wabi sabi salon smith street collingwood

What happens when you gather two bloggers together on a blind friend date? You get three cameras, two iphones and lots of chat about writing, coding and stats.

But this post isn’t about the first meeting of Miss Kish and Jetsetting Joyce – it’s about the fantastical world of Wabi Sabi Salon. ‘Wabi Sabi‘ is the name of a Japanese  aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. That’s an apt description for the random and quirky design aesthetic for this small Japanese restaurant. Everywhere we turned we wanted to take pictures, from the dangling red lanterns, secluded private dining area to the kitsch and colourful toilets (complete with kabuki opera music and a lifelike poster of tattooed torsos to enhance the toilet-going mood).

Wabi Sabi Salon 94 Smith St Collingwood

The food coming from the tiny back kitchen was authentic, flavoursome and beautifully presented on mismatched Japanese crockery. To start we shared slices of eggpland and zucchini bathed in an unusual sticky sauce (ankake sauce) presented in the mid-section of a scoop-out eggplant ($11). For mains Miss Kish had the Tofu Dango (it sounds like a dance step), a  colourful boat of fried tofu balls, sweet potato, lotus root and veges served in a thick seaweed stock ($23). I devoured a whole tempura flounder ($26) – literally, complete with crunchy fried bones. The flounder was topped with sweet potato, fried lotus root and two dipping sauces – lime mayonnaise and ginger soy – and was one of the most satisfying fish dishes I’ve eaten in a while, on par with the whole fish served at Longrain and Cookie.

Wabi Sabi Salon 94 Smith St Collingwood

wabi sabi salon smith street collingwood

We couldn’t resist dessert so decided to share a home-made green tea cheesecake with black sesame icecream ($12). The fluffy cheesecake was the love child of a sturdy New York baked cheesecake and a girly souffle-like Japanese cheese cake. Black sesame icecream is in my Top 3 ice cream flavours and Wabi Sabi Salon‘s version didn’t disappoint – the icy cool chased down by the roasted sesame aftertaste was particularly delightful.

Wabi Sabi Salon 94 Smith St Collingwood

Finally, Wabi Sabi Salon is participating in Street Smart’s fundraising campaign, which runs from 9 November – 24 December 2009. Street Smart is a homeless charity and since 2003 they have partnered with restaurants to ask diners to make a small donation to Street Smart. Basically, every table is asked to add $2 or more to their bill and 100% of the donations are distributed directly to charity recipients. Find the full list of restaurants participating in 2009 here.

Thanks to Miss Kish for her wonderful photos! If you’d like to read Miss Kish‘s take on Wabi Sabi Salon and see more of her fab photos, click here.

Update 11 January 2010: A new Japanese Day Spa has now opened above Wabi Sabi Salon. Chanoyu is inspired by a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony Room and offers massages, facials and beauty treatments using Pola’s Sakura Veil and Aglaira products. It’s open Monday – Saturday 10a-8pm by appointment only (Anne Nguyen 0432 214 851).

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