Yayoi Garden near Circular Quay is the first outlet of the Japanese chain of Yayoiken restaurants outside of Asia. There are hundreds in Japan, as well as Korea, China, Singapore and Thailand. It has just re-opened its doors with a brand new name, menu, sake list and look.
The new spring menu includes a number of stand out dishes such as Scampi Shio-Koji Zuke (raw scampi marinated in salted rice malt), Harimasa Usuzukuri (kingfish carpaccio), Pork Kakuni (slow-cooked braised pork belly in a soy sauce base).
Yayoi specialises in teishoku, a set meal commonly cooked at home in Japan that involves rice, miso soup, a main dish and two smaller dishes. Being Japanese, balance and the aesthetic quality of the meal is paramount. The restaurant, too, is simple and attractive: with floor-to-ceiling windows, blonde-wood tables and detailed ceramic tableware. After ordering off the touch-screen menu, a pot of rice is brought to the table to cook in front of you; called kinme, it’s a type of rice that’s as nutritious as brown rice but retains the sweetness and softer texture of white rice.
The new spring menu has been meticulously matched with a complementary and extensive drinks menu by certified sake master and sommelier Masahiko Iga who was also the selected wine and sake sommelier for the 2015 Melbourne Iron Chef event. The sake available comes from various respected labels such as Houraisen, Dassai, Tengumai and Yoshinogawa.
For those looking at a place to host a birthday, dinner or corporate function, Yayoi Garden has a new private dining area suitable up to 16 people.