It’s tough at the top, being a food blogger slash critic slash human vacuum cleaner slash wordsmith. All this slashing you’d be forgiven for thinking the instrument of execution is a sword rather than a pen but no, yesterday it was all chopsticks and I was all thumbs. Thumbs up that is, having worked my way with intrigue through a nine course tasting menu (or Kaiseki to be more accurate) at the preview of Wabi London, due to open in five weeks and from what I could gather yesterday it will certainly be worth the wait.
Expect modern Japanese gastronomy fused with European influence, expect an open plan kitchen, expect flair, expect a sake sommelier, expect the unexpected, even better don’t expect anything at all, that way it will all be a surprise. So if you absolutely love surprises then maybe don’t read any further because I absolutely love writing about food and I’m going to tell you about a few of the treats on offer yesterday at Scott Hallsworth’s emporium of cool.
Scott is an Australian with a passion for Japanese cuisine and after working his way up to head chef at Nobu London, he set up the Melbourne operation. He then came back to the UK and opened Wabi in Horsham. I’ve always found that Japanese food translates remarkably well to other countries, when properly sourced and prepared. It relies on very small flourishes and flavours that make all the difference. The name Wabi is derived from the Japanese aesthetic principle of Wabi-sabi, a movement characterised by simple, understated beauty. In actual fact most of the creations on offer yesterday were very striking, so perhaps simple isn’t quite the right adjective. Impressive, delicious, sure but not all simple. If it was that simple we’d all be doing it right?
So without further ado or adon’t or a maybe I won’t, here are my top three dishes (the rest you’ll have to discover for yourselves)
Yellowtail Sashimi with Yuzu Soy Espuma and Smokey Nasu. Soft, succulent, tender and delicate. Redolent of mountains and sea. I was back in Kyoto, meandering through the mazes of Edo and Shinto temples, smelling woodsmoke over the deciduous forest floor.
Chilled Somen noodles with Shiitake soup, wasabi, ginger and crunchies. A taste and texture explosion. Grand on the plate, grander on the taste buds.
Chocol-8. A sensational arrangement of eight different types of chocolate. An interstellar explosion of cocoa nonsense on a plate I was sorely tempted to half-inch. Just kidding. There was a chocolate shell full of chocolate sorbet, there was chocolate foam, frozen chocolate powder, nuggets of ganache; basically a melange of super-textures, all smelling sweetly as you would expect. That’s a lot of chocolate. I’d go so far as to say it should be a sharing dish.
I can tell you diddly-squat (means nothing) about the interior as it was a shell yesterday, but I suspect it will be as first rate as the service and the food were. Five weeks folks; watch this space. For those of you who can’t wait, head to Wabi Horsham where you can graze to your heart’s content.
One last shot (I couldn’t resist) BBQ pork belly buns with spicy peanut soy. A dark, rich, treacly sauce with tender pork in a soft chewy bun.