistent. Wasabi Teppanyaki (Granary Wharf) closed recently and Belgrave Teppanyaki (next to Sandinista) is still open (I think), but apart from that there isn’t much choice, maybe Chino Latino which again I’ve found inconsistent. After that were looking at chains Yo Sushi and Wasabi for a sushi fix.
Sushi Waka opened recently and with the prospect of meeting a Japanese food loving friend imminent, we jumped at the chance of visiting. Also tempted by their opening offer of 20% discount for booked tables, who doesn’t love a discount, a table was booked for 7pm on a Tuesday evening!! Walking up you can’t miss it, with bright signage making it a bit of a beacon. If you wander up to North Bar and the like you cannot miss it!
Being a little eager, I’d had a nosey at the menu and it was like a Japanese food lovers delight: starters like gyoza and takoyaki, sashimi, sushi rolls in different forms, donburi bowls, noodle dishes, bento boxes the list went on!! With that being said quality over quantity is always better, so having such as extensive menu made me think how good it would be.
In its previous guise as an Oriental fusion restaurant (can’t remember its name) I’d never visited, it didn’t look that appetising a place to eat from the outside. Probably a bit harsh, because it’s never stopped me going into places which look worse for wear in the search of a tasty feed!!
It was a Tuesday evening, so a few tables were occupied, but it wasn’t overly busy. A very welcome drinks list was presented to us and we both fancied wine, deciding on a bottle of Merlot, but on ordering were disappointed to be told they only had house wine?! We were a little bemused by the situation, as this could’ve been mentioned earlier. Not wanting anything else other than wine, the house it would have to be, a few minutes later the waitress nervously brought over a bottle of Hardy’s, we’d also asked for some tap water, but this was forgotten about. It did the job, but it did irk me a little that it cost £17.50 though.
It took us a while to order, firstly because we were so engrossed in catching up to peruse the menu, secondly as the menu had lots of choice. Waiting staff did ask if we wanted help and were very patient with us though, until we finally selected a variety of starters and a main dish each.
Now my understanding with Japanese food, is food comes out when they are ready, but as they are listed as starters etc, am I right to assume the dishes would be brought out in this order, unless mentioned otherwise?? Maybe I’m wrong?
Well after waiting quite a long time, at least 40 minutes, dishes were brought out in a haphazard order, donburi first, then starters, edamame which is really an appetiser. Lastly the Tonkatsu which there was some confusion over, whether it would come with rice or not?! This was spread out over a few minutes.
On appearance the food looked good, we were brought Unagi Don, a Donburi dish. I always love the presentation of eel laying on a bed of rice with picked ginger on the side. The meaty texture of the eel was as good as I’d remembered from the past, and with the rice makes for a filling dish.
Our gyoza were tasty, not overly plump with tonnes of filling, but were flavourful. Their wrappers were delicate and had a lightly fried crust. Mixed tempura had been nicely done, everything was coated in a perfectly light, golden batter; the prawns in particular being lovely and juicy. The Kabocha Korokke (pumpkin croquettes) which were very good, were covered in a lovely crust including black sesame seeds. Lastly the edamame were fine, I much prefer them when they just come out of the steamer, lovely and hot.
My friends tonkatsu looked a little odd as it had a white eggy covering on top, I wasn’t really sure what it was. It was supposed to have a katsu sauce which I found altogether lacking. On the plus side the pork tasted good and was still juicy and moist.
Overall it was a bit of a mixed experience, I enjoyed the food, but find disappointing service frustrating. Saying that they have only been open a few weeks, so I’m sure are still finding their feet and will improve in time. Next time, i’ll be trying out the sushi.
The total cost of our meal was £45.20 after a 20% discount, not including service.
Food: extensive menu, generally done well, but some things could be improved .
Service: needs a little work, slow from the kitchen and better communication needed.
Atmosphere: hard to say when there was only a few tables occupied, but it nice to be able to catch up in an environment where the music wasn’t too loud.