Monday, November 07, 2011

Wabi Sabi Salon II

October 31, 2011
Back from our weekend away, Cindy and I decided to try to use our long weekend to sample a new lunch place - we had The Social Studio and their four kinds of vegetarian burgers in mind. Unfortunately, they'd had the same idea as us and had used Melbourne Cup day to manufacture a long weekend for themselves.

We kept wandering along Smith, eventually settling on one of the few places that would serve us lunch at 2:50 - Wabi Sabi Salon. I've professed my enthusiasm for their vegie bento box before and I didn't even explore the rest of the menu. Prices have gone up significantly in the past year and a bit - the vegetarian bento box has gone from $11 to $15. Still, it's a pretty decent combo: rice, pickles, a vegie dish, a salad and a random hot main.

Oh, and a miso soup to start things off.

A nice warming start to the meal, with a few pieces of tofu and seaweed in a rich broth.

The main of choice on Monday was potato croquettes: four little fried potato triangles with golden crispy shells, a few smears of a sweetish sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top. The broccoli (although sparse) came with a tasty miso sauce, while the seasoning on the rice turned a plain accompaniment into its own little highlight. This was a decent lunch, but probably not quite worth the price.

Cindy looked beyond the box option, ordering the tofu and vegetable ankake donburi ($15).

There were lots of fresh vegetables, some delicious cubes of tofu and rice. Everything was perfectly cooked, but the sauce lacked a bit of pizzazz - it was just a bit plain. Still, a fair bit healthier than four chunks of crispy fried potato.

We were happy to find a place open and willing to serve us lunch on an afternoon when most of Melbourne was taking a long weekend. We walked out fairly contented with our lunch, but at $15 a meal, we were probably paying a little more than what the food we got was worth. The service was friendly and efficient, and the setting is as charming as ever, but the food wasn't quite as good as I remembered it. I'll give them another shot, but with more moderate expectations in future.

Since we first visited, Wabi Sabi has had mostly positive reviews, although there have been a few reservations: I'm so Hungreee, Ballroom Blintz (veg review!), Miss Adriennely, Multicultural Melbourne and E. T. & C thinks.


Wabi Sabi Salon
94 Smith Street, Collingwood
9417 6119
Veg lunch: $14 - $15

Accessibility: There's a flat entryway and a somewhat crowded table arrangement with a wide path through the middle. Ordering and payment takes place at the table, and we didn't make our way to the toilets.


  1. I used to love the vegie bento, but have hardly been there at all since prices went up - you're right, it happened quickly! Looks like there's less in the box now too.

  2. Bit of a shame about the prices, but I think that's pretty much the going rate for Japanese food all over for anything even a little bit classy. Cool place with a good Japanese vibe - not that I would know anything about authenticity when it comes to such. I used to have lunch there often after my PBS show - when I still had a PBS show!

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Jesska & Kenny! It's a surprisingly rapid price hike, but still not completely outlandish. We think the quality's still there. :-)