Last night half a dozen of us had dinner at Wafu to celebrate a sixtieth birthday. Wafu is an establishment with policy. Evidently, Yukako – the owner, chef and entire wait staff – found that as her restaurant became popular some years ago she was appalled to realise she was becoming part of the great system of waste that prevails in the West. She decided to lay out some requirements. The restaurant is now open only to members and their guests, and there’s a sign near the front door asking visitors NOT to enquire how to become members. The Art Student (who insists that one newspaper article doesn’t mean she has to give up that title) and I, guests of a member, arrived before the rest of our group. Yukako welcomed us and gave us a sheet outlining the policies. Here they are, from the website:

To contribute towards creating a sustainable future we request a little more of our guests than most other restaurants. Please bear in mind the following points.

Please imagine people who live on the other side of the earth – every 6 seconds, one child under the age of 5 dies because they have no food”
Be mindful of the amount of food you order – try to order just the right amount, in harmony with your appetite. When eating with company, please consider sharing meals, family-style, as you would at home. We request that any dishes ordered be finished, as far as possible.

“Please imagine wild animals”
If purchasing takeaway meals, please remember to bring your own containers. Sturdy, long-lived containers are the best. Failure to do so will result in a surcharge, and possible refusal of service.
We advocate respect for food, waste prevention and doing what is best for the environment. Help us to do what we can to shape our future!

“Please re-think”we can do more preventative things before resorting to the 3Rs
(Reuse, reduce & recycle)

Eat-in Policy
First, read our policies and mission statement on our front door or on our website. If you agree to our terms (namely, not wasting food and sharing meals as if you would at home) we will gladly welcome you to Wafu.
Please note that vegetables and salad on the side are NOT decorations; they are part of the meal too. Finishing your meal requires that everything is eaten except lemon slices, gari (sushi ginger) and wasabi.
If you think you might have trouble finishing your meal, order a little less or tell us in advance so that we might put less rice on your plate, for example. As an extra precaution, you could also bring a sturdy reusable container.
“We hope you always keep a suitable container in your bag”

Takeaway Policy
Takeaway orders are available. Please allow extra time for large orders. It is best to pr-order your takeaway meal via SMS. Please be clear in what you want to order and make sure you bring a sufficient amount of containers or plates (bring extra if you are unsure).
Please bring your own reusable storage containers or plates.
However, please ensure that the containers or plates have been well washed and dried – unclean containers will cause food to go off.

When using your own storage containers for takeaway food, we will give you a 30% discount and stamp your Wafu card towards the reward of a $20 voucher to be used for anything in the store!
Trying to order takeaway without your own containers or plates may also result in refusal of service. We advocate respect for food, waste prevention and doing what is best for the environment. Help us to do what we can to shape our future!

What this version doesn’t include is the threat of expulsion if a diner doesn’t clean up everything on her or his plate. Last night, I ate every grain of brown rice, every curl of spring onioon, every drop of sauce. When two of us ordered the salmon hotpot, Yukako recommended that they order one between them, and it turned out she was right .

At the end of the evening, I’m pleased to report, the Art Student and I were given membership cards.

Oh, and the gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, egg-free, vegan friendly food was excellent, though I’ll skip the chocolate soy mousse dessert next time.

9 responses to “Wafu

  1. Oh my, this is ripe for snide hippy-parody!

    I shall refrain. On this this blog.


  2. Next time you come to Sydney, let me take you there as my guest. You’ll see that it’s beyond parody! I haven’t managed to convey the completely disarming combination of scary authoritarianism and exuberant good will.


  3. You are on-skis.

    So far it all reminds me of a Family Guy cartoon: “It’s about fun! And we all know that fun means obeying all the rules!


  4. You’ve pretty much got it!


  5. Isn’t this “policy” just what show-biz folk would call the restaurant’s schtick? And I love the “membership” policy and cards, which appear custom-designed for inner city dwellers who, in their heart of hearts, just know that they are different from (maybe even un peu superieur to) the hoi polloi. 😉


  6. shawjonathan

    Absolutely, Stephen. I gather, though, that Yukako was really going to close down a couple of years ago. It was someone else who saw the marketing potential of this kind of stern eccentricity.


  7. Thank God – your original post was so deadpan that I thought you were being serious!


  8. I went to wacky Wafu last night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to try the food. The proprietor ignored us for some undisclosed offence we had committed. When our friend, the registered member, tried to ask the owner what was wrong, she kept on saying “You don’t understand”. Mad as a cut snake. My guess would be obsessive compulsive disorder. Good choice of restaurant for a Basil Fawlty/Seinfeld Soup Nazi experience.


    • Heh! So much for the theory that all the requirements are a clever marketing ploy – unless of course it’s a ploy meant to snare the irredeemably abject.


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