Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: Wacha

I really enjoy reading blogs and part of the reason is because you get this information overload of where to go, what to eat. It's great to have such a community and that we're building one in Singapore.

This place has been written up all over blogs. It's even, I think, been written up in the papers. So it's such a mystery to me, why it isn't more crowded than the it's been the last, oh, four times that I've been there. Pray though, that it stays that way. I'm so okay with the extra space, as long as it stays open.

This is the home of the $35, beautifully presented, four course, Japanese home-style cooking, dinner set. I love, love, love this place, their decor, their chef (kisses to the chef!), the location, perched on Ang Siang Hill, behind the hot Maxwell Market and hip Scarlet Boutique hotel. I have the distinct pleasure of working in this area, so I can often arrange for dinners with friends here. It's a delight to introduce them to the homey, unique and creative space.

The shophouse is home to a little shop selling Japanese crockery, fabrics and lacquerware. The pieces are exquisite and expensive and they are displayed beautifully on the custom-made shelving, as well as draped over the limited seating. The concept is to have a shop and a restaurant, or rather a chef's space, inside the shop. You eat, surrounded by bonsai and drink tea from the matching sets of Japanese teapots and cups.

You should definitely have the proprietors recommend some teas. On my last visit, each person chose a different tea, so we all got to try the gyokuru, the sencha, the mugicha and the bitter tea, which I've forgotten the name of. (For some reason I want to say Futomaki, but it's definitely not. I have Futomaki on the brain tonight, it seems). I also have a soft spot for mugicha so I thought that was an absolute knock-out with its strong whole roasted barley after-taste, but they were all excellent and had the long, lingering, textured taste of top-quality and freshly brewed teas.

The appetizers come in a nifty little Japanese birdcage and are a two-storied variety of home-cooked goodies- potato salad, hijiki with daikon, a delicate fern-like seaweed soaked in vinegar. On one occasion, we were greedy and ordered more dishes of tempura and fried calimari and those were delicious as well.

The second course was a savory, rich broth with agedashi tofu and eggplant. I normally don't even like eggplant, but this is stewed so finely and richly that I just gulped it down. I love agedashi tofu, so I was entirely enjoying this menu. The main course was a choice of salmon, chicken or unagi with rice and soup.

I always wind up with the unagi and I usually ask them to subsitute the white rice with their green tea fried rice, which has little dried shrimp in it and is textured, flavourful and comforting.

One of the best things about Wacha is that the chef makes desserts everyday. There is usually a variety on offer as well, so you can choose something out of the set. On that particular day, it was a strawberry ice cream with green tea cookies, all home-made. Another time, it was a wonderful, light strawberry sponge cake and yet another time, it was a green tea sponge roll with strawberries.

I am really happy with this find and that the others decided to share it. Definitely pay the place a visit but book ahead!


14 Ann Siang Road
Singapore 069694
Tel: +65 6438 1553
Open 2pm - 11pm Monday - Saturday

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