Just over a year ago I waxed lyrical about Wasabi in Constantia, and all its seaweed-related charms… and since then I have been going there, on and off, to satisfy any sudden cravings as and when they occur.
But my last visit, a week or two ago, left a sour taste in my mouth – literally and metaphorically – and it’s likely that I won’t be back for a while.
My friend and I were hellishly hungry, and very definitely in the mood for a bit of sushi, so we ordered a small plate of California rolls (R26) as a starter. So far so good – it’s not superb sushi, but it goes down well, and we enjoyed it.
The trouble came with the main course. Noodles. Noodles that I’ve had there a number of times, and loved, but which (this time) didn’t remotely resemble their forbears, and which tasted nothing at all like they were supposed to.
Seafood ramen noodles… in a “green curry broth sauce with coconut milk” and beef thai noodles in “red curry sauce with ginger, lemon grass and lime”. Well, you pay a fair whack for both items (R78 and R74 respectively), and portions were generous, but I’m damned if I could taste either green curry or coconut milk in my seafood broth.
What it tasted like, in fact, was (very very salty) minestrone (blech!) – not something that generally (in my opinion) goes well with seafood. Nor did it have a single one of the advertised mussels in it (I did some exploratory digging) – instead it was packed with the budget option: mushy crabsticks (I don’t mind a few, but when they’re in the majority – again, blech!).
We ended up sharing the thai noodles, which were at least palatable, though also not of their former excellent standard, and the seafood ramen was left pretty much untouched.
Now, I know that all restaurants have their bad days, and it’s quite possible that there was an accident in the kitchen (like tipping half a jar of salt/MSG into the bowl, for instance) – I’m not quite so unforgiving (believe it or not) as that – but the way the manager handled the situation was, frankly, appalling.
Denial. It’s always made exactly the same way, he said. The recipe is exactly the same. It can’t possibly be any different (you must be lying). And, in any case, silly me, I should have chosen the Thai noodles, they’re always much better (and the others are crap?). Say what?
So, basically, he’s a) insulting my tastebuds, b) telling me I should have known better and ordered something else and c) saying that I’m clearly making it all up, because the recipe is as it always has been (and nothing could possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong).
Who’s with me in guessing that this man has never cooked his own food? Ever.
Had they charged us for the dish, I would have been livid, and this would have been far more of a rant than it already is. But, to be fair, they did not, and I was marginally mollified by that. Not mollified enough, however, to want to go back in a hurry.
So, new sources of craving-quenching seaweed shall have to be found forthwith… suggestions, anyone?
Wasabi is in Constantia Village, in the ‘old village’ section. Visit their website for a look at their menus, virtual tours and more. Tel: 021 794 6546. I’ve had some great meals there, but for the time being I’d suggest avoiding their seafood ramen noodles!