Wabi Sabi Salon offers imaginative Japanese cuisine in a unique setting
Collingwood’s Wabi Sabi Salon, sister restaurant to Wabi Sabi Garden in St Kilda, is a delight. A purveyor of fine Japanese food, its menu is dissimilar enough to that of Garden to make it well worth trying both. In fact, the Collingwood restaurant would be worth a visit even if that weren’t the case, purely for being such an unusual venue.
The main dining room is small, cosy and often crowded, with wood walls, traditional Japanese hangings and a small loft area to the rear. Passing through the back door and through a small Japanese-style garden leads to a teahouse-style structure where, having removed their shoes, diners sit on the floor around low tables.
Although it’s harder to flag the attention of the staff out there, during the summer months we recommend requesting a table in the teahouse, both to take in the ambience and enjoy the fresh air that blows through the open sides.
There are two dining styles offered: standard à la carte or Japanese tapas. Mains sit at around the $25–$30 mark, and include sukiyaki-style wagyu beef meatballs with mozzarella, a sizzling tofu steak with basil and mountain vegetables and whole flounder tempura with lime sauce. Ordering a mix of tapas dishes is the best option for sharing. Try the eggplant with tempeh and okra, served in a hollowed-out raw eggplant with ankake sauce; root vegetable and tofu tempura drizzled with chilli mayo; or the grilled prawns with shiitake mushroom.
Traditional and fusion varieties of sashimi are available, and several Japanese-inflected takes on Western desserts – crème brulée, chocolate mousse – round out the dining experience. There is a separate takeaway menu if you don’t have time to linger, and the counter at the front door offers some very good sushi hand rolls at lunchtimes.
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|Venue name:||Wabi Sabi Salon|
94 Smith St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 12 noon-3pm & 6-11pm|