A couple of my friends go to SushiWaka quite a bit and have said to me numerous times that I need to try it, but I've always ended up going somewhere else instead. I gave my sister a choice between Mexican, Japanese and Thai food, so when she picked the one I was sure she would I knew I didn't have an excuse to put off my visit any longer.
You'll find SushiWaka just down the road from The Grand Theatre, so it's nice and central and easy to get to. It is definitely one of those places that you don't judge from the outside, as the building seems quite plain and nowhere near as fancy as some of the restaurants in the area. However, inside is clean, there's great little details on the table, you can see into the kitchen and - most importantly - the food is amazing.
While we were still perusing the menu, we ordered lychee bubble tea. I was a bit nervous about this as the restaurant only serves bubble tea with tapioca pearls, which I have yet to like in any form. I tend to choose teas with the exploding juice-filled balls so I don't have to deal with the tapioca but as I love lychee tea, I thought I'd be brave.
This was the perfect way to start our meal as the tea was lovely and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness. It was served with some lychees actually in the glass to add another element - we had these for our pudding - and I actually really liked the tapioca balls. In fact, I'd go so far as saying that this little glass of bubble tea has actually managed to convert me, although I'll need to try a few more versions to confirm that fact.
I went into the restaurant knowing that I wanted to try one of the bowls of ramen on the menu, as I'd been told that these are fantastic. There were a fair few to choose from, even if you're a vegetarian or a pescetarian, but I ordered the spicy miso mixed seafood ramen as everything about it sounded amazing.
My sister chose the pork katsu curry, although it took a while for her to make her choice as she - like me - wanted everything on the menu. We asked for everything just to be brought when it was ready as it takes me so long to eat and I didn't want my sister having to wait around for her next course. Everything was ready in literally ten minutes, with the Takoyaki being served first and then our mains coming just a few minutes later, which s really impressive as we could see everything was cooked to order.
Don't order this and expect the batter to be crispy, as it isn't at all. It's actually wonderfully soft and flavourful while also being quite light. The sauce and bonito helped to cut through the batter and stop the dish tasting to floury, while the octopus was also really lovely and soft.
I couldn't finish all of my Takoyaki before my main arrived and came back to them after eating some of my ramen, but they tasted just as good cold as they did hot. Even with so much on the menu at Sushiwaka, I would order this every time and have actually dreamed about it, which is always a good sign.
As well as wonderfully soft noodles and perfectly cooked vegetables - including bamboo shoots - my ramen came with some of the biggest green-lipped mussels I've ever seen, scallops, king prawns and a seafood stick-like slice, as well as half of a hard-boiled egg. All of the seafood was cooked to perfection so it was all juicy and succulent, with the individual flavours coming through really nicely.
The broth itself was also really delicious and I would be happy just drinking it without anything else added. It had a nice warming kick that wasn't too strong so didn't overpower the delicate seafood, while the flavour of the miso was still able to come through, giving it a really flavourful base. I actually felt sad when I got full because everything was so wonderfully tasty, I wanted to eat it all.
Not only was the rice is cooked perfectly, her pork was lovely and soft on the inside but the coating was perfectly crispy. The icing on top was the thick katsu sauce that had just the right amount of heat and plenty of flavour. Needless to say, she was very happy and also very full.
In total, our meal cost just over £30, which is incredibly reasonable for two courses and drinks for two people. The service was fantastic and friendly, all the food was fresh, hot, tasty and well cooked and the atmosphere of the restaurant, even though we went during a quiet period was really lovely.
If you haven't been to SushiWaka yet, don't be like me and put off your visit, especially if you're a big fan of Japanese food. You definitely won't be disappointed.