Since opening in June 2014, Yayoi has enjoyed settling into the Sydney dining scene and with new head chef Nori Nakagawa (ex Azuma) coming on board soon, they have introduced two degustation menus, Kayaba and Yozakura.
Kayaba Menu Matched with Sake
Kayaba ($80 pp) consist of 10 dishes while Yozakura ($65) is a subset of that menu with 6 courses including a choice of dessert. An optional $20 provides you with accompanying wine or sake and comes highly recommended.
Zensai Santen Mori
The meal starts with Zensai Santen Mori, a trio of assorted appetisers accompanied by a glass of Hardy’s sparkling wine.
Chickuzen-ni is a dish from northern Kyushu and consists of braised chicken, lotus root, carrot, pea pod and water chestnut.
To-fu and Yuba Citrus Taste with Eel
The Tofu and Yuba with eel has a good balance of texture and flavour. The eel is light and clean in flavour and the tofu is silky in finish. Yuba is the skin that is collected and dried from boiling soy milk and is very delicate in texture.
Fluffy and well-seasoned, the Rolled Omelette is accompanied by grated daikon.
Gyu Tataki Salad
The ponzu gelee makes the Gyu Tataki Salad an absolute pleasure by providing sharpness to the dish. The beef is lightly seared, tender and the salad sings with the addition of the sesame and miso paste, a delicious sauce imported from Japan.
Next comes the Salmon Carpaccio, clean and fresh in taste. Salmon roe, ponzu gelee and black sesame add a lovely balance to the dish. Hakkaisan Tokebetsu Junmai sake makes a good accompaniment to the citrus flavours in the sauce.
Asari Sakamushi are littleneck clams steamed and served with a very delicate and light sake broth.
The Salmon Teriyaki with lotus roots is served with a thick, sweet Teriyaki sauce which delivers a more concentrated flavour. The salmon is lightly cooked and accompanied by shimeji mushroom and salmon roe. The dish is presented in a beautiful gold rimmed plate.
Pork Fillet Katsu
For the Pork Fillet Katsu, tender meat is deep fried to a crisp and comes with sweet thick concentrated katsu sauce, a dollop of sharp Japanese mustard and uji matcha, a finely milled powder of green tea with salt. A Junmaiginjyou sake with more robust flavour accompanies the dish.
Nasu Miso combines eggplant, pork, shimeji and a scattering of sesame seeds in red miso sauce which delivers a strong umami flavour that makes the dish. Jyunmai sake from Bishonen in the Kumamoto prefecture is a little light on the palate and needs more complexity to accompany the richness of the dish.
Participation is required for the Wagyu Shabu-Shabu as a cooker is brought to the table for you to prepare the wagyu beef, shitake and shimeji mushrooms, tofu strips, and cherry tomatoes. The wagyu is thinly sliced and requires little cooking time so as to keep it tender and to maximise its natural flavour. The dish is accompanied by ponzu jelly and sesame dressing with sides of daikon, sliced shallots and grated ginger.
For the main course, there’s a choice of Unagi Gohan (eel) or Wagyu Sukiyaki Gohan (beef).
Unaghi Gohan is a dish of parts. The unagi eel is tender, well-flavoured and served on a bed of kinme rice with a julienne omelette. The rice has a lovely nutty flavour and a hint of sweetness compared to normal short grain rice.
Served in a small cup is chawanmushi, a silky smooth savoury egg custard with a hint of cooked egg, and to complete the course, a light miso soup.
For dessert, Warabi Mochi is a jelly made from bracken starch and covered in uji matcha, the finely milled powder of green tea with salt and accompanied by red bean paste and water chestnuts. A popular summer treat in Japan, it can be an acquired taste.
Matcha Ice Cream
The Matcha Ice Cream is light, well flavoured with a hint of sweetness and is the best pick of the two from the menu. Both desserts come with hot tea and a glass of Choya Umeshu, a sweet plum liqueur served on ice.
Yayoi’s Kayaba degustation menu ($80 pp) is a generous option that takes your taste buds from the light, elegant and citrusy elements to more robust dishes. Each course is well executed and beautifully presented on custom plates imported from Japan which heightens the dining experience. The flavours are well-balanced throughout and each component is in harmony with the progression in the menu. The servings shown in the photos are for two persons, with the exception of the Zensai Santen Mori or assorted appetisers and dessert which are served individually.
While Yayoi is known for its teishoku and fast service, you need a good couple of hours to enjoy the Kayaba menu, and a good appetite. It’s well worth the price and experience. Alternatively, there’s the Yozakura menu. Accompanying wines or sake are also available for a very reasonable $20 or you may make your own selections from the drinks menu.
Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant
28 Bridge St
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