I’d heard people talking about the touch screen ordering system at new Fortitude Valley Japanese Izakaya style eatery Wagaya, which put me in mind of AA Gill’s review of London restaurant Bob Bob Ricard where much was made of the ‘bring champagne’ button installed at every table. Sadly the review is now very securely on the other side of Uncle Rupert’s paywall. A memorable review in which Bob Bob Ricard received zero points.
I’m not in the habit of awarding points, which is a good thing, because Wagaya would be a tough one to score.
A somewhat cavernous venue, comprising all booth seating for somewhere between 150 – 200, along with private rooms, Wagaya is located upstairs from Chinatown Mall in the long vacant space in the redeveloped TC Beirne building. I give a broad estimate on seats, because how many you can fit in a booth will depend on the sort of arses being accommodated.
There’s some novelty in ordering via touchscreen, and like self checkout at the supermarket, it has some advantages. Food comes quickly and even luddites will soon be caught up in the excitement of pressing buttons to make food come. So its handy to be able to get a subtotal for your spend by just selecting a few menu options, lest you get carried away and blow your budget.
We visited at lunch time and ordered a pork katsu bento box, a teriyaki tofu bento box, tuna sashimi and scampi sushi rolls. Complimentary miso soup was bought to our table in a flash. It is very obviously food prepared to approximate Japanese food without quite so much care and focus on ingredients to be the real deal. As mentioned here, it’s a all a little bit Japanese-by-numbers. But still, its cheap, fun and generally pleasing.
The teriyaki tofu was flavourful and the accompanying potato salad croquette was excellent, creamy and with a properly crispy panko crumb exterior. One of the hallmarks of a good Japanese food is the rice, and unusually neither of us finished ours, which was overcooked and unseasoned. The tuna sashimi was OK, but lacked freshness and texture. Presentation of the scampi sushi plate was excellent with heads and claws displayed to dramatic effect. Stodgy tempura batter meant the scampi meat was barely recognisable.
I expect Wagaya will be popular with younger patrons and those looking for a fast and inexpensive meal in the Valley. Queues are common at its Sydney sister restaurant. The Brisbane menu offers plenty of choice, particularly at dinner where there are about 100 dishes on offer. Drinks are also ordered via the touch screen system, but alas there is no Champagne, nor a Champagne button. BYO is available at $2.50 per person – via the touchscreen ordering system.
The room screening and brooding décor puts me in mind of Garuva, though the bench seating does at least raise the age of diners who can eat here – or should I say, the age of diners who can stand and depart unassisted after dinner.
Level 1, TCB Centre
315 Brunswick Street
07 3252 8888
Operated by Yes Food Service Group