In order to be successful a restaurant needs to have two aspects; a good place (means location) and a good food. Usually, there is only one dominant aspect between the two, but that’s more than enough to create enough hype for a short period of time and figure something out. Washoku Sato doesn’t have any of those.
Located inside Central Park Mall in West Jakarta, right besides one of the hippest bakeries in town, Tous Les Jours. Washoku has to suffer being ignored by hungry bakery lovers and deal with bad lighting and fake sakura (cherry blossom) tree. To make things even worse, Sushi Tei is right one level below the restaurant, creating perfect disguise and even more ignorance from customers.
To be honest, I didn’t realize Washoku exists either, I usually walk right to Starbucks or Tous Les Jours or it’s eternal nemesis, Sushi Tei. Today, I am suddenly feeling awkward force forcing me to turn around and face giant transparent kitchen with chefs hanging out and cutting sushi. My curiosity is taking over me and before I know it, my sister and I are already sitting with giant menu books in our hands.
A little warning, Washoku Sato has a ton of dishes in their menu. From general garden salads to playful sushi with huge chunks of vegetables on top of it to classic green tea ice cream. One thing in common though, everything looks more like western-japanese fusion rather than traditional Japanese dishes. I am extremely confused and end up wasting more time trying to compare one dish to another. My sister, being a quick picker, decides to order their daily promo menu, Salmon Gohan Set (it’s Friday’s menu). I am feeling the need to test their sushi, so I go with Torikaraage Curry Roll.
Washoku is one of the restaurants that are slowly adapting to technology. You don’t need to yell or snap your fingers to call waitresses. You just need to push a button planted on your table and boom! They’ll come running to your aid. It’s quite pleasant having your privacy, while at the same time knowing you don’t have to continuously fighting for one of the waitresses’ attention.
Salmon Gohan Set consists of two dishes; a small bowl of udon with thin slice of tofu drowns in miso broth and salmon donburi. The udon tastes a little sticky and bland, but the miso broth balances it with its rich onion-like flavor. I find it very interesting, but my sister asks me to eat the udon with miso broth and the tofu altogether. I do it and I regret my decision. The tofu, even though very thin, tastes very sweet. I am amazed by how a balanced udon suddenly falls apart because of one thin sweet tofu. Not a good start.
Salmon donburi tastes simpler with no excitement at all. The salmon is perfectly cooked, but the dish looks very sad. Two and a half slices of salmon, very thin, pale, and sit on top of sad rice covered with yellowish tamago. Oh, come on Washoku! You can do better than this. There is nothing wrong with salmon, tamago, and rice combination. However, it will be very good, if the chef tries to put some hidden surprise in it, like a piece of nori maybe, or chopped onions. Any surprise is welcomed to cheer up this half-bored dish.
Torikaraage Curry Roll looks much more fun than Salmon Gokan Set. The concept is to make sushi from curry rice and put fried karaage (chicken) on top of the roll then pours some sour sauces (I suspect pineapple) to add even more flavors. Nice idea, bad execution, horrible balance. If you are a maniac in finding balance and harmony in everything you eat, you will be horrified beyond belief with this particular sushi.
Sushi is a very complicated dish. There is a reason why it comes in small delicate portion, it’s because finding balance in sushi is very hard. You need to have knowledges in how much rice do you need to use in one portion, how big the fish should be, and how fresh all the ingredients are. A friend of mine told me, it takes seven years to completely master sushi. I believe Washoku chefs only take seven minutes online course on how to make sushi. I am sorry, but the curry roll is a disaster.
First, the curry rice tastes very strong, thick and smells like a bunch of medicine leaves, which is normal. After that, the karaage kicks in; I can feel the tenderness of the chicken and the crispiness of the flour (very good, by the way). Out of the blue, the sour sauce covers up my entire tongue and ruin the hardly earned harmony, leaving me flustered with chaotic tongue. Sweet, sour, crispy, tender, spicy, everything blends into one whirlpool of mess. Later on, I inspect my curry roll and find a sad-looking small piece of crabstick in it. Oh, God….
I bravely order dessert because I’ve heard good news from my friends about its green tea ice cream. The good side: they are right. After tasting my Maccha Shiratama, I have to admit Washoku has done a good job in making green tea ice cream. The bitterness of the matcha blends together with the milk. The bad side: there is no harmony in this so-called Shiratama.
Let me back you up a little bit. Maccha Shiratama is a combination of green tea ice cream, 3 pieces of huge plain mochi, sweet read bean paste, and bubbly fresh cream. The green tea is decent, the red bean paste is amazingly sweet (in bad way) and has a strangely rough texture, the fresh cream is sickening with its sweet and bubbly texture, and the mochi is just bland. All of them stand-alone and making no effort in creating a harmony, balance whatsoever at all. Very sad, at least I enjoy the ice cream.
My sister is betting her luck in Zenzai; a warm sweet red bean soup with (again) mochi swimming in it. The red beans textures are nice, a bit rough, but it’s cool. The mochi is still very plain; I guess its duty is to cover up the sweetness of the beans. Talking about sweet, I do not recommend this dessert for those who hate anything sweet. Zenzai is not warm or comforting, it’s sweet. That’s all. After a few scoops, I quickly add more water to no avail. The dish is a killer, even for sweet psychopath like me.
I can’t say I am having a good time eating in Washoku Sato. My lunch is almost a total disaster and there is absolutely no second visit. Not because the food is bad. Nah, I believe they still have something good inside those gigantic menu books. And I did say I enjoy their green tea ice cream very much. It’s because of it’s main competitor; Sushi Tei. Compared to Sushi Tei, Washoku is million miles below. Sushi Tei provides high standard services, authentic (well, something along that line) sushi with similar price. I find it hard to turn into Washoku, when I am standing right in front of Sushi Tei.
I believe Washoku is the exact manifestation of everything’s wrong in today’s Indonesian sushi world. Messy, unbalanced, chaotic, and meaningless. Everyone is busy planting high-tech buttons and fake sakura trees, abandoning the real responsibilities in the kitchen. I think, this is the right time to turn around and go back learning the real professional Japanese sushi. And fuck that Curry Roll!
Central Park Mall
1st Floor No. 118 – 119
Open: 10am – 22pm