Disclosure: I was invited to dine at Wagyu Ya as a guest
In a time in Melbourne where the dining scene is taking a turn to smart casual, with share type dishes, exciting and bold on flavours, or if more upmarket, elaborate and delicate and tweezer-ed to high heaven, where do you go for a meal with just lush ingredients at their best?
We found it at Wagyu Ya in South Yarra.
Wagyu Ya specialises in…you guessed it, top grade wagyu, grilled on their 'smokeless' Japanese charcoal grills. But more than that, as we discovered, is that there's a lush range of Japanese food, with some items that would leave you hard pressed to find anywhere else!
The restaurant is divided into and upstairs and downstairs area, downstairs houses a small sushi counter and a handful of tables…but it's really upstairs where you want to be, with the charcoal grills filling the air with their delicious aromas.
Unlike typical Asian barbeque's, the grill at Wagyu Ya is considered 'smokeless' as rather than utilising a exhaust to suck up the smoke, there's a ring that fits around the perimeter of the grill and sucks the smoke through the sides. It's quite fascinating to watch, and it really does noticeably cuts down the amount of smoke. I was surprised when I went home that none of my clothes actually smelt of smoke!
But I'm jumping the gun a bit here, let's start at the beginning with our entrees.
And wow. What a beginning! A real sashimi showpiece, a stunning display of colour. I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last had sashimi, and goodness, it was fantastic to be reunited, especially when it was so lovely and so fresh! Generously cut slices of fish were meaty, yet sweet, and the scallops just lazily slipped into the mouth, melting onto the tongue. Glorious.
Adorable pots of chawanmushi warmed us up again, smooth and silky.
Chicken wings were rich, succulent and just so juicy, with a seasoning that added just a touch of heat.
Wagyu Ya's version of steak tartare was exquisite, with finely cut strips of wagyu, a glorious magenta colour, with a golden yolk, combining together beautifully. A sprinkle of sesame seeds and chopped spring onion brings an Asian twist to this dish.
The fusion of rich products and Japanese cuisine continued thereafter with a decadent serve of wagyu beef sushi, tender, tender strips of wagyu that just melted into the mouth, marinated in an absolutely delicious sauce. The meat just melted in your mouth, just beautifully fatty.
And if you thought that was lush, cast your eyes onto the foie gras sushi! I simply couldn't believe my eyes! Although absolutely stunning, with a gorgeous smooth texture, I felt the flavour was a little restrained with this and didn't get the full richness I expected…although the next dish made up for that…tenfold!
This foie gras rice dish, came topped with shavings of truffle as well and once it hit the table just oozed into the air with decadently rich aromas, which quickly left me swooning. Once our photos were taken, they proceeded to mix everything up in the dish together the fatty foie gras melting into the rice, leaving a slick feel to the lips afterwards, which had you licking it up for more. Goodness, what a combination. Talk about a luxe comfort dish! I would quite easily just visit Wagyu Ya just to have this on it's own.
Wagyu Ya's selection of wagyu is seriously impressive. This is the serve for two, which initially surprised me with how big it was, but by the time you cook it, it does reduce a bit as the fat oozes out. Mmhmm.
For curiosity sake, this is the serve for four people, which when we saw at the end of the night almost bowled us over just by it's sheer size!
It was great to try all the different cuts, each delicious in it's own way, whether it be from melt in the mouth texture, or rich meaty flavour. The definite star was the 10+ grade cuts we had, and it was amazing how much you could tell the difference by tasting it. Wagyu Ya recommended that we had it last after all the other cuts, as it's richness would overwhelm everything else…and they weren't lying!
To finish, our night wrapped up with some lovely serves of green tea cheesecakes, with crumbly biscuit bases. Not too sweet, just the perfect note to end on.
Believe me, we were rolling out of there. It's a decadent and delicious feed, which comes with a relatively big price tag, but for some absolutely top product. Previously I had never really understood the hype or interest in Asian barbeque, but it's really about how the meat's prepared for you, sliced so thin and infused with the smokiness of the charcoal and at Wagyu Ya, it's done well.
156 Toorak Road
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