*Thank you Kayla and Yuri from Washoku Lovers for your hospitality and for introducing us to this store. Special thanks to Yebisu Bar and Grill for their service and kindness on the night of the event.
Bigger is better and Izakaya Yebisu, the popular restaurant, has expanded out into Chinatown and into a bigger space called Yebisu Bar & Grill.
The restaurant is set in the heart of a busy street in Chinatown nestled between the commotion of the surrounding restaurants. Inside and overlooking the walkway of Chinatown is a little slice of Japan. With pop culture references adorning the walls in a street style fashion and the ever friendly welcome of ‘Irrashaimase’ echoes throughout the restaurant as you enter. The restaurant has this amazing vibe running throughout it from the second you enter to the seat.
We were lucky enough to sit at the bar so we could watch the yakitori chefs at work while they cooked some delicious skewers.
There was an iPad in front of us which was similar to the Izakaya Yebsiu style of ordering, for any orders or to peruse the menu, it was all done with a couple of easy swipes.
Before we started to order, we were shown the specials which change daily depending on what is available fresh at the market. It’s a great way to show the season’s freshest produce. There was a beyond gorgeous selection of items available and with the recommendations of Yuri alongside the specials we were excited to make our selections.
After our orders were locked in one of the lovely waitresses stopped by with what I like to call the ‘Sake Train’, a cart full of different sake offering to each table if they were interested in having some for the evening.
We happily said yes and tasted a couple of mild sakes to go along with our food for the evening.
After you order your sake and place it through the iPad order, something amazing and wonderful happens. The sake waitress pulls out a bell and rings it and it is greeted with applause from the entire restaurant. If that’s not an inspiration for you to order a sake, I don’t know what is.
Ootoro (6 Pieces)
One of the specials of the evening was Ootoro, a fatty belly that came in 6 generous pieces. Traditionally ootoro isn’t so easily available as it’s a small proportion of a larger tuna cut, and depending on the tuna, it may not always be as available. This time around the gradient of the ootoro was beautiful, with a gorgeous marble interlaced throughout. The sushi is wonderfully fresh and absolutely melts away, almost like a lovely marbelled piece of steak. Highly indulgent, but delicious none the less.
Scampi is a moreish dish that you can eat so much of. A very close relative to prawns, it’s understandable just how loved this little crustacean is. Naturally a touch larger than prawns and I find a little sweeter as well, it was good to see this on the special menu for the evening. As one of my favourite sashimi dishes, alongside ootoro and salmon, scampi is on a completely different level. The soft flesh is almost gooey with a slight bite, although seemingly small, one scampi is actually quite generous. The scampi at Yebisu Bar and Grill was sweet and super fresh and although was rich and moreish, I wanted more and more, but I knew I had to pace myself. If it happens to be on the menu next time you visit, it’s a MUST ORDER!
We were recommended to try the Slate Fin as it’s a great pairing for drinking sake.
I haven’t heard of this kind of dish before and later found out that Skate fish is similar looking to a sting ray as the fin is actually the ‘wings’ of the fish that is dried and then further grilled to be served as this dish. The dish arrived slightly warm with a distinct salty taste remiscent to the ocean.
As fries are a staple with most meals, lotus chips are one of those addictive must order style meals. I must say they arrived hot and crispy, but that wasn’t the best bit.
They were covered in the most amazing umami style salt/powder that just made the whole bowl so highly addicting. Honestly, some of the best lotus chips I have ever had.
Yakitori: Wagyu Beef: Teriyaki, Salt, Chicken Skin Salt, Beef and Enoki Mushroom
As we did previously, it’s hard to say no to yakitori when you have a good sake and you’re in that izakaya vibe.
All the yakitori we tried in the evening was fantastic and there was certainly added glow in actually being able to sit at the bar and watch our yakitori be made in front of us.
My absolute favourite was the beef and enoki mushroom. The beef was robust and bold in flavour – the simplicity of the beef barely seasoned to show the beauty of cut that is chosen in the process. The enoki was wrapped tightly and also cooked to perfectio whilst also soaking up the beef juices at it cooked. Biting into the little bundle was a delight of flavour and textures. A must order next time!
Tempura Ice Cream (Washoku Special)
The tempura ice cream was a perfect light option to finish off our delicious meal. As a part of Washoku Lovers, you can get this ice cream at a discounted $2 if you can show the staff your code when you login.
The ice cream was not too sweet with a crisp batter on the outside that made for a fairly clean finish.
Overall we had an absolute ball at Yebisu Bar and Grill from the atmosphere, to the sake bell, to the extensive menu. The staff were lovely from start to finish and we ate to our absolute hearts content with the huge variety in the menu. We are absolutely going to come back and this will certainly be a regular of ours from now on.