Bringing the traditional Japanese kappo philosophy to Melbourne’s W Hotel, Warabi is a 29-seat omakase restaurant serving theatrical courses, expertly paired with sake from across Japan. It's a collaboration with the Tokyo-based Wa Creations, which establishes and operates high-end Japanese restaurants – some Michelin-starred – across Asia.
At Warabi, kappo (“to cut and cook” in Japanese) is interpreted as a nine-course set menu that changes seasonally. The dining room is intimate and interactive, and the setting encourages diners to mingle with one another as well as the chefs, who cook from an open-plan kitchen directly behind the restaurant’s wraparound bar.
Designed by local architect Fady Hachem with artwork by tattoo artist Timothy Dywelska, the space is sleek and minimal. Dark-grey tiled floors and wood accents run throughout, while slate and marble make an appearance in the eight-seat private dining room.
Though the menu particulars fluctuate, in omakase style, you can expect dishes like tamago with uni, saltwater eel, black truffle and wasabi-spiked dashi; green-tea soba noodles with grated karasumi (salted mullet roe); soy-marinated salmon roe and tonburi (a type of edible seed also known as “land caviar”); or decadent Wagyu and foie gras katsu.
Other highlights might be Kagoshima Wagyu or sake-marinated Glacier 51 toothfish (from the Australian Antarctic) grilled over binchotan, a neutral charcoal often used for yakitori. And to end, it might be black-sesame soufflé paired with hojicha ice-cream.
A curated selection of sakes can also accompany your nine-course journey, each served in one-off handmade cups from Japan. The list of sake celebrates the width and breadth of brewing across Japan, and how the climate impacts upon their creation, from the northern region of Hokkaido to Hiroshima down south. A la carte, you’ll find a number of top-tier Japanese beers, wines and whiskies, plus a handful of cocktails.
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