When Japanese restaurant chain Yayoi – which has 343 outlets in Japan and 194 across Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, the US, the Philippines and Malaysia – opened its first restaurant in The Galeries in the CBD three years ago, the crowds gathered. Since then it has opened in Westfield Sydney and Chatswood, too.

The chain, which is owned by Plenus AusT, is accommodating demand by opening a fourth store in Market City’s 1909 Dining Precinct: a new, three-level retail hub and high-end food court near China Town.

While an a-la-carte menu is available, it’s hard to go past Yayoi specialty: teishoku (set meals). “These [are] what we eat in Japan every day,” says Akihiro Suzuki, Plenus AusT's chief financial officer. “It represents a healthy, balanced diet. We don’t eat sushi every day like most people think. We only have them on special occasions.”

Each meal comes with a bowl of kinme mai rice imported from Japan, miso soup, a main dish, and two seasonal sides. These can be anything from goma-ae (Japanese spinach doused in sesame and soy), to a potato salad or wakame (seaweed) – all of which are made in-house. There’s the option to upgrade your meal by adding clams to your miso soup and salmon sashimi.

When it comes to choosing mains, the pictures in the menu help. Suzuki recommends the Wagyu sukiyaki teishoku, which is ideal for the cooler weather. A stone hotpot brimming with thinly sliced Wagyu beef, udon noodles, knots of yam noodles, tofu, onions and shimeji mushrooms is also a must.

Suzuki’s personal favourite, though, is the chicken namban, an extra-crispy, fried, Panko-crumbed chicken thigh served with tartare sauce.

There's also a wide selection of flavoured umeshu (plum wine), from green tea and yuzu, to a version aged for three years.

All orders are put through on a touchscreen menu. But it’s not just this that makes you feel like you’ve been transported to Japan. With the help of Sydney-based interior-design firm Mima Design, Yayoi Market City has been assembled using light-blond wood for its tables and crisscross bamboo-like panelling, which contrasts with the black chairs and mood lighting.

Yayoi Market City
Level 3, 9–13 Hay Street, Haymarket
(02) 9211 0918

Daily 11.30am–9.30pm


This article was updated on August 9, 2018. This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 5, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.