Wayo Japanese Dining, 286 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9376 5484
Ahh, 286 Racecourse Road …
For many years it was the site of this site’s preferred charcoal chicken shop.
Its products were not in any way different or better than those of most similar places.
But when the mood for such trashy food was upon us, we always received a warm welcome there.
And they served their in-house food on real plates with real cutlery.
But now it’s the home of a chic new Japanese eatery.
It looks good, and we enjoy the service and the promptness with which our food is delivered to us.
And on the basis of our first lunch there, we reckon that if Wayo was situated in, say, the CBD, Fitzroy or Prahran, the queues would already be forming.
There’s a few sushi rolls in the display cabinet, but mostly the menu sticks to some basic yet enticing bowls and grills.
The entree list numbers 12 – order all or most of them and you’d have a mighty spread of Japanese-style tapas for a table of four or so punters.
From that list we choose charcoal grilled vegetables (large serve, $13.50) as a shared starter.
The vegetables – wonderfully including fennel – are beautifully cooked, taste as good and go great with the dark, lusty sesame sauce.
The only quibble we have is with what seems to be a rather steep price.
Bennie chooses a simple bowl of curry with rice ($10; the same meal is available with chicken cutlet for $14).
The lad is a little underwhlemed.
He reckons the beef quotient is neither here nor there.
But it tastes good to me, the gravy being a rich brown, deep of flavour and – of course – of only mild spiciness.
Maybe he’s outright envious of his dad’s meal.
Charcoal grilled chicken ($13) with yakiniku BBQ sauce is a delight.
The miso soup appears as if it may be quite a class above that served in most cheap Japanese places, stuffed as it is with onion chunks and more.
But we both find it a tad flavourless.
I suspect this style of miso soup is supposed to look and taste just as we have been provided, but we miss that miso tang nevertheless.
The thigh pieces are much better – only lightly grilled, they boast splendid chook flavour.
That flavour is quite subtle, though, so I may have been better off choosing one of the other, less robust sauces available.
Quite apart from our meals and experience in general, it’s the attention to detail at Wayo that really impresses.
It would be easy to bluntly dismiss, for instance, my serve of potato salad as just a pile cold mashed spud.
But that would be to ignore the skill with which the potato has been cooked and dressed to be fully tender yet maintain such a wonderful, grainy texture.
Likewise with the green salad provided with both our meals – the ingredients are super fresh, well-balanced and dressed with a delicacy seldom seen in such contexts.
We like, too, the rustic wooden tables.
Blogger note of appreciation: They are non-reflective!
Even the handsome wooden chop sticks and soup spoons add their own touch of joy and class to the Wayo experience.
We suggest the Wayo crew might want to place a sign somewhere that says something along the lines of:
“1. Please order at counter.
2. Please pay when ordering.
3. Cash only.
4. Thank you!”
That way any potential confusion, embarrassment or disappointment may be avoided!
Even with the minor caveats expressed above, we are very eager to return.