An inner-Sydney chef with notoriously strict rules about who could eat at her restaurant has drawn criticism from an American blogger in the hospitality industry. Surry Hills Japanese restaurant Wafu is closing, with the owner Yukako Ichikawa lambasting Sydney diners on her website, saying they were greedy and inconsiderate. The restaurant serving “guilt-free Japanese cuisine” has been described as Sydney’s most exclusive restaurant because only members, which include those who attend an “orientation”, can make reservations.
But American blogger Penelope Tsaldaris, of ServeMeWell, has weighed into the debate saying Ichikawa’s obsessions “run contrary to everything, I’ve ever been taught or practiced in our trade or even the practice of rudimentary politeness”.
Yukako wrote on her website: “First, many potential customers, and even some members, have entered Wafu without doggie containers. I could not accept such inconsiderate people. The refusal of this most simple, basic request shows that Wafu’s ways are not respected. Intolerable. Further, I found it distressing when, after eating, with obvious self-satisfaction, people said, ‘SO FULL!’.
“Perhaps this was meant as a compliment, but to me it meant that the utterer had deliberately damaged their body by wasting food through over-eating. It meant also that the utterer did not understand Wafu’s ways, and had not bothered to make the effort or take time to find out what these are. Wafu is viable, as a business, if I continue to accept inconsiderate, greedy people. But I couldn’t do it. Wafu has always been, and will remain, more to me than simply just another business.”
And so on. But the fussy Sydney chef may have met her match.
“Her views drip with customer loathing or she’s just a smart ass, vying for publicity,” Penelope told Taste for Travel. The audience for her blog is American chefs and workers in the hospitality industry. “Customer satisfaction is what drives business through the door, and remains the highest priority to survival. Even if you serve still water, serve it well,” she says.
Of Yukako, Penelope says: “I guess she didn’t get the memo about our trade being referred to as the hospitality industry. Without question, the guest is the goose who lays the golden egg. They feed us, after we feed them.” But Penelope also gives Sydney diners a serve for putting up with being scolded.
“What intrigues me more, is what pathetic, moronic nincompoops would allow themselves to be treated in such a manner when paying for a meal, or even sign up for an orientation? At night when she cashes out the register, she must be laughing her head off at all the very shallow people who allow themselves to be degraded with her emotional ass-whipping.”
The sign outside Wafu has a list of the rules which include: Wait to be given permission before you sit down; sit up straight and relax; share meals; rest chopsticks after moving food into your mouth and while chewing; never play with the table settings; never speak loudly on your phone; never waste any food. Apparently Wafu’s doors will remain open to members, or anyone willing to bring their own doggy bags, while the restaurant is up for sale. Wafu’s food is described as: gluten and wheat free, egg free, no refined sugar, organic, with vegan and vegetarian options.