Last week I went on a little foodie adventure at Waraji Japanese restaurant, via an event organized by Triangle Foodie Adventures. TFA is a food blog. Additonally, they also run these fun foodie events, in cooperation with local chefs and restaurants that they deem worthy of promoting. In the process, people like you and I, get to try out a place we might not have otherwise tried.
Now I've only been to one of their events thus far, but looking at their online event schedule, I'm plenty familar with those restaurants and can attest that they are top notch.
Mainly, TFA seek to help and promote local businesses by organizing foodie events at those establishments. At the same time, they bring a fun dining experience to patrons who might otherwise have simply gone with "the usual". Whether that be the usal choice of restaurant they've always gone to, or "the usual" dish they've always ordered. Change is good and there's no better way to experience new dishes and new restaurants than via one of these events.
In general at an event such as this, patrons get to sample many more dishes than they ordinarily would, and at a much a lower cost too. Tickets for this event were just under $45.
Now I wasn't a stranger to Waraji, although it had been a few years since I had eaten there. I kind of forgot about it. May seem odd, but with so many new restaurants opening in recent years, seemingly weekly, in the Triangle, it's easy to forget and get distracted by something shiny and new.
It was a great experience to be reminded that Waraji has long been a favorite of many local Japanese food lovers. Specifically, Waraji is known for their high quality fish. It's in the taste and texture. As my dining buddy to my right announced, "the sushi is like butter". I agree. There was nothing tough, chewy or fishy-tasting, about any of the dishes we had.
Let me take you through the entire 6-course foodie adventure.
Upon arrival I checked in with Tessa, the organizer. I got seated at a long table that was set up just for us 20 or so, hungry and eager foodie adventurers. You might think it's awkward to sit with a bunch of strangers, but everyone makes an effort to introduce themselves and get to know each other a little bit, and then the the 1st course arrives....
1st course: Mixed Sunomono Salad
This was like fireworks to open the "show" with. Fish was outstanding and the delicate light flavor of the rice wine vinegar dressing was refreshing. This dish was actually quite large although it might not look it in this photo. However, it was deep and bountiful. My fellow diners and I were wondering aloud, how were we going to eat 5 more courses after this?!?! We managed. ;)
2nd course: Deep Fried Squid Legs
In a word, delicious.
3rd course: Pork Kushikatsu
2 for each person. Even I only managed to eat 1, and I can eat! Meat was nice and slightly juicy and the panko breading was light as expected and plenty crispy. The dipping sauce was great too.
Chef & owner of Waraji, Masa Tsujimura, spoke to us for a bit about what we've already eaten and what is still coming up.
4th course: Masa Egg Roll (Chef Masa's Signature Sushi Roll)
Tempura white fish, tempura eel and green onion wrapped in a thin layer of omletized egg.
The sweet and sour spicy dipping sauce is the chef's secret recipe, and it went really well with this roll.
5th course: Sake Kama (Grilled Miso Marinated Salmon Cheek)
Distictive deep flavor. It was on the intense side. Not something I would order regularly, but I enjoyed introducing my palette to a new flavor.
6th course: Nigri Sushi
Remeber that "like butter" comment I mentioned ealier? This is what brought it on. I agree 100%.
Green Tea Ice Cream
This is the 1st time I've ever been wowed by green tea ice cream. It's always been just ordinary to me. However, this had a noticeable light sweetness to it and was super creamy. Perfection.
At the end of the "adventure", organizer Tessa and Chef Masa spent some time asking us how we liked everything and thanked us for coming.
I was pretty thankful myself, frankly. It was one of the best Mondays I've had in a while. I tried many things in one night, not only were there plenty of courses, they were delicious and well sized. Nobody went home hungry.
Stuffed to the gills! I can't help but be corny about it. It was a fishtastic event! Stop me now! Or don't. I'm doing swimmingly! Aren't I? Aghhhh!!! Sayōnara!