What could be better than spending a night in a company of great friends, especially when delicious food is involved? Nothing! Last Friday we headed out to the heart of Tokyo with our dear friends to enjoy New Zealand cuisine. The choice fell on Wakanui Grill & Bar which is highly acclaimed for the pasture-raised beef and lamb.
Conveniently located in Higashi Azabu, Wakanui offers front row view of the Tokyo Tower via its indoor and outdoor terraces. Its interior design is low-key yet ambiance is pleasant and inviting. Here, the focus is on food, meat to be precise, as demonstrated by the display of the rack of lamb and other cuts at the very entrance.
The menu features Ocean Beef, grass-fed beef and spring lamb, all sourced from New Zealand. They’ve got a range of delicious New Zealand fare on the menu, with highlights such as green and white asparagus with Jamón Serrano, dressed with Hollandaise Sauce; steamed green-lipped mussels; and different grilled cuts, of course. We opted for the tasting menu which seemed like an absolute bargain – five courses finished off with tea or coffee for 10,000 YEN.
We started off with a perfectly cooked lamb chop which whetted our appetite for what’s to come. I will be honest, I am not a fan of lamb at all. Its slightly gamey taste and aroma can come on a little strong sometimes, but the lamb I tried at Wakanui was nothing I have tasted before. The meat here gets special treatment – it is aged to perfection in their on-site aging room that makes it tender and juicy yet devoid of any unpleasant flavor. That, plus the mind-blowing smoky flavor from the binchotan coal from Kishu (considered Japan’s best) that they use to chargrill the meat made our meat courses nothing short of amazing.
For our next two courses, we enjoyed a refreshing salad with tasty vinaigrette dressing and the hot smoked New Zealand King Salmon served alongside delicious clam chowder. Salmon was undeniably our perennial favorite of the night – juicy, tender and flaky, with the irresistible smoky flavor coupled with acidity from the fresh tomato topping. It was a dream salmon and I savored every bite of it, ferociously hoping J would leave some of his behind for me to snatch. Who was I kidding?!
The main course of the tasting menu included Ocean Beef ribeye, grass-fed beef fillet and rack of Spring lamb – all beautifully presented on the wooden board. It was then whisked away back into the kitchen where it was cut in smaller pieces and served alongside potato wedges and sautéed spinach. As you can see, portions in Wakanui are quite generous and meat dishes are intended to be shared among the group.
We finished off with a dessert – picture-perfect pavlova with homemade “hokey pokey“ ice-cream made quite the impression. Although after three bites I had to admit the defeat. J eagerly came to my rescue and polished it off in no time.
All I could do was take my cup of coffee to the outdoor terrace and sip it while admiring the view of the Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge not too far behind. It was the last day of Koinobori, the festival commemorating Children’s Day. Colorful carp-shaped wind socks were on display to symbolize courage and strength expressing hope that each boy in the family will grow up healthy and strong like wild carps swimming up the stream.
Staff at Wakanui are very friendly and courteous, although if I had to complain about something it would be slightly slow service. There were approximately 15-minute intervals between the courses. However, when you are in a company of friends and a good wine is involved you don’t quite notice the time. As we were exiting the restaurant (read: emerging from the tunnel of the food coma), I’m sure all of us were thinking one thing: “When shall we visit again?”
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