It’s a collaboration with the Tokyo-based Wa Creations – which establishes and operates high-end Japanese restaurants, some Michelin-starred – across Asia.
But this is its first venture outside the continent. “We wanted to bring the traditional Japanese kappo philosophy to Melbourne, but with a different type of energy,” says Wa Creations founder Luke Clayton. “We felt that W Melbourne brings that perfect mix.”
At Warabi, kappo (“to cut and cook” in Japanese) is interpreted as a $245 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. “[It’s] a space for bigger groups to get together in a more intimate setting,” says Clayton, “while offering a more stripped-back version of the theatrical counter experience.”
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: 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. “Our list of sake celebrates the width and breadth of brewing across Japan, and how the climate impacts upon their creation,” says Clayton. “From the pure, cool climate in the northern region of Hokkaido, to the abundance of clean, soft water in Hiroshima down south, and all the regions in between.”
A la carte, find a number of top-tier Japanese beers, wines and whiskies, plus a handful of cocktails like the Warabi Martini, with Sakaki XIX gin, preserved sake, Tete Japanese botanical liqueur and candied fresh pepperberry leaves.
408 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
(03) 9113 8800
Tue to Sat 5.30pm–10pm