Colourful lights dancing off the nostalgic stained glasses, reflecting onto the white wall. Interior in the style of retro Shōwa period. Have a glance upwards and notice that even the roof is nailed down to the details. Located on an artistic street, a popular restaurant that can only be found in Melbourne – Wabi Sabi Salon.
There is a porch to the rear of this restaurant. Try enjoying your meal while looking down from the second floor like a king overlooking the town from his castle. Situated on Smith Street in Collingwood, Wabi Sabi Salon's interior concepts match the street atmosphere perfectly.
Not only does the restaurant provide delicious meals, it also emphasises on the provision of thoughtful services as well as the environment and atmosphere in which the customers dine in. The sophisticated interior design along with creative dishes can only be found in Wabi Sabi Salon. Moreover, it puts in a lot of effort in making sure that customers can enjoy their meals in a casual and informal atmosphere.
Mr Eisei Morita
Chef Eisei spent his childhood in Mexico and came to Melbourne for the first time for high school. He then studied at a university in Japan and returned to Melbourne afterwards. After his experience working as a waiter in creative restaurants and bars, he is now active as a chef. He followed other people's advice in becoming a chef since he likes cooking to begin with.
"I think that by working in Wabi Sabi Salon as a whole instead of just in the kitchen has built on my experience as a chef and as a waiter."
When he returned to Melbourne for postgraduate study, Eisei saw Wabi Sabi Salon's recruitment ad for part-time staff and decided to join in. He then became in charge of Wabi Sabi Salon when Wabi Sabi Garden was established.
Chef Eisei tries to be flexible in his ideas and dares himself to not hold any stereotypical thoughts. Although he would like to provide genuine Japanese food in Melbourne, it is quite difficult to achieve so. To solve this problem, Eisei thought about other possible ways of making and eating food. He believes that his ability to switch to an alternate way of thinking is one of his personal attributes. He wants to be forward looking by using the basics of Japanese cuisines and adopting other approaches to making them.
Chef Eisei thinks that a restaurant is not just about "eating" but is also about creating an atmosphere and providing good services. He strongly believes that keeping the staff happy is one way to achieve this. He passes on the message that no matter if you are on working holiday or just a part-time staff, as long as you work in Wabi Sabi Salon, you have to be motivated and be considerate of the restaurant, making food out of love and bearing in mind the importance of your services.
Today Wabi Sabi Salon prepared three dishes that match Kirin Megumi. Chef Eisei is confident in any of these three recommendations; these dishes are only available in Wabi Sabi Salon. Kirin Megumi's refreshing taste is popular amongst Wabi Sabi Salon's customers as well as chef Eisei himself, who prefers the refreshing taste of Kirin Megumi as opposed to other strong tasting beer.
Although it is already very tasty eating the sashimi with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger, Wabi Sabi Salon offers another approach to eating sashimi. The Hiramasa is sliced into thin pieces and the more fatty parts are scorched slightly. It is then served with basil and ponzu (Japanese citrus sauce) dressing with some flavour adding garlic chips sprinkled around.
First the bones are removed. Then the chicken wings are deep fried after stuffing in minced pork, spring onion and shichimi (seven spices) fillings. They are then served with an original dipping made with honey and soy sauce. This is a particularly popular dish. Contrary to its appearance, it tastes very refreshing.
This dish used to be in the form of stew made with cubed meat. However, chef Eisei thought "is there a more interesting way of making this?" and created this new dish. The meat is stewed for a long period of time with orange and ginger. The pieces of meat are then served with vegetables that have been stir fried with mustard teriyaki sauce.
Chef Eisei asks the customers directly for feedbacks when he goes out into the dining area. He thinks that it is enjoyable concentrating on the restaurant as a whole and working hard for it. He wishes to convey this message to other staff members and hopes that they feel motivated working in Wabi Sabi Salon. He believes that such matter is linked not only to the restaurant's atmosphere but also to the services provided and the dishes made. He feels that this message has been passed onto the customers as well hence why more and more people are visiting Wabi Sabi Salon.
There really is a huge variety of Japanese cuisines. In Australia, however, Japanese food seems to be limited to "sushi, tempura, sashimi, etc". Wabi Sabi Salon always try to suggest a different way of eating. The restaurant considers this as a form of positive betrayal to the customers, and would like to provide a variety of dishes using new materials.
"I want to provide dishes that are only available at Wabi Sabi Salon. I would like the customers to visit our restaurant because they think the atmosphere is suitable for dining and the services provided are warm. I think it would be great if customers can casually enjoy the meals provided by Wabi Sabi Salon."
Wabi Sabi Salon
94 Smith Street, Collingwood VIC 3066
TEL: 03 9417 6119
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat Lunch 12:00pm-3:00pm, Dinner – 6:00pm – 11:00pm
>> Editor's Note
During the photo shoot, all I could think of was "I want to eat this as soon as possible!!!" because of the aroma floating about. I think that in order to take a delicious looking picture, I have to firstly think that the food is delicious. I would be very happy if someone looks at my photos and goes "Ah I want to try this!"
Thank you to Kirin Megumi's brand manager Mr. Fukushima for your assistance, and Mr. Nishigaki for coming to the photo shoot & interview with me.