The Chameleon. Lurking in the urban jungle, undetected, unknown, blending into the ever changing landscape, sampling everything from fine dining to reviewing take away joints, this lizard loves food possibly a little bit too much.

WAGAYA (Brisbane)

Overall score: 95/100


Japan. What a wonderfully different country compared to Australia, both in terms of it's direct cuisine, it's fascination with technology and, perhaps most importantly, it's relentless pursuit of super efficiency and perfection. The Chameleon enjoyed a trip to this wonderful country a while ago and ever since has had a fascination with all things Japan, especially the food. Nowhere has the Chameleon found an equal to the Japanese restaurants seen in Kyoto and Tokyo, until a visit to Wagaya in the Brisbane Valley.

When it comes to a place to eat that has a Japanese background, you expect, above all things, efficiency. As the restaurant opened at EXACTLY when it said it would, the patrons waiting outside all began to flow through the doors, up the stairs, a bit like a tidal wave of bodies stoushing to be the first seated. They need not have bothered, as within five minutes, everyone was happily playing with their ordering touch screens (and there must have been at least 50 of us). 

The timber booths made the Chameleon very happy. The design was so good in fact, the Chameleon has since been dreaming of replicating such a booth in his own hidden cave, they were THAT good. The right amount of privacy, the right amount of light and separation from other guests and coincidentally, the right amount of Japanese/oriental styling. 

The ordering screen was a new concept for the Chameleon and it provided many minutes of fun while waiting for orders, as navigating through the menus was easy and seeing the pictures of the deliciousness which was to come was a unique experience. Not that he could play with it long; in typical Japanese style, the service was OUTSTANDING. In fact, this came very close to replicating the best service the Chameleon has ever received, which was coincidentally in Japan (and one fine restaurant also came close in Positano, Italy). The key touch that made Wagaya exceptional though, was the strategic positioning of a maple tree inside the restaurant. It was on the way to the toilets that the Chameleon caught a glimpse of the function area, where this tree with pretty red leaves stood, taking the Chameleon back to the wonderful landscapes of, you guessed it, Japan. A small touch that framed the experience very nicely indeed.

Let's be clear that not all sushi is the same. Over and over again, sushi that is purchased as a take away meal in the 'roll' style, does not even remotely come close to the exquisite flavours, textures and perfect presentation of what the Chameleon likes to call 'real sushi'. And Wagaya showed with precise accuracy the difference. The small meals the Chameleon sampled over the roughly hour and a half stay, were all, and I do mean ALL, very well executed dishes. The highlight was the abalone, which was of course ridiculously expensive and, since it was the first time the Chameleon sampled this super expensive Rolls Royce of foods, he had nothing to compare it to, but boy, he loved the unique texture and delicate taste.

There was nothing the Chameleon could criticise about the food, the service, the location and virtually anything else about the Wagaya experience. Actually, come to think of it, it was relatively expensive, but well worth it, so even saying that would be unfair. There was one small unavoidable dilemma; there was limited option at the lower end of the menu. Yes, Wagaya is an outstanding restaurant, but by no means can it afford to be exclusive when considering its Valley location. 

When considering the overall package that was Wagaya, it's very difficult to criticise  the experience. It's Japan authentic. It was almost the epitome of customer service, the best in Australia the Chameleon has ever received. If you want to sample Japanese cuisine almost in Japan, Wagaya is the best choice in Brissie. 95/100

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