Behind the glare of a vibrant orange shopfront in the CBD is Yappari, the first outpost of a popular Japanese fast-food franchise. It’s no run-of-the-mill extravagant steakhouse, of which our city has plenty. The Okinawa-born spot – with its rapid service and concise menu – is committed to delivering high-quality cuts of beef without a high price tag. The drawcard? Steaks arrive to the table on a superheated lava stone, captivating diners with a dramatic sizzle and wonderful aroma. Tadanari leki, Yappari Sydney’s owner, first came across the concept while travelling in Japan and thought it could spice things up in Sydney.
“Living in Sydney, I wanted fast food that wasn’t just burgers and fried stuff,” Leki tells Broadsheet. “When I lived in Japan, there were a lot of fast-food places that offered high-quality ramen and combination rice dishes. Sydney is improving in that aspect, especially with ramen, so I wanted to provide something different. Australia produces wonderful beef – it immediately got me thinking about introducing the hot lava stone concept here in Sydney.”
The hot rocks aren’t just a flamboyant gimmick, either; they put the control into diners’ hands, ensuring they dine on a steak cooked to their own specifications. “It engages the customers, and I believe the hot lava stones make the steaks more tasty, as it sears [them]. It’s similar to Korean or Japanese barbeque, but this is more personalised. We serve it quite rare so people can grill it to their [preference] and eat it hot, fresh off the stone.”
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You won’t find coveted Wagyu or rib eye on the menu. Instead, Yappari opts for more affordable cuts that also boast tenderness and great depth of flavour. “It’s providing people delicious steaks at affordable prices,” says Leki. “I’ve built this store with students and young people in mind. Everyone should be able to eat good quality beef and feel full.”
On the menu, you’ll find three cuts of steak: the Yappari steak (an oyster blade cut), the rump cut and the chuck tail flap. Available in different weights – from 100 to 450 grams – each option is served as a set with rice, soup and salad. (The most popular is the 150-gram Yappari steak set, at $24.90.) Additional menu options include garlic bread, beef tendon curry rice and fries. Vegan options are available, with plant-based burger steaks and veggie curry rice dishes.
The 44-seat eatery is situated on Bathurst Street, easily spotted with the golden hue generated by its warm lights and wooden interior. Booths in earthy tones sit along both walls, providing a classic family-diner feel. Each table is topped with a tiered tray carrying an expansive array of condiments, including the original Yappari onion steak sauce and a more-ish sweet sesame dressing. Seats towards the rear of the restaurant have a front-row view of the open kitchen, where sizzling steaks can be seen flying out at pace.
Regent Place Shopping Centre, 101 Bathurst Street, Sydney
0451 593 100