Iwa drew us in with its dark-coloured, contemporary fancy decor, which made it stand out from the random stores featured on the Victoria Avenue mall strip, but it was the all-you-can-eat buffet for $36.80 caught us hook, line and sinker.
It took us a while to figure out what we wanted. We had an hour and a half to eat as much delicious meat as we possibly can, where the last order for meat and other dishes was an hour into our session. So we had to be smart and efficient with our ordering to maximise eating time without over ordering (though we did kind of get a word of caution from our waitress that we were over ordering haha).
The seaweed salad wasn’t quite what we expected. Lynda thought that perhaps they had given us the Lettuce with Home-made Miso Dip by mistake because she couldn’t see any seaweed in it, but upon ordering it again, we got exactly the same thing. We found the seaweed, after picking through the salad, and it was undeniably not what Lynda was thinking of when she ordered it (she was thinking of that stringy seaweed salad with sesame seeds). Despite that, I quite like what tasted like soy jelly sitting on top of the mound of lettuce.
Edamame is one of those foods that once you start snacking on you can’t seem to stop. There’s something about having to bite the salty pods to get to the juicy peas inside, which eventually would pop into your mouth most satisfyingly (or if you’re especially coordinated like me, have it end up on the table). I found these edamame quite tasty, but not as juicy as those I’ve had eaten.
It was interesting to see the difference between the Japanese and Korean pickles. David found the Japanese pickles to have such a subtle flavour that it almost was not there. He much more preferred the stronger flavours from the assorted kimchee and promptly ordered a second dish when it was finished.
While I thought the tempura was pretty average, both Lynda and David thought it was the best tasting tempura they have had. They explained that nearly all of the time the tempura would have too much batter on it, rendering it kind of flour-y but this tempura had quite a light coating of batter.
Lynda is a dumpling fanatic – this girl loves her dumplings. While we all agreed we’ve had better gyoza elsewhere, as we found the pastry a bit too thick, Lynda ordered another plate after we were stuffed and done from the meat. She pretty much had the whole plate to herself. Hectic.
I got quite excited when the meat came out and impatiently waited for them to cook on the grill. I found the cuts were quite nice, tender and juicy, though David thought there was missing something – that extra oomph that would take it from tasting good to mouth-wateringly good. “I’m full, but not quite satisfied,” he added.
When I first had green tea ice cream I was a bit weirded out, but I’ve grown to love the taste and nowadays, I find myself relishing the flavour melting on my tongue. This ice cream was creamier than most I’ve had, which I loved, and scored myself a second helping when Lynda declined to have hers as she doesn’t really like creamy things. Nom nom nom.
I quite like how the vent is extendible, sucking up all the smokiness from the grill with efficiency. I can’t help but compare Iwa to Suminoya. The vents there were weak at best and by the end of our session, our clothes smelt like barbecue meat (which I didn’t mind but made me constantly hungry afterwards) and our eyes were stinging from the smoke.
There’s a button attached to the table to call for service, which we found to be rather handy and we never did have to wait for long to be attended by a waitress. The wait staff, in conjunction with the call button, were terribly attentive and efficient. The food came out relatively quickly as well, which was a blessing as we were famished. While we did enjoy ourselves at Iwa, we somehow found it just a bit lacking. Despite that, I’d like to come back to try their a la carte menu – it looks really promising.
380 Victoria Ave
Chatswood NSW 2067
Ph: (02) 9419 7009