Tradition meets innovation at W Melbourne's omakase diner, now under the expert guidance of Head Chef Hajime Horiguchi.
David Allegretti
November 27, 2023


W Melbourne's omakase offering, Warabi, has entered a new era. The appointment of Chef Hajime Horiguchi, who arrives after an extensive three-year search, signals a strong future for what is already one of Melbourne's best omakase experiences.

Hailing from Kyoto, Horiguchi brings a decorated resume from top-tier Japanese restaurants across Australia and Asia, including Ascott Thonglor Bangkok Hotel and Melbourne's own Minamishima.

Horiguchi's vision for Warabi revolves around a fusion of Melbourne's intense seasons with traditional Japanese culinary arts. His philosophy? Fresh, local produce meets time-honoured Japanese techniques.

Warabi - omakase in W Melbourne Hotel.

"Since returning from Bangkok and having access to the breadth of offerings Australia has at its doorstep, my passion for both honouring and amplifying the local landscape has never been stronger," says Horiguchi.

This philosophy manifests in a dynamic menu, changing at the whim of Horiguchi to reflect the freshest market finds and the narrative of the current season. Signature dishes, like the K'Gari Spanner Crab with tosazu, kanimiso and caviar as well as the signature unagi sushi, are part of the $285 omakase experience.

The drink pairings, curated by venue manager Stephen Zappelli and head sommelier Mike Rapajic, offer an intriguing range. Options include a non-alcoholic cocktail pairing at $88 per person and sake and wine pairings starting from $120. One standout mocktail, 'Stolen Skins', embodies a zero-waste ethos, using citrus skins from the kitchen and echoing the flavours of the sashimi courses.

Warabi - omakase in W Melbourne Hotel.

Dining at Warabi isn't just about the food. Horiguchi envisions a multisensory journey, collaborating with W Melbourne's Music Curator, Rachel Phillips, to craft an inviting sonic ambience. This holistic approach to dining helped secure Warabi's recent two hats in the 2023 and 2024 Good Food Guide awards and its 'Deluxe Restaurant of the Year' win at the 2023 Victorian Accommodation Awards for Excellence.

The team under Horiguchi, including sous chefs Brendan Liew and Takuro Abe, brings a wealth of global experience, adding layers of depth and skill to the Warabi dining experience. With Liew, from the three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin, and Abe, formerly of Melbourne's Koko, you're in good hands.

With Hajime Horiguchi leading the charge, dining at Warabi is not just a meal; it's a celebration of Melbourne's seasonal bounty through the lens of Japanese culinary mastery. 

Warabi - omakase in W Melbourne Hotel.


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