Over the last few years, Japanese food has gradually been permeating the Sydney food scene with more choices of specialised Japanese cuisine. Gone the days when we think of Japanese food as either sushi or tempura.
Leading the pack is ‘Teishoku’ dining, introduced by Plenus Co Ltd. operator of renowned Yayoi, the largest Japanese Teishoku Restaurant chain in Japan, they also have outlets across Asia and the USA.
Yayoi’s third branch in Sydney opened last December on the 6th floor at Westfield Shopping Centre in the heart of the CBD. The restaurant has both inside and outside seating offering diners a modern yet authentic dining experience. The tables and chairs are stylish and versatile with easy access to a tablet ordering system fixed on every table. The wooden interior with sophisticated lighting and minimal decor provides a warm and relaxed environment.
Teishoku means ‘set meals’ in Japanese, where all of the dishes are served together on a single tray. This type of cuisine integrates various cooking methods and seasonal ingredients which include a main dish, miso soup, two side dishes and boiled rice.
Last week, I was invited to the Teishoku and Umeshu – Japanese Plum Wine Tasting organised by FCBA – Food Critics and Bloggers Australia (@fcba.community on Instagram) at the new Yayoi branch. It was an epic night of Japanese food and plum wine tasting and experiencing the finest Teishoku dining has to offer, here are some of the highlights of the night.
Entree and Main Dishes (also available on their menu)
The tasting session started with some entree dishes. Who would not love Edamame $5, these bad boys you crack out of their green shells, you can’t stop eating them. If you want something to refreshes your palate before the main meal, try the Salmon Salad $12, slices of fresh salmon on mixed salad greens served with ‘wafu dressing’ – Japanese style, it’s a light dish. Tamagoyaki $7.50 (rolled omelette) served with grated daikon (radish) has a hint of sweetness balanced with savoury layers of seasoned egg omelette. The grated daikon is a flavour enhancer to the omelette, it’s best to pour soy sauce over the daikon to enhance its refreshing taste.
These two main dishes can be ordered separately or as a set. Crispy and juicy Chicken Namban $15.30 topped with a light tartare sauce was a big hit. The sweet and sour sauce infuses into the chicken adding a harmony of flavours, this dish is definitely not to be missed. Always a favourite, the Salmon Teriyaki $20.30 was moist and well coated with teriyaki sauce.
Umeshu – Japanese Plum Wine
Served on the rocks, a total of ten varieties of Umeshu (Japanese Plum Wine) $8 each were offered for tasting. Umeshu can be enjoyed as an aperitif, it’s sweet and full of aroma, a perfect pre-dinner drink to stimulate the appetite. It’s also great as a dessert wine, there’s nothing better than a little sweet wine to end your meal on a high note. I throughly enjoy the three that I picked randomly from the line up, The Classic, Aged 3 Years and Yuzu, all have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, a must try.
Teishoku – Set Meals
Big serving, the ultra comforting hotpot Wagyu Sukiyaki $26.80 set came with salmon sashimi, onsen tamago (poached egg), asari (clams) miso shiru, pickles and a bowl of boiled rice. The thinly sliced beef was tender and tasted even better when dipped into the egg along with udon noodles, tofu and vegetables. The warishita (sukiyaki sauce) added sweetness and saltiness to the dish. The asari (clams) pairs wonderfully to the dish and the rice was fluffy and slightly sticky. Yayoi uses a high quality rice called ‘Kinme mai’, sent directly from Japan.
Unagi Hitsumabushi $26 set – slices of grilled eel served in a large bowl of rice topped with dried seaweed and thin slices of fried egg. The set included salmon sashimi, asari miso shiru, condiments, tofu and mushrooms topped with sticky sauce as side dish, container with broth and an empty bowl. The empty bowl is used to try the three ways on how to tackle this dish, first, scoop unagi and rice and eat it as is, second scoop rice and unagi then add the wasabi and spring onions to give it zing and lastly, with the remainder unagi and rice, add the accompanying broth to make it a soup like dish. There are no set rules to tackle this dish, nonetheless, following the recommendation on the menu is an experience in itself, or you can eat it the way you want it.
Yayoi Gozen $32 – recommended set meal. This meal includes all the delicious flavours of Yayoi, served in a traditional box such as pork loin cutlet, salmon salad, sukiyaki, salmon teriyaki, asari miso shiru, pickles, side dish and rice. The pork loin was a deep fried breaded cutlet that was tender and juice oozed out with every bite. The other elements of this dish are similar to all the dishes above. This meal will certainly fill an empty stomach.
Note. All meals come with miso soup however, you can add $3.00 to upgrade to Asari (clams) miso soup and Salmon sashimi is $4.50 extra.
To finish off the night, we were treated to a sweet note of three luscious desserts. The first one to be served was morsels of jelly-like textured warabi mochi (made from bracken starch), dusted with soybean powder, Kinako Warabi Mochi (top left) – $5. Pour the brown sugar syrup over the mochi to add sweetness to this nutty, delicious and chewy treat. Matcha Warabi Mochi (bottom left)- $5, followed, similar to Kinako except it’s coated with matcha powder, a crowd pleaser. It also came with brown sugar syrup. Last was the Matcha Anmitsu (right) – $8, beautifully presented green tea ice cream with lingering flavour along with smooth azuki beans, agar jelly and fruits to which at the end you’ll say ‘Oishi ne’ (delicious in Japanese)! The three desserts are very familiar during the summer season in Japan so I can’t wait to go back again in the colder weather and check out the other seasonal offerings.
The menu consists of Entree, Main and Set Meals including a range of unique Sake and Wines carefully selected to match with Japanese food. Currently there are three YAYOI Restaurants in Sydney, Yayoi The Galeries, Yayoi Chatswood, Yayoi Westfield and soon Yayoi Market City.
For details check out their website below for reservation and opening hours: