CONGRATULATIONS to WABI Soft opening LONDON 2012 – This is only the beginning!

Sergio del Castillo Mora-Pastry Head Chef, Taiji Maruyama
Head Sushi Chef, Paul Kanja
Senior Sous Chef, Mark Morrans
Sous Chef, Scott Hallsworth
Head chef

This is only the beginning and what a beginning it was.

Yesterday the 21st on November 2012 Wabi opened the doors for there first night of there soft opening.

I had the honour and privilege to be one of there first guests and now reporting back about the tremendous success of the premiering opening night.

I have a long history with Nobu and have nothing but Love for many of the chefs that have spent time at this amazing restaurant. For us all, it is an important part in our lives and truly propelled all our careers in one way or another.

Scott Hallworth is a chef that had a big reputation in Nobu and clearly was one of the most talented Nobu Head Chefs in the UK. He was in command of a big brigade achieving the highest levels for Nobu during his leadership.

This is due to his utmost dedication to quality products and a natural flair for excellent cooking techniques and passion.

Yesterday he proved yet again his ability of balancing flavour combination creating every dish very much in tune through skilful balancing and combing of the right ingredients and perfect cooking times.

Scotts has created his unique japanese inspired style and flavours which really came through very clearly yesterday.

Now Scott having gained even more experience since Nobu has much matured which is now the best asset for Wabi and all there future ventures.

Scott has surrounded himself with some of the best people to create a fantastic dynamic from reception, to kitchen and bar, throughout the entire team of Wabi it is very clearly a solid and exiting team.

I am one of the most critical persons when ever I visit any restaurant. Nothing goes unnoticed  and easily offended by lack of attention to details however to my surprise I really found no faults. Besides on a soft opening one should not do so and really see the bigger picture of what is about to come from this talented group of chefs and front of house team. For me the key elements of Wabi london is the team and the food and the experience of the evening is  what I would describe as one of the best openings I have seen.

One would expect delays, confusion and mistakes but there was non whatsoever.

On my arrival I could not have expected a more elegant reception then from  head reception Oliver and and Maria reception manager. Both I meet in Nobu Berkely before and since have evolved into the best reception team that anyone could dream of. For me reception is so important and so often even in 3 michelin restaurants have been so disappointing missing the crucial elements.  Elegance, refinement respect and charm with perfect timing is the recopy for success.  I will give 10 out of 10 for Wabi reception team. (I am not really doing this evaluation as it is a soft opening, but occasionally I mention this in a few places.)

I was then seated in the bar for my guest to still arrive in the midst of and upbeat buzzing, exiting  and anticipative atmosphere amongst the guests across the room.

Rocco Catalano is bar manager for Wabi. He created a really beautiful cocktail list , I had a new fresh and elegant take on a classic Cosmopolitan which key elements were fresh pomegranate juice freshly squeezed to order, a dash of yuzu and raspberry caviar.

Throughout my evening one catches glimpses of stylish cocktails on the neighbouring tables enjoying the many different presentations, all beautiful in there own right. I am not normally a cocktail lover but this is a must for me now when ever I go to Wabi. I want to try them all.

The glassware Rocco chose is elegant and makes the entire experience of the wine or cocktail enjoyment much more sublime.

Overall the entire beverage side of Wabi is composed to its finest and most refined. I would give a deserving 10 out of 10 for the bar offer that Rocco created for Wabi.

The menu Scott designed is brilliant because instead of giving you a big bible of dishes to ponder through, he very rightly kept the struckture simple and user friendly.

The dish selections and structure is just perfect. All the descriptions are easy to follow. Well deserved 10 out of 10.

I ordered several items and did not mind about sequence order, I wanted to be easy as it was the very first opening night.

I am convinced I had the best waiter  of that night called Junior, who was dedicated to our every need. I am very sensitive and critical to the craft of service and have to say that is is rare to find waiters that know what you need without asking for it.

My glass was just empty he was already there to fill. The entire evening it seemed he was only looking after us.

This deserves a  dignified and refined 10 out of 10.

I normally I dont like Pinot Grigio that much however this was perfect for our beginning of the meal. The wine was light and had a very elegant and delicate character but yet refreshing and young  with very unique taste to it with it which left us debating to what it actually is. I really like when a wine does this as this means it is interacting with my imaginations.

Our first dish was Pork Scratchings with a pickled wasabi dip.

Now normally any pork scratching would send me running however this pork scratching is the best you will ever have! It came with a magic little towel to wipe your hands after but trust me you will not need it as these scratchings are completely not greasy at all. In fact they are so light if you attached a ripon to them you could float them just like a balloon, so airy and light forget rivita.

Another thing I really appreciated was the idea of a pickled wasabi dip which was absolutely a match made to perfection 10 out of 10.

Following dish was Lamb Chops tea smoked with smoky Nasu (aubergine) and a korean spicy sauce.

Very delicious and tasty, the aubergine was sweet and tangy with a smokey hint, the dip was not spicy at al, just right for pure enjoyment. I believe this will be a successful and very popular dish.

I have to apologise for the next picture because at this stage it was hard to take a picture before eating. As soon as the next dish arrived I just went for it.   It was Shetland Squid with scorched cauliflower and yellow chilli dressing.

I love squid and this is the kind of dish I need to eat at least once a week.  The texture of the squid was so soft and all the flavours and mushrooms together on your palet are just scrumptiously moreisch as well.

Beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic chips. This was my least favourite dish of the evening because even though the pleasure of texture is there you completely loose the beef. It is overpowered by the perfectly crispy garlic chips and the onion relish , the spring onion and the onion ponzu sauce. However it looked beautiful and I am sure this is going to be a favourite to have at Wabi. It is purely because every chef creates differently looking for specific things and this does not mean something is bad at all it is just my feeling. Also if I give everything a 10 out of 10 then you probably will not believe me how great this restaurant really is.

The next dish was squid with yellow chilli dip, Very crispy, tasty and no oil in sight. Perfect with my wine. 

At this point we could not resist to see what else Rocco had selected for the Wabi’s wine list.

We were recommended by Junior to try the Sauvignon Blanc which was beautifully elegant again with delicate perfumes of beach blossom and more complex in aromas then the Pinot Grigio from before.

Konbu roasted Chillian sea-bas buttery soft with a chilly ponzu and some pickled Daikon. We also had the sea-bas with truffle yuzu butter however we lost ourselves again and forgot to take a picture. That dish was lovely as the truffel was only a hint the butter so light and perfectly balanced with all the other elements in the dish.

Diver scallops with yuzu truffel egg sauce. The scallops perfectly sweet and the combination of all the ingredients on the palet is X rated..pure sensuality and perfect for all the gluttonist within you.

Foie Grass with sweet and sour soy, nashi pear, Rice and sesame sembe (cracker) and ume shu plum wine yelly with a dash of ginger.

The nashi pear were cut in perfect squares soaking up all the flavours of the foie and the sauces like a sponge and when biting into it, it released all these flavours into your mouth bursting, this together with he delicate foie gras was pure pleasure.

I should have said: “make mine a double” this is really devine, make sure you order one each do not share this.

Sushi with Maru-san:

This night I really could not eat all the dishes that I need to still try and I must go back to taste them all when I am not so exited.

Maru-san is a talented young chef with ability to stretch any traditional japanese training into imaginative new concepts. I normally just like to go and visit the sushi counter and enjoy an omakase by Maru-san. I highly recommend you do that on your visit to Wabi.

I will write a separate article in more detail about Maru-sans omakase very soon inorder to show more about his work in more detail.

On this occasion I wanted to try some of Maru-san’s creative nigiri’s.

We had Razor clam placed in the apple chips, yellowtail, wagyu beef, King crab, Abalone and yorkshire beef filet

After the wonderful sushi we had a very unique plum wine and unfortunately I dont know the name. I will find out. Wabi only have one plum wine so you can not miss it. It is very refined not sweet wonderfully fruity and so enjoyable. I appreciate the quality and the flavour of things, it really matters how people produce things to and you really taste pure goodness with this plume wine – the perfect pleasure drink.

We then moved to the dessert bar. I love dessert bars in japan there are a few. If chefs posses skills it is a crime to keep them in a separate kitchen!

Sergio has been working tirelessly on creating this pastry section for Wabi since September.

When a restaurant opens chefs will work split shifts sleeping only up to 4-6 hours a night and all day relentlessly perfect there craft without having any day off for up to 21 days plus. This is a profession that commands such discipline and focus as well as tremendous strength. I always am aware of the tremendous effort that is made by chefs on a daily basis to bring pleasures like this to our tables.

We were whole heartedly welcomed by Sergio and his lovely and dedicated team. Our first dish was a pallet refresher:

Coconut and Lemongrass sorbet with poached lemongrass stem.

I recommend you dont use a spoon, but instead use the poached lemongrass stem for extra flavour sensations released by the stem in combination of the sorbet.


Chestnut Dorayaki with vanilla and salted caramel icecream

This was delicious to and very japanese. Sergio made his interpretation of the classic and much loved dessert with chestnut instead of red bean. Sergio even got a stamp from japan to brand the Dorayaki’s

Zen Garden:

Matcha and avocado oil sponge, raspberry and beetroot spherification Yuzu cream, pine nut crunch and sesame sugar

This is so beautiful and all the flavours and textures were pure delight, for me the beetroot is what really transcends this dish, very cleverly grounding all the elements giving you sensations of sweet and fruity earthiness.

Pine nut crunch was already devoured before I could get to it but was assured it was crunchy and delicious.

The moistness of the matcha and avocado oil sponge was perfection.

This is a work of art and more so texture and flavour are at the foreground of this dish.

Chocol-8 which is eight different textures of chocolate

A perfect piece of art, I dont want to describe everything to much as you need to experience this for yourself!

A beautiful selection of perfect small flavour delights that are heavenly.

We want to thank the entire Wabi team for our delightful and special experience.  We feel extremely honoured to be the very first of customers, which is an experience that was infectious and filled us with happiness and special memories.

I really want to point out that this is the very first time Wabi opened there doors and my photography can not really do the dishes justice.  I normally never review any restaurant and I am not a writer, I am a chef myself however when people work this hard to make your evening so incredible serving you nothing but the best with the very best of intentions from the hart, it was the least I could do to try my best to applaud the success of this venture through my little article on my humble blog. It is one of the best and smoothest openings I have encountered and everyone at Wabi team needs to be congratulated for this. This is only the beginning!

A special thank you to  John and Delroy my dearest  and truest friends in life for always being the best company possible. They were so brilliant helping me to define and enjoy every single detail, taking fabulous pictures of the entire evening and never growing weary of my chefy analytical mind.

We wish Wabi all the best for the future and want to say congratulations and thank you for your hard work.