New Asian barbeque restaurants are popping up all over Melbourne. There’s Chinese barbeque spot Wang Wang in Malvern, Thai-style joint Aunglo in the CBD, K-BBQ favourite Mansae’s new Queen Vic Market location and now Yakinau, a new yakiniku or Japanese barbeque spot.

The restaurant, led by Shammi Liang’s Melbourne Hospitality Group, opened in the Queen’s Place apartment complex on the corner of Queen and A’Beckett Streets in the CBD this week.

The restaurant design evokes the colour-drenched cityscapes of Tokyo with neon purple lighting and bright bold signage. It’s balanced with more traditional Japanese features like paper lanterns dotting the ceiling and kawara, a style of Japanese roofing tile, above the bar. There are paper shoji screens between each booth and a private tatami-style dining room (where diners sit on mats) with room for up to 12 guests.

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“Yakinau is all about capturing that lively izakaya vibe,” Melbourne Hospitality Group managing director Stephanie Leung tells Broadsheet.

Dining at Yakinau is an interactive affair. Every table has a built-in gas-powered net grill (as opposed to an iron plate) that you use to cook your own seafood, pork belly and Australian and Japanese Wagyu. If barbequing your meal isn’t for you, there are “Wagyu experts” on hand who can walk you through the menu and help ensure your meat is cooked to your liking.

The kitchen is led by former Nobu Melbourne sushi chef Hugo Mai. Those who would rather not wield the flame can order dishes including Wagyu tartare, chicken thigh skewers with leek, and kaisen don (seafood rice bowls) topped with Tasmanian uni, Yarra Valley salmon roe and a soy-cured egg yolk.

While the Wagyu is the star, a highlight is the sweet potato dessert. A whole charcoal-grilled white sweet potato is served topped with purin (Japanese custard pudding) and finished with a brûléed sugar topping.

To drink, there’s Australian wine, Japanese beer, including Sapporo, and sake. If you’re willing to get a bit messy, there are also sake bombs. Similar to a soju bomb, the drink arrives with a shot of sake clipped to the inside of a pint glass half-filled with beer. Slam the pint glass against the table to knock the shot into the glass, then drink.

370 Queens Place, Melbourne
03 9996 8248

Daily 11am–3pm; 5pm–11pm