We had an unforgettable evening dining at YAYOI Garden Japanese Restaurant in Circular Quay.
The ambiance, atmosphere and service from the evening was all in high praise. The small details taken into consideration to make the dining experience more enjoyable was noteworthy. Small black envelopes were waiting for us when we arrived which detailed our 5 course menu starting with Zensai Niten Mori, Gindara Saikyo-yaki, Temari Sushi, Premium Wagyu Teppan Steak and Green Tea Ice Cream.But before we dive into the menu, let's start with drinks!
2016 La Prova Prosecco, King Valley, Victoria
We were greeted with what we thought at first was a champagne with it's similar body and texture. The drink was fresh and was dominated by floral notes and fresh fruits.
Houraisen - Aichi Junmai Daiginjo Bi
Sweet fruity flavour whilst showing a fine balance between gentle acidity and sweet fruit flavours.
This sake is served cold and has a 45% polishing ratio. Strong. Crisp. Fruity. Those three words come to mind when thinking of this sake. It is strong, yet doesn't leave your nose burning and leaves a nice fragrant fruity flavour lingering in your mouth.
Zensai Niten Mori
Handmade sesame paste tofu served with roast duck and seasonal dried fruit (orange and fig). This was a great way to awaken your taste buds before diving into the main courses. Given the unique plating of this dish, we weren't sure if it had to be eaten left to right or vice versa. When dishes are served this way, it's really hard to not think that. We decided to think logically and start from the left and work my way to the dried fruits. Each element was a different experience, a new journey in their own way. The texture and slight saltiness from the tofu, the soft gamey texture from the duck to then be wrapped up together nicely with the dried fruits. Thinking back now, we question how the polar opposite of flavours didn't send our reaction the other way. It was a pleasant mix surprisingly!
Lightly boiled green soybeans are always a great snack in between meals. We usually prefer some salt flakes or seasoning on the edamame. You could really taste the soybean. For those who haven't had Edamame, you don't eat the shell. Suck on the shell to take the bean out which makes eating Edamame a fun experience.
If you are looking for something fun, different and playful then try ordering the Gindara Saikyo-yaki. You would be surprised when a parchment of cederwood is neatly tied and presented in front of you, to then be surprised with a perfectly grilled Black Cod marinated in Kyoto style miso paste. The aroma before we even opened the cederwood filled the room, sending everyone's senses into overdrive. The Black Cod was soft, flaky and tasted like a cool beach breeze on a hot summer day.
YAYOI Temari Sushi
A Kyoto-style sushi platter of fresh ingredients. What makes this dish different from regular sushi is the process of how it is made and the serving portion of the rice. Temari sushi is served as sashimi on top of a large ball of rice as opposed to a smaller, bite size strip of rice. We sampled some of the finest fresh ingredients including salmon, yellow fin, prawns and scallops. This will take some time getting used to as I struggled eating the sushi, while Matt was able to eat the whole ball in one fell swoop. If anything, the additional rice soaks up more sauce and provides more substance. It also looks very pleasing to the eyes when it is served so elegantly.
Premium Wagyu Teppan Steak
This dish is still imprinted in our memories and we have probably mentioned it a few hundred times already. Wagyu beef is served on a plate raw and cut into strips. The lantern hotplate then arrives and then the fun begins. The beef is best cooked medium or even go as far as saying rare. It really just needs time to seal on each side and your are ready to dip your steak into the salt provided and let the juices swirl around your mouth. You bite into the steak expecting some resistance but instead there is nothing. Your teeth glide straight through the meat as though it was butter, yet really tasty. Just make us a promise ordering this dish. Don't overcook it and take full advantage of the Japanese salt!
Matcha Ice Cream and Warabi Mochi
The night then came to an end with the arrival of the green tea ice cream and warabi mochi. The mochi is a jelly-like dessert made from bracken starch. It had a bouncy texture and didn't stick to your teeth like you would expect. The green tea ice cream was nice, not our favourite but thankfully it wasn't too strong, so it didn't leave you with that bitter aftertaste. The sweetness from the red bean paste and blueberries complimented the entire dish.
Thank you Yayoi for the lovely porcelain bowl and flowers. Thank you Zomato for inviting us.