Wakenbo (VIC)30 December 2020
Hidden down a back street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, is this hidden gem of a restaurant. Run by husband and wife team, Ken and Noriko they have come as close to the perfect restaurant I have ever been to. Small and cosy with only 30 seats you feel you have found a secret oasis, which believe me you have.
The beautiful but minimalistic design is both fine-dining and relaxed-homeliness. Solid stonework and beautiful wood, the restaurant took 6 months to fit out. You are greeted by genuine enthusiasm as you enter and the service is professional but friendly, warm, and educated and you are made to feel welcome and that you belong.
The food itself is spectacular. We ordered the 6 course omakase (degustation) which was one delight after another. Everything was made fresh and served like a piece of art-on-plate and almost felt sacrilegious to eat. Almost! In fact, it would have been criminal not to eat it as it was mouthful after mouthful of pure heaven. And unlike many degustation restaurants that think it is somehow obligatory to give tiny, hardly visible portions on enormous plates, Wakenbo’s courses are substantial and very reasonably priced for what you get.
This is modern Japanese. Japanese fusion and I didn’t see a grain of rice or a drop of miso soup ( though I’m guessing you could probably order them if you wanted). Each course is packed with subtle flavours all designed by this Master Chef Kenji, who leaned his craft at Tsuji Culinary Institute in Tokyo and worked in Tokyo and Adelaide before moving to Melbourne.
The omakase course changes every month, and if I lived in Melbourne I would be going there at least once a month. Do yourself a FLAVOUR and visit the best Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.