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Wafu chef: 'Yes, I'm rude'

People need more communication skills and should learn how to eat properly, says Yukako Ichikawa, chef of the notoriously strict Wafu restaurant.

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It's not just financial reasons behind the latest Sydney restaurant closure, but "inconsiderate, greedy" diners, "intolerable" customers and "fast-food junkies".

News that Surry Hills restaurant Wafu is soon closing its doors swept the city's food scene yesterday, after chef Yukako Ichikawa gave a scathing review of some of Sydney's wasteful diners.

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 

Ichikawa's restaurant has a notorious set of rules to cut food waste, with customers expected to eat everything on their plate and bring their own containers for leftovers and takeaway orders.

The sign outside Wafu, telling diners what's expected of them.
The sign outside Wafu, telling diners what's expected of them. Photo: Stephanie Gardiner

The Japanese eatery is often described as Sydney's most exclusive restaurant because only members, which include those who attend an "orientation", can make bookings.

But in an announcement posted online, Ichikawa said Wafu would close in the coming months partly because not enough diners were willing to abide by her policies.

"First, many potential customers, and even some members, have entered Wafu without doggie containers," she wrote on the Wafu website.

Angry outburst ... Yukako Ichikawa is closing her Surry Hills restaurant, Wafu.
Angry outburst ... Yukako Ichikawa is closing her Surry Hills restaurant, Wafu. Photo: Marco Del Grande

"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."

Ichikawa also wrote that the "ongoing global economic crises" played a part in her decision, as well as "the disheartening effect of seeing people walking whilst cramming fast-food in jaws that cannot even chew".

The chef said Wafu's doors would remain open to members, or anyone willing to bring their own containers, while the restaurant is up for sale.

She said Wafu would be "re-structured" and a new, smaller Wafu may be set up at some point.

Ichikawa, dubbed "iron chef" by the Herald in 2010, made the strict policies that year after nearly shutting shop because wasteful eaters made her "sick of people".

She also granted a 30 per cent discount to customers who ate all the food they ordered, with the exception of garnishes like lemon slices, sushi ginger and wasabi.

Wafu is the latest Sydney eatery to announce its closure, with many notable restaurants closing or going into administration.

The Berowra Waters Inn, Ad Lib, Bilson's, Cotton Duck, Montpellier Public House, Bird Cow Fish, and Tabou have all closed, while chef Justin North restaurant group, including Becasse, under voluntary administration.