Cheap lunches. Wasabi hole in the wall on Alinga Street


I had really high hopes for this one.

Canberra’s local chain of affordable teppanyaki restaurants, Wasabi, have played host to some of my best nights dining out in Canberra and it’s a good rule of thumb that if you can’t have fun with a date over a teppanyaki grill you should be questioning the relationship.

The setup has real potential, street food being dished up right onto the footpath on the corner of Northbourne and Alinga.

wasabi street vending

The food selections set the bells ringing though.

A Japanese restaurant serving up satay chicken? Mongolian lamb?

$8 gets you two dishes on a choice of rice or noodles. I went for the noodles with teriyaki chicken and beef curry.

Curry I hear you say? Well the Japanese got the curry bug via the Royal Navy and today consider it a national dish.

Any food acquired via the English and re-interpreted in north asia is going to fall far from the tree. Basically it’s a slow cooked, very minimally spiced, gelatinous stew.

This beef curry was a pretty good example of the unexciting genre, the chunks of beef were at least fall apart tender and the sinews had converted to gelatin.

Worse though was the Teriyaki Chicken.

It tasted fishy.

I briefly considered if there was some fishy basis to teriyaki sauce I’d been unaware of. But quick correspondence with the “CityNews” Tokyo bureau chief confirmed that the only time one would expect fishy flavours in a teriyaki would be if fish was the meat, e.g. teriyaki salmon.

The noodles didn’t bring much to the party and I ended up throwing a lot of it away uneaten.

Price is right, location is great, concept is fantastic. Execution is letting them down.

[This article is the eighteenth in a series on cheap lunches to be found in and around the city. If you have any suggestions leave them in the comments or email them to . The complete series can be found on our cheap lunches tag]

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