WTGW 1/8/14: Wasabi House, Fairlawn

I know, I know – first Italian, now Japanese? We’re really branching out. And we were really tired of sports bars.

Wasabi House was Ted’s pick, and he has been certain about it for pretty much a full month now, having seen the sign one day while on business in the Fairlawn area and realizing it was actually a place he had never been. As we’ve already explained, these places are hard to come by, so naturally it caught his attention. Plus I think he discovered the one type of food that is pretty much assured to not have any trace of his arch nemesis, cheese. Well played, Ted.

Wasabi House has three options for dining on any given night: hibachi, regular dining room, and small private rooms that can accommodate parties of 2-6 or so in a traditional Japanese setting (i.e. you leave your shoes at the door and sit on the floor). We opted for the regular ole boring dining area – partially because it was our first time there, but also because there was a pretty decent wait for the hibachi side and we were ravishingly hungry. Enough said.

Plus that just gives us even more of a reason to come back. Does it count as a new place to try on a WTGW if we pick a different seating option?

Now I’ll be honest and say that three of the four of us really have very little experience with traditional Japanese cuisine. You’d think that one odd one would be me, having lived in the AsiaTown area of Cleveland for about five years … but sadly that’s not the case. Maybe I should blame it on “YOLO” not being as wildly popular during those years of my life as it is now.

Actually, in all honesty, the main reason I seemed to shy away from Japanese food is ironically the one thing that usually draws people to it.

Sushi.

The only experience I ever had tasting sushi was about eight years ago, when a friend and I hit up a post-work happy hour at the Ritz Carlton, and they were giving it out for free. As in, thanks for ordering your Captain and Coke, please pick three sushi rolls to accompany it. Odd, for sure. Maybe they were just trying to class us up a little. Whatever. In any case, let’s just say that I did at least try it, and was not impressed.

(Now, every time I tell that story someone always replies that maybe the word “free” should be an indication of the quality … but come on, now. It was the Ritz. You’d think even the free stuff would be good, right? I think I’ve managed to prove that theory wrong.)

So I blame the Ritz as the reason why even Wednesday I was reluctant to try a piece of the spicy crab rolls that Shane ordered for an appetizer. Shane had never tried sushi before – and I may regret pushing him to order this, as I think he’s found a new obsession. Watch out pizza – you may have a challenger for top place on his favorite food list. Although I’m not positive it was the actual roll he liked so much, or the soy/wasabi sauce mixture that Ted coached him through concocting and he used as a dip for the sushi. Either way, Shane was definitely not disappointed. I actually tried one piece, and was pleasantly surprised. The ban on sushi is hereby lifted. Horray!

Chopstick master Shane

Chopstick master Shane

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, Ted was our group’s Japanese food connoisseur, who put his menu down long before we did and probably had the least trouble interpreting the waitress’ heavy accent. Ted ordered a sampling of rolls, including the golden dragon, which caused us all to stare in true “wtf” fashion when it was brought to the table. And also what Ted tried to kill Shane with when he “forgot” about Shane’s shrimp allergy and tried to get him to try it. Nice try, Ted.

Ted's selections. Fancy.

Ted’s selections. Fancy.

Amanda and Shane both ordered teriyaki steak, and I tried the soba, which was delicious. Our meals also included miso soup and salad, the latter of which had an amazing dressing. We think it may have been ginger based, but honestly were too busy eating it to really care what it was made of.

Oodles of noodles

Oodles of noodles

Ted also went the traditional route with drinks, ordering some sort of Japanese beer. I had a drink called The Geisha, which was one of those fruity concoctions that you could suck down 20 of because they taste like there is no liquor whatsoever included. Yum. Meanwhile Amanda and Shane tested out the Miller Lite to make sure they hadn’t altered it in some Japanese way – which I’m pleased to report they did not. Ha.

Since we were done with dinner by about 8:00, and this wasn’t exactly the type of place that begs you to stay and covet your inner alcoholic, on our way home we made a stop at On The Rocks in the Merriman Valley for a few post-dinner drinks. Shane, Amanda and I had been to OTR one other time, pre-blog, after our second WTGW (the disappointing wing night at Domenics). We’re still trying to figure this place out. Last time I think there were about three other people in the place besides us and the bartender’s boyfriend; this time there was some sort of presentation going on in the back portion that involved a speaker and a slideshow of sorts. Because the bar is the best place for this type of educational assistance, definitely. But they had McKenzie’s cider on tap, which pretty much ensured that Amanda and I were staying even if said educational seminar was a mix of subliminal messages trying to get us to sign over our homes and bank accounts and become missionaries in impoverished areas of the world.

Again, enough said.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Ted
Drink options:  Wide variety of traditional Japanese beers and sake, as well as a full bar that us Americans are used to choosing from.
Food:  This place changed my mind on sushi. Enough said.
Service: Good – although as with any truly ethnic restaurant, be prepared to listen attentively or you may order something you’re not expecting. I appreciated that she corrected my order so I ended up with the right thing.
Overall: Between the other dining experience we have yet to try and Shane’s newfound love of sushi and all things wasabi, I have a feeling we’ll be back.

Next Pick: Shane

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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