When food lovers in Galway tell you that Yoshimi Hayakawa, of Wa Café, has been working various stages with various Galway restaurants, it comes as no surprise. Ms Hayakawa is a seeker, and it’s no surprise that, having mastered the mellifluous arts of Japanese cooking, she should then turn her quest towards the techniques of the European culture.
But what is truly exciting will be discovering exactly how Ms Hayakawa puts those different ideas and influences into her work in Wa, where the cooking is a pure, lovely and very personal form of classic Japanese food. The room is small, simple and intimate, and immediately captivating – you step in the door out of Galway’s Docklands and you are immediately in Toyota city – and the clean, limber food further enhances the fact that any meal here is a cultural and well as culinary experience. Ms Hayakawa’s sushi sets should not be missed, for she manages to reveal the disciplined simplicity of this great food. But there are also bento boxes, noodles, ramen, sashimi and osozai – small tapas-like dishes such as kimpira or pork katsu – and excellent miso. The food achieves the ethos and ambition of Japanese cooking in its subtle harmony: you eat at Wa Café and not only do you feel better, but the world feels like a better place, too.
One final tip: don’t miss the wild dessert that is the Japanese Snickers bar – miso ice cream; caramel and chocolate sauce; black sesame and peanut crumb. It’s the work of Ms Hayakawa’s protege, Paddy Phillips – and it’s a crazy, beautiful thing. No wonder it fits so well into Wa Café, a tiny, crazy beautiful place.
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