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« 50+ Healthy Winter Squash Recipes via Jeanette's Healthy Living | Main | Ridgefield Chef Swap: Bernard Boisseau & Jeff Taibe »
Sunday
Sep232012

WAFU Asian Bistro Opens in Southport

If you Google or Bing the word "Wafu" it translates to "Japanese-style," but when I asked Elaine Chen, the proprietor of the new WAFU Asian Bistro in Southport, her definition was "peace and harmony." The new Wafu, located at 3671 Post Road (formerly Friendly's) seems to be a little bit of both. Chen, from the FUJIAN PROVINCE of China, and her husband (the restaurant's lead sushi chef), have created an ASIAN establishment where Japanese, Chinese and Thai food mesh perfectly in a serene and sophisticated environment. Although it's difficult to tell from the exterior, the decor once inside is New York chic (and perhaps a tiny bit over the top with Swarovski Chandeliers and neon-blue lighting). Menus are presented on ipads and you sit comfortably at your glossy tables on your white-leathered booth. Sure, it's a bit shi shi, but shi shi works at WAFU. The food is good for a "multi-culture" menu, the decor is funky and, though it looks fancy, it turns out to be a very kid-friendly establishment.

To start, we ordered the BEEF NEGIMAKI. This NEGIMAKI was, as tradition would have it, broiled strips of beef marinated in teriyaki sauce and wrapped around scallion strips. The beef was tender and well seasoned and the crunch of the cool scallion created the perfect contrast. We also tried the GYOZA, of the crispy variety, filled with classic ground pork and vegetables. The other appetizer sampled was SHUMAI which were, although not spectacular, would certainly be a tasty choice for kids and those not ready to be adventuresome. 

There were some intriguing main menu items that we simply couldn't miss. One was the ASIAN PIZZA. Here, a homemade savory pancake, or okonomi, meaning "what you want," was topped with blue-fin tuna, salmon, yellow tail, avocado, mango, and jalapeno. Basically, this was a large sushi roll where the ingredients were spread out in pie form. And although it wasn't foldable, this was almost MOO-SHOO SUSHI! With the pancake as the base, the fish took on a a more prominent role yet it was so fresh, the flavors remained delicate. Another dish we had to sample was the ANGEL TEARS ROLL. Here, tuna and spicy king crab were sprinkled with jalapeno flakes and topped with ANGEL TEARS - real gold flake pearls. A tangy, sweet, ginger-wasabi sauce was drizzled on top for added color and affect yet this roll was surprisingly bland. 

Some excellent Thai favorites were also for the sampling so sample we did. The THAI COCONUT CURRY CHICKEN was tasty. Tender strips of moist chicken were tossed with fresh sugar snaps, onion and green and red peppers and all were bathed in a light coconut/curry broth. Though I am used to a thicker, creamier sauce, the thinness of WAFU's broth allowed the chicken's own delicate taste to rise above the curry. Again, the flavors here were not over-powering, making this another perfect dish for kids and those who might be Asian-Cuisine wary.

The PAD THAI was also interesting as, although all the most traditional ingredients were present, the base RICE NOODLES were replaced with SOBA NOODLES. These Japanese noodles made from BUCKWHEAT have a distinct, slightly sweet flavor and this added an unusual twist to the PAD THAI norm.

The chefs at WAFU do a great job exploring a wide variety of ASIAN cuisines, trying to marry favorites from one region with flavors from another. They succeed. This is the perfect place to introduce ASIAN food to your kids. Flavors are mild and slightly sweet and the atmosphere is definitely "cool."

There is a SUSHI BAR and also Hibachi, yet not prepared at the table. Kids will love it. But so will adults on date night. The seating here has been carefully thought out so that, although the restaurant seats 90, there is definitely an intimate feel. WAFU - "peace and harmony, Japanese style" - it works.

WAFU Asian Bistro - 3671 Post Road in Southport (formerly the Friendly's location!)

Monday-Thursday 11:30am-10:00pm

Friday-Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm

Sunday 12:00noon-10:00pm

Wa Fu Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Reader Comments (12)

Please Please....can someone from JAPAN open a Japanese restaurant in CT?

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersushifan

I'd give my right arm for a decent bowl of Ramen out here. Chefs...you listening?

September 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterStephanie Webster

Did you mean Swarovski chandeliers? This place is a bit over the top- if you like Long Island strip mall chic. We ate there last week and give it an OK rating. Beware some of the sushi rolls. We had to send back a few that were sub par. We were victims of the typical trick many sushi bars use on unsuspecting patrons- use less than perfectly fresh fish and mask with "spicy/crunchy" flavors, etc. They comped us some drinks, and rolled out the freshest specimens after that, so we'll forgive them. Head sushi chef claims Nobu lineage. Love the Ipad menus.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Iseman

This reviewer should have sat at the the sushi bar. The real hidden jewel at Wafu is the Sushi Bar. Here is my review I sent out to friends after eating at the Sushi Bar at Wafu?

If you can ignore the "Long Island Strip Mall" design aesthetic, we really liked the iPad menus and sitting at the Sushi Bar under the skilled hands of head Sushi Chef Simon (I believe that's his name).

Unlike most humble NYC Chefs (I have been eating Sushi for 30 years), Chef Simon is quite self assured and gregarious. So his charm quickly wins us over and I "trust" him to go off the menu (fearing a hideously large bill but trusting he wants repeat sushi patrons). If you go there, have the head Chef personally make your Sushi/Sashimi.

First Appetizer: King Salmon sashimi in a delicious sauce with some heat and beautiful garnish. I cannot describe the confluence of about 7 different ingredients and various garnishes that surrounded this delicious fresh King Salmon. Rating A+.

Main Course: OK, here our story takes a bit of a turn. I had a moment of distrust and ordered my standard salmon with avocado and yellowtail with scallion inside out rolls. I see them prepare from those small bits and pieces of remaining sushi that are tossed aside in the sushi case. One bite and I yell out check please! Rating: C-. All of a sudden the owner Elaine and Chef Simon (I later find out they are married) descend on us and plead for one more chance and I can't help but trust again in Chef Simon as he explains he was trained at Nobu in NYC and other top NYC Sushi haunts. A complimentary glass of wine appears for my wife and we settle back in.

Main "Re"course: Simon makes me a hand roll of king salmon and avocado plus a hand roll of the freshest hamachi (yellowtail) and scallions. Night and day. Fresher than fresh. Only complaint is the nori (seaweed used to wrap the sushi) is a bit chewy making it difficult to bite through as you approached the end of the roll. He throws in a fresh sashimi sampler of bonita with ponzu sauce. OK, this is very Nobu. This guy Simon is the real deal. Rating: A.

Post "Re"Course: OK Simon, clearly you have sushi "chops", what is your favorite dish, I ask? Without hesitation he replies: white tuna with truffle oil. You had me at truffle oil, I say. Bring it on. So he makes some white tuna sashimi, drizzles some magical white sauce on top and out comes the blow torch. After a light searing, he adds a healthy drizzle of truffle oil and again several other magical sauces and garnishes. Simply melt in your mouth amazing. Rating A+++

Now for the bill: Much lower than expected as I truly believe they want to appeal to true sushi lovers. There are few good sushi places of this quality nearby. Yes, we were probably "comped" a bit but hat same meal at Nobu Next Door in NYC would be significantly higher and not been much better.

Also, please remember some of the best food and lunch is available on Thursdays at the Westport Farmer's Market. Boxcar Catina from Greenwich, amazing Skinny Pines pizza and local celebrity chefs appear weekly. It is on Imperial Avenue (inside during the winter). Very high quality food all locally sourced. Please support our local farmers.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim

Those don't look like any soba noodles I've ever seen: they look like plain old ramen noodles. I'm pretty sure buckwheat always has a grey tinge to it. We could really use good, authentic Asian in this area - this seems like a very awkward fit.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTravels4Food

Those noodles were most definitely SOBA. Check it out :)

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah green

So two commenters confirm that if you're an average joe, you get served subpar sushi, but if you call them on it, they bring out the good stuff. Why would anyone want to eat there? (To say nothing of the hideous decor.)

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanyll

Matsu Sushi and Sakura in Westport have decent sushi at reasonable prices...

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTWJ

I concur re: Sakura, and you'll never have a problem with chewy nori there - it's always crisp and crepe-paper thin. Does Sakura get overlooked because it's been a community mainstay for so long (since 1983)? I think that speaks volumes.

I would be very reluctant to go someplace where I had to prove I knew what I was eating in order to be fed well - I can get enough of that attitude in NYC.

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTravels4Food

Fusion can be good and fuson can be bad.
What fuson can never be is authentic.

There are so many fusion places that I want to paint with an inappropriately broad brush, and they do have this in common. Thjey all taste like no place on earth. It's like when I was a kid and started making "soup" with whatever
mom had in the fridge....Vegetables, hot dogs, whatever. It may taste good (not), but it isn't authentic to anything or anywhere.

And now as an adult, I do find that kind of disturbing. And gloppily, sickeningly sweet.

If you MUST subject youself to a fusion cuisine, Try Chings Table. Nowhere near as good as when it first opened, Chings manages nonetheless to crank out food from nowhere that tastes like at least there ought to be such a place! Even if, at the end of the day, it's all a spin on a Chinese menu (think Saigon Grill NYC).

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrealguy

Nice post by "realguy" - though I have yet to eat at Ching's Table. Though Vong really nailed the Asian-Fusion formula in the city.

I drive by this place every day and must admit to having been scared off by the awful/garish look of the place (like some neon-drenched Airstream), but will give it a shot at some point.

The food seems sort of like Asiana Cafe in Greenwich, no?

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Grimm

Hey guys. Wanna get real? Food costs are KILLING the dining out (and in) experience.

I want to go back to the 1970' and order prime rib au jus with a heart-clogging side potatoes and spinach.

NOBODY makes that around here. What we need is a really expensive totally tricked out "diner" where they cook American style comfort food in a manner reminiscent of the good old days. The LAmb on Saturdays at the
Sherwood is really good but it's one of their only great things.

I can't take all this soy sauce and glop...bad for the gout:)

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrealguy

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