Yayoi Sydney launched early this month, bringing a new style of dining to Sydney. The Japanese restaurant is the first Australian venture outside of Asia by one of Japan’s largest food service operators, Plenus Co Ltd.
Located on the corner of Bridge and Loftus Streets, the 80 seat restaurant occupies the former site of Wagamama. The fitout is kept Japanese minimalist with blonde timbers and black chair accents, vertical lines, floor to ceiling windows, and a wall featuring Japanese ceramics.
Yayoi brings teishoku style of dining to Sydney, which is Japanese home-cooked style set meals that include rice, miso soup, a main dish of meat or fish, and a side dish of vegetables or Japanese pickles. You won’t find sushi, sashimi or tempura but a set of delightful dishes that tempt the eye and the palate.
The experience begins when the waitress explains the menu and hand out an iPad with which to place the food and drink order. Teishoku dishes come with rice and in the evening, it is cooked at the table in a special rice cooker. It takes twenty minutes to steam the rice and when it’s ready, a message pops up on the iPad. This tempts you to order off the Ippin menu which offers smaller, entrée sized plates.
The Asari Sakamushi ($11), or Littleneck clams steamed in Japanese sake are difficult to resist and make a good choice when ordering teikoshu meals which are rather substantial. The clams have a clean fresh flavour, salty delicately salted, with a soft texture.
Yayoi offers a range of imported Japanese beers such as ocean Kujyukuri Pale Ale and Pilsner, and Asahi Super Dry on tap. A good range of sake is available by the glass or small bottle, as well as shochu and umeshu.
Service is fast and no sooner you tap on the iPad than the drinks arrive. When the rice is cooked, the Teishoku dishes are served. Everything is timed to precision.
Wagyu Sukiyaki Teishoku
The meal is aesthetically presented on a large tray with ceramic bowls. Wagyu Sukiyaki Teishoku ($33) is made up of miso soup, wagyu beef hotpot, a slow-cooked egg in which to dip the meat or pour on top, boiled spinach and mushrooms dressed in sesame sauce and Japanese mustard leaf pickles.
The miso soup has a clean flavour with carrot, shallots, enoki mushrooms and nori. The wagyu beef hotpot is generously portioned and has tofu, mushrooms, Asian greens, Udon noodles and Shirataki noodles, which are made from konjac starch. The meat is tender and full of flavour and the silky noodles have absorbed some of the delicious broth.
Wagyu Beef Hotpot
The rice is ‘kinme’, a polished rice that retains the nutrition found in brown rice while retaining the taste of white rice. It’s glossy, dense and sticky, with a good texture and packs a lot of flavour.
Spinach and Mushrooms
Picking from each dish is part of the enjoyment of dining Teishoku style, mixing the hot with the cold, the sweet with the savoury and umami flavours.
The Miso Pork Fillet Katsu Teishoku ($28) has pork fillet cutlets topped with a slow-cooked egg, Chikuzen Stew and the same miso soup, steamed rice and Japanese mustard leaf pickles.
Miso Pork Fillet Katsu Teishoku
Four crumbed and tender pork pieces sit in a tasty miso sauce that is a combination of various miso pastes, a little sweet and sour with a touch of heat.
Miso Pork Fillet
The slow-cooked egg comes on top of the pork which you break to coat the meat. The accompanying Chikuzen Stew contains a mix of root vegetables, lotus root and a range of mushrooms.
Should you have room for dessert, the Matcha Ice Cream ($9) is light and cleansing to the palate while the Kanmi Santen Mori ($10.50) offers a trio of fruit, a green tea “crème caramel” with warabi mochi, gelatinous cubes of bracken starch jelly dusted with green tea.
Matcha Ice Cream
Both options are light and not overly sweet. For a sweet tooth, there’s the Banana Chocolate Crepe ($18) with green tea ice cream.
Kanmi Santen Mori
Teishoku meals are simply delicious and filling so it pays to come hungry. The range of set meals is varied and the Ippin menu is worth a look, if not to order on the next visit. On a weeknight, the ambience is relaxed and serene with a group of Japanese men in suits occupying tables and a mix of couples and solo diners, which is good to see in restaurants. But it’s early days. Once word is out, the place can expected to be buzzing with diners getting their fix of Japanese home cooking style meals.
Below is a photo gallery of the launch event held on Wednesday 4 June 2014.
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
Yayoi is featured in our guide to Sydney’s Best Japanese Restaurants.
28 Bridge St
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