Waqu, Crows Nest

This restaurant has since closed.

As one of the more reasonably priced degustation menus in Sydney, Waqu is popular among the lovers of Japanese fusion cuisine and has consistently hit the mark every time I have been there over the past 3 years. The stylish dimmed lighting adds just enough atmosphere and the polished wooden interior feels modern and elegant, reflecting the style of the food that they serve.

There is no longer an a la carte option on the menu and this time around, I’m trying out their Autumn Menu, since they change their set degustation menu between seasons. Waqu’s signature dish was the amazingly tasty spicy soft shell crab taco, which was a constant through all the menu changes in the past, but has mysteriously been left off the new Autumn menu. While I was apprehensive about whether its replacement dish would live up to that standard, it was a refreshing change to try something different in the first course.

The 6 courses for $60 pp:

1. Amuse: Soy milk chawan-mushi, ricotta zucchini flower tempura & prawn, frittata, tonnato sauce

The presentation of the food was very clean and the zucchini flower tempura was satisfyingly crunchy, matching well with the accompanying sauce. The chawan-mushi was deliciously smooth and warming, however the Japanese mushrooms which covered it were slightly too salty and the lone prawn accompanying the zucchini tempura was also too salty for my liking.

2. Soup: Scallop mousse in kaffir lime soup with tapioca, fried leek and kaffir lime leaf

The soup was very light and there was no apparant kaffir lime taste. The scallop mousse was appetising when mixed with the sprig of fried leek and the little tapioca balls floating around the soup added a dash of chewy texture to keep things from being too bland.

3. Sashimi: Cured ocean trout, pink grapefruit ginger mousse, ocean trout ravigote tartare

I have always found ocean trout to be very similar to salmon and this dish tasted a lot like smoked salmon but with a zesty twist when mixed with the grapefruit mousse. The fish was fresh and the salsa-like chopped vegetables on the side were surprisingly tasty and complemented the fish nicely. There was also a small mound of beetroot salt on the side, which I dipped part of the trout into and it added a welcome extra layer of savoury goodness to the flavour of the fish.

4. Entree: Mussel & Clam Risotto and Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek Apple Tatin

My friend ordered the mussel and clam risotto and it was heavenly, with the juices from the shellfish being infused in the rice. Although I wanted to order the same dish since it sounded so good from the menu, I decided to go for variety and try out the other option of wagyu which was presented interestingly as a layered tart – pastry on the bottom, braised beef cheek in the middle layer and caramelised apple on the top. It was an odd medley of sweet and savoury flavours, finished with the texture of crumble from the pastry but not bad overall although I preferred the risotto. The highlight of the wagyu dish was the airy wasabi meringue accompanying it, which tasted almost like wasabi flavoured crackers.

5. Main: Roasted duck breast, sauteed artichoke and shiitake, artichoke foam, prosciutto crumb

The duck was tender and soft, with just the right amount of spice but the most interesting part of the dish was the artichoke foam, which was a froth of bubbles and felt almost like scented air when you tasted it. Underneath the foam rested the artichoke and shiitake which were nice and fresh, and beneath the deepfried pastry basket holding the artichoke was a scatter of prosciutto crumbs which tasted like flakes of dried prosciutto mixed with sea salt. Very tasty!

6. Dessert: Persimmon three way: granita, green tea infused compote and almond tart

Persimmon is also known as fuyu fruit and it is not a fruit which I commonly see being used in desserts when dining out, but the chef did a good job with this dessert. The flavour of the fruit wasn’t very strong throughout the three different components of the dessert but the dessert itself was delicious, particularly the green tea infused compote which tasted like ice cream.

Service: The service is as per usual polite Japanese standards but the explanations of the dishes can get a bit garbled with their accents…although they always finish with a smile. The wait between dishes wasn’t too bad earlier on in the night before the restaurant started getting packed, after which there was quite a lag between our mains and the serving of our dessert.

Verdict: Classy, understated fusion Japanese degustation which ticks most of my boxes and leaves you wanting to lick your plate clean for certain courses. Great value for money for a 6 course degustation and even more so with an Entertainment book discount which brings the price down to $45 per person.

Definitely will be coming back for more later, even without the spicy soft shell crab taco on the menu anymore…although I hope they will be bringing it back one day because it was literally mouthwateringly tasty.

308 Pacific Highway, Crows Nest NSW 2065
(02) 9906 7736
Open Tue-Thu,Sun 6pm-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm

Waqu on Urbanspoon


  • Yay !! So excited, another food blog to join the growing community of sydney food bloggers

    Food looks delish and ive been wanting to go here for ageeeeees
    Will def have to check it out ! 😉

  • Bluehikaru says:

    We thought trying something new however was not impressed with their customer service overall….a dozen of us went to Waqu on a friday evening for dinner. We arrived there a little early and waited until their opening time but their big restaurant door was still locked. We waited for another 5 minutes and had to ring the restaurant to remind them to open for business for the night. Anyway We booked their private room with 6 course autumn menu and some of us also had the matching wines option.

    Staff there generally did not seem having a good mood as the ones in other Japanese ‘fine dinning’ restaurants who always offer services with friendly and helpful attitude with a SMILE all the time. Instead they looked a bit stressed.

    Degustation plates and matching wine was creative and pretty but cant really tell if it is really fused with Japanese essence. Most dishes just look like Australian dish to me. They tasted just all right. Not particularly memorable but just ok. We ended up going to another crows nest restaurant after this due to the relative compacted version of their ‘fine’ dishes. By the way since we ordered same course most of the times and we realised the food portion for each plate were always uneven.

    As we only had our meal in the private room, we had to judge the ambience for its private room. Actually it is more like a section of the restaurant with gyprocks separating the area near the kitchen and bathrooms, one of the walls in between of the public and private dinning area did not have the top part enclosed! so no acoustic It is half open, no door for the room which was disappointing. I personally think it is a dismatch with their ‘fine dinning’ concept as normally most high end Japanese restaurant would at least have a door.

    The menu was too inflexible as its set menu and does not have a la carte options at all. Cocktail and dessert list had too few kinds to offer.

    Lastly but not the least, the manager was also rather rude to us and told us off after we had a few drinks and started talking with each other with a bit raised voice and had a couple of laughs. We have a very big group and this situation was unfortunately unavoidable. In reality, Who would just eat their food and without having a few cracked jokes at the table? especially after the alcohol? The public dinning section was even noisier and we we can literally hear anything out there including the noise from the kitchen. The manager kept on saying they are a ‘fine dinning restaurant’ not a public pub while we could not even complain how noisy their public section was!

    Just sharing our bad experience to everyone for your information. I would say this had been the weirdest restaurant we have ever had. We were all very disappointed with this restaurant and will never go back again.

    • That’s a shame that your experience was let down by the service – I haven’t been in awhile and didn’t have any problems with the service when I went last time, but perhaps the waitstaff have changed since then.

  • bluehikaru says:

    Hey there~Very efficient of you replying my reviews~= D The plates were focusing on the presentation a lot, but it just stopped there, all others such as flavour and service were not following. What a shame!

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