Wabi Sabi Garden

I’ve been wanting to blog about this place ever since I started work around the area. To start with, it’s most of the office’s go-to lunch time source of sushi. When I stumbled upon it via Google Maps, I was fascinated by the lovely gem I had found. All I wanted was sushi after all – so how exciting could it be?

But their sushi was not your typical flavours, coming with unique Australian fish and tofu in interesting sauces. The variety and wonderful fresh flavours ensure a loyal corporate following at lunchtime.

Furthermore, after deciding I would eat my sushi in and observing their stools shaped as cupped hands at the front, I was led to a whole other room where people were dining, with the intricate lamp above provided a warming atmosphere.

The place was full of surprises. They even brought up my sushi rolls to me nicely sliced, and here I thought I was going to have a casual sushi lunch. I really enjoyed their fish sushi, somehow it just provided a lovely flaky and tasty sensation and I do reckon it has something to do with the fish they used.

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I did notice a back area that looked nicer from where I was dining but assumed it was more for functions and dinner time. However, on another visit my coworker walked right to the back area, through and past the little Japanese garden and pond.

There was only one other couple sitting here, perhaps another two people who knew they would not be refused their request to sit there by the lovely Japanese owners. The area was an open section looking over the mini garden and we were told we could even order from the dinner menu if we like.

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I already knew I wanted the wagyu meatballs, but was also tempted by the tender pork belly as I’d just recently had a wagyu burger that week. But, I couldn’t resist the sound of the Western idea of meatballs accompanied by a combination of Japanese red miso and demi-glace (rich, brown French) sauce. Even better, we were told that the this meal was the “Meat Bento” ($16) of the day, thus all of us ordered this rather than just the the meatballs with rice ($19).

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Another benefit of this place is the option to have brown rice, a win for many of you health freaks out there, as I did above. I enjoyed having the option of a bento as it meant a bit more variety in the meal. They aren’t too quick with food but still fast enough to have for your one hour lunch break. The dumpling in the top right was a little hard, and I was a bit confused if it was from being frozen or the resulting crunchy texture was on purpose. I think they were going for crunchy – but I’m still a little confused.

The meatballs were really lovely and then made me regret having a bento because I wanted more! There were only four in the bento. It was a dark and rich sauce, but not too much of it, and it provided a peppery aftertaste. I also enjoyed the touch of mayonnaise on the vegies. It was a good value meal that I was happy with but not something I feel the need to rave about.

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However, I do recommend this place, for their ambience and decor, their friendliness and fresh sushi. I reckon their dine-in meals might be hit and miss, although I haven’t tried their dinner menu. I enjoy that they are trying to experiment and especially enjoy the display seating in the above picture.

This section is always empty so I assume it must be reserved for special occasions as the other dining sections do not have this traditional setting and seating. More information on the venue and the Japanese owners/chef can be found in this article if you’re interested!

Wabi Sabi Garden is located at 17 Wellington St, St Kilda (just off St Kilda Road). They also have a branch called Wabi Sabi Salon in Collingwood/Fitzroy.

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