Wasabi On Broadway
Neighbourhood: West Broadway
Address: 588 Broadway Avenue
The first face that greets you upon entering the heritage home of Wasabi on Broadway, is that of master Cho Venevongsa, or one of his disciples, working fastidiously behind the sushi bar. This firsthand friendly sets up every visit and has undoubtedly contributed to Wasabi’s wild success.
Competition is stiff for Japanese restaurants in the city, with new opens vying for the attention of your chopsticks. Each Wasabi location delivers in a different setting. The original location, on Broadway, has hit on a clever cache of serving new-style sashimi in a historic setting. Though sizeable, the two-level dining room feels intimate. The first floor features a wood-burning fireplace and segmented alcove for intimate tête-à-têtes, with cool modern accents and textured walls. Upstairs, find traditional tataki seating away from the din below.
For the last 14 years, Venevongsa has been wowing locals and visiting VIP’s with his artful presentations and array of the most exotic seafood in the city. For years, whispers of Hollywood heavyweights have followed this celebrity hot-spot, which is no small feat in a city of this size. Even now, returning patrons go in hopes of rubbing elbows with the best and brightest.
The menu at all three locations features signature dishes, like mounds of prawn and mango slathered in a tangy chili cream sauce, served over greens and delicately carved ribbons of carrots in a wonton bowl. It evokes a Pavlovian response.
Japanese food emerged as a result of a waterborne lifestyle, is essential to its excellence. Despite geography, Wasabi ingredients are stellar. Fresh fish is flown in regularly, making raw options, including silky tuna carpaccio, stunning ceviche or shiso yuzu butterfish, stand outs. Superior products are best showcased with bursting flavour profiles, which Wasabi understands. Many touch upon the delicate balance of both sweet and heat, like the chili lime sauce on the Mahalo Roll, or the citrus yuzu served with a mound of oysters over crushed ice.
With its longevity, Wasabi has proven it is more than a flash in the pan. Instead, it thrives in an industry that demands no less than best, and delivers authentic Asian buzz.