Why I like Japanese – because they use Chilli Hair!

Japanese has always been one of my favourite cuisines, as even though I don’t cook it much I love eating it. It is like the opposite of my hearty, bold flavours – something so cerebral, artistic and simple at its best. On a recent trip to Noosa in Queensland Australia I had the privilege of eating at Wasabi that sits on the Noosa River. This is the perfect spot of serenity for Japanese offerings.

Chef Shinichi Maeda gave us one exotic taste experience after another. His signature dish is the Hiramasa Ponzu which I didn’t try that night but was highly recommended. Instead I went for the Sashimi platter that jumped off the plate in freshness and glistened of the sea. I am always reminded of my favourite sashimi in the fish markets in Tokyo when I taste something so fresh, simple and perfect mouth feel all at the same time.

We continued on with Yuke which was mooloolaba big eye tuna tartar, black flying fish roe, yuzo miso and kinome salt, again the flavours married into a sensational dish filled with the crunch of the roe against the softness of the tartar which balanced into a taste sensation. The Age Dashi which is always one of my favourites was probably my least favourite this night. Fried, hand made organic silken tofu in hot dashi broth, daikon, aichi, and red miso eggplant. While the presentation at the table of pouring the broth over the tofu was very engaging, I found the tofu overly soft, lacking sufficient texture to hold its own in the broth, and the taste of the broth somewhat muddled with strong onion flavour. It may have been more original than I have had before but it didn’t quite meet up to my expectations of the dish.

The clincher though was the Suji Nikomi, slow braised wagyu oxtail, Tasmanian green lip abalone, shitake mushrooms, lotus root and edammame puree with chilli hair. This was special; rich in taste, textures that worked beautifully and the chilli hair added the right spice for the dish. I found out then that the chilli hair was just ever so finely sliced chilli that stood up on the plate to give the dish a delightful eye appeal and a nice touch of spice, without overpowering it. This dish was soul food for the Japanese-lover in me.

The Amai Mono, a dessert platter of bamboo leaf wrapped mocchi, banana tempura, azuki green tea, black sesame seed and kinako ice cream was refreshing, interesting and again the texture matches by chef was perfect for the dish.

Wasabi is highly acclaimed in Australia and deserves its status as one of our better Japanese dining experiences. The fact that it is in one of the most beautiful locations on the Sunshine Coast just adds to the ambience of the restaurant – palm trees, water, stunning beaches and a restaurant like Wasabi to bring it all together for an amazing experience in food. Highly recommended.

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