Patronage at Wasabiya Japanese restaurant in the Carrefour building has been very high since they opened; so much so, in fact, that they have now expanded their offering and have opened a great new restaurant besides the grand canal and the enchantingly scenic and ancient Gongcheng bridge. When you arrive at this restaurant, insist on a river view and you will not be disappointed, as I can honestly say that, for ambience and location, it is one of the best places to dine in Hangzhou.
If you’ve already eaten at the original branch of Wasabiya, then you’ll need no description of the fine faire on offer; but if you haven’t (or you’d like a little recap anyway) then please read on.
The MORE Chew-Crew gathered like a pack of baying hounds, picked up the sashimiscent, and were then skilfully guided by the master of the hunt to the restaurant’s location in thenorth of the city. Sniffing out our quarry we entered the den of feasting and began to order a fairly representative selection from the menu. Starting with a gorgeously presented mixed platter of sashimi, containing all the usual yummy suspects, we moved onto the equally scrumptious sushi with a couple of plates of California and ‘Motor’ rolls, but what gave these dishes the edge was that they are served with a freshly peeled wasabi root and an accompanying grater. Real wasabi is extremely difficult to source and this nice little touch from the restaurant demonstrated an obsession for quality and authenticity.
Next upcame,quite possibly,the crispiest and tastiest shrimp and aubergine tempura I can remember ever having in Hangzhou. The shrimp were huge and sweet and the aubergine was divine in such a way that vegetables should never be described as such! Moving swiftly on, the next item on the menu was the ‘lava cooked’ Kobe beef which is prepared at your table. A super-hot block of lava rock is placed at the table’s edge whereupon wafer thin slices of the famous marbled beef are placed for a few seconds on each side. They are then served with a fresh & spicy dip that elevates the fine flavour of the beef into very moreish morsels indeed.
Our final dish was the snow crab hotpot which is essentially a seafood version of the famous Sukiyaki hotpot. A basic stock of miso, mirin and soy sauce is brought to the table and heated and then the magic slowly unfolds as one by one, ingredients are added to refine the stock. First a tomato or two, then some shitake mushrooms, quickly followed by a handful of scallions and Chinese cabbage.Udon noodles are added next along with some fine enokitake mushrooms and finally the cracked snow crab. A few moments later you have undoubtedly one of the finest hotpots to be had in town and that’s coming from a man none too fond of crab.
All in all, this was an experience at the pinnacle of perfection, and I really do hope to go back there again very soon indeed. By the time this article is printed, the restaurant will have opened the downstairs bar and outside seating area, where you can unwind after a hard week’s toil and listen to the soft chugging of canal traffic whilst having a sip of your favourite tipple. Enjoy!