Just before we left for Europe at the end of last year we attended the opening night of Waitan, the event was huge with lambos, models and a red carpet out on to the street. Nowadays the restaurant has transformed into a completely different one in less than a year and offers a different experience.
Miss K and I were invited by Amy to dine at Waitan along with three guests (my parents and brother) in order to see how the restaurant has transformed since the opening night. When we arrived at the restaurant I noticed that the venue is still amazing inside with amazing interior design and beautiful decorations. Aesthetically nothing has changed from the launch but the biggest difference was that most waiters are now Asian, at the launch there waiters who were European backpackers with no idea about the food. I’ve heard many other bloggers complain about the level of service they experienced and hopefully this helps.
With Amy taking charge and ordering food we got comfortable and within minutes the first dish arrived which was the duck breast with preserved egg yolk terrine (above). This delicious dish is served cold with a little bit of flair, I forget what the character says but it’s a nice touch that shows they put effort into presentation!
Another one of our first entrees was the amazing poached chicken, I have to say that this was probably one of my favourite dishes of the night. The chicken was so very tender and the aroma from the peanut sauce and chilli oil was mouth watering, luckily for me the sauce wasn’t too spicy as expected 😉
Along with the first batch of food we were also served hot jasmine tea in awesome little tea cups, I’m not exactly a tea connoisseur or anything but I always enjoy some jasmine tea at any Chinese meal and definitely prefer it over wine which I personally find does not match the food at all. That being said there’s a huge range of alcoholic drinks on the menu and a wide selection of wines on offer for those who prefer it.
When I saw this arrive on the table I knew straight away that I would like it, what I didn’t realise however was that it was marinated in wasabi. I couldn’t taste it at the time but now that I think back it definitely had a really interesting taste to it which was unmistakeable. Miss K and I definitely loved the fungi and we both thought the presentation was quite unique and suited the dish.
Another interesting dish that we tried was the sweet and sour prawn salad which is served with a mix of nuts, dragonfruit and mango. The mango was slightly sour but otherwise there were some amazing flavours and delicious prawns that disappeared within minutes of it arriving on the table.
This dish was quite popular with my parents who really love prawns. I’ve never really been a fan and less so if the shells are still on the prawn however I was quickly informed that the shell is required for the presentation and essential to the prawns being served fresh without losing its original texture. The bread sticks served with the prawns were handy for the leftover sauce and also reminded me of man tou bread.
I didn’t have much expectations for fried rice and neither did any of the other people on the table. We were quickly proven wrong when the dish arrived and we discovered it was laced with a variation of crunchy rice which is supposedly deep fried rather than boiled, Miss K ended up proclaiming this as her favourite dish of the night simply because of the great texture and taste.
This was the dish that I was waiting for the whole night, a good sized portion of medium rare wagyu inside-skirt served with three types of sauces. Top quality Blackmore Wagyu beef meant that the meat was amazingly tender to the point of melting in my mouth and extremely delicious. It was served exactly how I enjoy my steak and I could have easily eaten the whole thing without any sauces or sides.
Another of the dishes that I was waiting for the whole night was the Peking duck which is cooked in the dedicated Peking duck oven at the rear of the restaurant. The duck itself was amazingly succulent and tastes amazing exactly as I remember it from the opening night. The unique twist to this dish however is that the pancakes are served on a purpose-made tray with a heat pack and boiling water to keep the pancakes hot and moist which I thought was a really nice touch to a dish that normally turns cold quickly.
As seems to be the norm in Australia we were served San Choy Bau using meat from the duck. Each of the little lettuce cups filled with meat were prepared on a little stand situated next to our table, I personally am not a fan of San Choy Bau but my family enjoyed it especially with leftover hoisin sauce from the peking duck.
To finish off the meal we had a dessert platter consisting of Mango Cream and Sago, Lemon Curd Pavlova and Green Tea/Pepper macarons. I thought the lemon curd and macarons were average at best however my favourite of the lot was definitely the Mango Cream which Miss K and I couldn’t get enough of because of how delicious it was, there’s a whole scoop of ice cream in there! There was also a very small fruit platter served which I thought was quite overpriced, fortunately we were told that it’s usually given complimentary at the end of each meal.
On the second level of the restaurant there is yet another huge floor space dedicated to beautifully decorated private dining rooms and karaoke lounges. I personally feel this is one of the best points about the restaurant as the rooms are intimate and spacious with lots of thought into them.
If you’ve not yet had a chance to visit Waitan I would suggest you give it a go soon. Despite the negative reviews of the service we personally thought it was quite okay and there’s a definite improvement from the experiences others have had. The service isn’t perfect quite yet but as the restaurant matures and invests more into the staff (as they currently are) I would expect the level of service to also improve. On a final note I have to note that the prices have fallen dramatically and are now very similar to the other restaurants in Chinatown, given the choice between some of the tourist traps and Waitan I would certainly pick the latter.
Mr C and Miss K attended as guests of Waitan. All views and opinions expressed are our own.