REVIEW: Wabi, Horsham - delivering more than just amazing food

Amazing food at Wabi.
Amazing food at Wabi.

From the outside it’s an unassuming building.

Yet it has always been in the public spotlight.



In a previous existence it had been a pub and not always a welcome part of the Horsham town centre scene.

A year ago, it made the headlines again when it was ravaged by fire.

But today, Wabi in East Street is transformed.

It has never been in better shape.

Despite its modest facade, it’s one of the most noted Japanese restaurants and cocktail lounges outside London.

And it delivers more than just amazing food.

It’s ambitions are as much theatrical as they are gourmet.

Within the building, the contemporary design makes a striking contrast.



A wall of water and a subtle mix of natural stone and wood instantly create an ambiance at one with nature.

It’s intended to put you are your ease.

To relax you.

To sweep you away from its market town setting to somewhere far more exotic.

The food delivers on every dimension.

The presentation combines minimalist simplicity with a dash of extravagant theatre.

With some dishes, dry ice exudes across the table like a Merlinesque mist.

The hand towels sprinkled with droplets of water grow before the diners’ very eyes.

And cocktails like a Pornstar Martini encapsulate burning vodka in hollowed-out boats of passion-fruit floating in a tiny sea of fruit - with a glass of bubbles to accompany.

Such diversions whet the appetite, heighten the senses, and turn a special occasion into an occasion that is forever special.

But the skill is not merely visual.

Head chef Lubomir Kovar - known as Lubo - and his team of highly skilled chefs, is an amazing craftsman of food. Young and dynamic, his small kitchen can create a dinner menu for you.

So those who think Wabi is all about sushi and raw fish could not be more mistaken - even though they are served spectacularly well.

The delicacies range from prawn dumplings (£8.75), to miso roasted black cod (£17).

The tea smoked lamb chops (£14.50) melt in the proverbial mouth, while the beef fillet tatami (£12.50) is simply divine.

Is it expensive?

Well lunches are superb value and can come in at about £9 - although you can spend more.

In the evenings, it is all about the experience. It’s about sitting down with friends and going through a six or eight course meal - and will be as expensive as the number of dishes you choose to order and share.

We were served by Kristina at the table while Danilo performed his own piece of theatre mixing the cocktails. The were overseen by the marvellously engaging and attentive Pedro, who writes articles for this newspaper but did not have a hand in drafting this one.

With 2AA Rosettes it is located over two floors including a beautiful Japanese water garden for dining during warmer months.

The first floor is where you’ll find the main dining room and romantic private dining pods. They vary in size for two people up to six. For larger dining parties there is the Tatami room; which can seat up to 14 people.

Wabi is designed for people who love the best Japanese food.

But if you’ve never tried it before, don’t worry. There’s something to suit every taste - and we went with our son and his mate who wouldn’t normally sample anything more daring than pizza.

They genuinely loved it.

The friend said it was the best restaurant meal and experience he had ever had - and he’s already asked his parents if they can celebrate his 18th birthday there!

The old building in East Street may look almost unchanged from the exterior - but step inside and it has never had more to offer.

Not only have the staff transformed the building - they are transforming the reputation of Horsham, and all for the better.