SPONSORED: FACT’s Hayley Alexander visits Al Barsha’s best kept homegrown dining secret…
WAWA is a trendy JAKO (Japanese + Korean) find tucked away amidst the bustling streets of Al Barsha, but once you clap eyes on the hanging lanterns, wooden handwritten signage and the burst of colours – you’ve well and truly arrived. It’s an izakaya spot which by definition offers a casual yet comfy hangout to eat, drink and socialise. WAWA is perfect for kicking off the weekend or enjoying after-work dinner and drinks.
WAWA roughly translates as “whoa”, a Japanese phrase that would be used when stumbling across an eye-opening experience, and yes, we agree that the name is well suited. We walk through the draping material that hangs from floor to ceiling, marking the entrance and giving us all the speakeasy feels.
This cosy fifty seater restaurant is abuzz with music, chatter and plates of sizzling food from the kitchen. Jin, the General Manager, greets us at the door and asks us the million-dollar question, ‘where would you like to sit?’ Excited to be in the heart of the restaurant, we feel like children in a candy shop – in awe of the cherry blossoms, the many ornaments and knick-knacks, and the hanging lanterns covered in Japanese writing – and are curious as to what some of the décor reads.
Jin gives us her recommendations, swiftly followed by a sake (this is an Izakaya after all). For starters, we thoroughly enjoyed the crispy calamari (AED 58) and deep-fried soft tofu (AED 58). The portions sizes were very generous and although it wasn’t easy, we tried not to overindulge and ensure we left space for the remaining dishes.
Our main courses fly out of the kitchen about thirty minutes later. We are presented with a beautiful shoyu ramen (AED 68) with a rich and robust broth and plump Osaka beef gyoza (AED 68). Whilst our waiter carefully presents the food on the table, we can’t help but sit up because of the enticing aromas emanating from the piping hot dishes. Both plates were easily a solid ten out of ten, with the ingredients fresh and cooked to perfection and accentuated by carefully curated fine dining style presentation. We’d strongly suggest you come to WAWA hungry!
With an expansive menu of Japanese and Korean favourites, diners can also tuck into maki rolls, mala hot pot noodles, wok stir-fried quinoa, miso black cod, Korean miso hot pot – and many more. We were happy with our choices, but it was honestly hard to decide.
WAWA is licensed and offers an impressive selection of sake, hops, grape and WAWA signature cocktails at very reasonable prices. We thoroughly enjoyed our WAWA Whiskey Sour (AED 60 AED) with umeshu, rice vinegar and grapefruits, and the WAWA Martini (AED 60), a beguiling blend of sake, triple sec and tropical passion fruit.
This FACT Dining Awards nominee is designed to give diners the feel of a lively izakaya in the heart of Al Barsha. With very reasonable prices and a high standard of service. WAWA is ideal for small groups to socialise over excellent food and drinks, and there’s even a private dining room for this in search of extra privacy.
For a personal dining experience anchored around fresh ingredients, flavoursome plates and alluring décor – look no further. WAWA presents memorable meals that will leave you wanting to book time and again.