Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner at Wa

I'd heard glorious things about the toro sushi at Wa.  I'd also heard that it was unbelievably hard to find (the restaurant, not the toro, although both are true).  I'd also become acquainted with the wife of the man who owns Wa. 

Let me just tell you that this place is a gem.  It is an insane journey to find, tucked away behind the backstage area of Universal Studios in a basically vacant office complex, but the thrill of the chase is worth it after just the amuse.  Here, have some photos, will you?  They're not great, but you'll get the jist.

It's traditional to be served a small plate before your dinner (an amuse bouche, or "to please the mouth" en Francais) in traditional Japanese restaurants, so this was no surprise.  A tempura-fried crawfish tail with aioli and scallions was light and prompted the slightest salivation.  That's what an amuse  is supposed to do.

To take the edge off, I went ultra-girly and ordered a lychee-tini.  Redolent with fruit, sweet and tropical, I could have one of these with every meal.  So I had three.  Also, Wa's happy hour is fantastic - with every drink, you get a plate of edamame.  Perfect bar food.

I have to admit, it took me a while to decide.  The menu isn't long, necessarily, but everything looked so intriguing (and many dishes had words that I, now being humbled, wasn't familiar with!).  The fusion of French, American and Japanese cuisines was no more apparent than in this dish - crab-stuffed salmon paupiette.  Creamy, dreamy snow crab wrapped in an Alaskan sockeye salmon filet doused with sesame/soy glaze - it was a heavenly dish.  Really.  I'm getting all weepy.

I ordered another "small plate" from the menu so I could make the most of my experience and taste as much as possible.  This unilaterally seared snapper was crispy and buttery and drizzled with whole-grain mustard sauce and bok choy.  Oh, so amazing.  The saucier at Wa, whoever he/she is, is hitting it on the mark.  All of the sauces I tasted were perfectly seasoned and added just the right amount of acid to accent the freshness of the ingredients.

Let me tell you a little bit about toro.  It's a specific part of a bluefin tuna that's SO rare and SO perishable, it's almost impossible to find.  But Wa has it.  It's on the bottom row on the left.  It's unbelievably soft, fatty, buttery, it's just drop-dead delicious.  When you order it, for the love of Bejeezus, don't drench it in soy sauce.  Just eat it as is.  If I could compare it to something, it's like eating an avocado.  You know how when you eat an avocado it kind of coats your mouth with fat and you can taste everything you eat just a little better because of it?  That's what toro does.  Oh man.  That peice of sushi was well worth $7.

By the time dessert came around, I was already too enraptured to remember to take a picture.  The custard with kombucha squash was a little dish of joyfulness.  I may make it in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I'd love to see an omakase tasting menu added to the repertoire at Wa.  Along with a decent wine list that features all the standards and a list of sake not to be sniffed at, Wa is a welcome addition to Orlando's restaurant list.

Wa Restaurant - 5911 Turkey Lake Rd. # 102 • Orlando, FL 32819  - Phone: (407)226-0234

No comments: