When Lost in Food were asked to review Yatai in advance of Aberdeen Restaurant Week 2018 we were delighted. Yatai has been a favourite restaurant of ours for many years and it was a pleasure to write about a place we both loved. So on Wednesday night we headed along for the preview dinner to sample what the restaurant had to offer.
With a relaxed and casual atmosphere it's a lovely place to eat, with friendly and helpful staff. But don't let this laid back scene fool you, as rest assured there is nothing casual about the food itself. In fact the food here is a beautifully plated delight for the taste buds.
The £20 per person menu is based on the Japanese custom of sharing many plates throughout the course of the meal. With small dishes being laid before us as we progressed through the evening.
First up was a simple bowl of edamame, delicious steamed soy beans served in the pod with a good sprinkle of sea salt. We sat happily eating these while perusing the menu to see what else we were going to enjoy.
We didn't have to wait long before a plate of yasai gyoza was laid in front of us. Hot fried vegetable dumplings that were full of flavour and served alongside a tangy citrus soy dipping sauce. I could happily have eaten the entire plate myself, however suspect that my dining companions would have had something to say about this.
Sake Makizushi was our next sharing, salmon & pickled cucumber sushi rolls which we all devoured greedily seeing as we all love sushi. Sushi, pickled ginger, wasabi and soy - simple perfection.
Next on the menu was takoyaki, deep fried octopus dough balls with katsu mayo and bonito flakes. Now I'll be totally honest here I was sceptical as octopus is not something I normally enjoy and I could see Michelle's face looking rather hesitant also. However we were proven entirely wrong, they were superb! Not only did this dish taste amazing it also looked beautiful. With the bonito flakes gently moving as the hot steam rose from the dish, giving the appearance that the dish was alive. Which of course it wasn't. Bonito flakes are paper thin flakes of dried, fermented and smoked fish in case anyone was wondering.
We agreed that no meal at Yatai would be complete without Buta Barra Kushiyaki, that's slow braised & charcoal grilled pork belly skewers to you and I. Served with a simple mustard miso these have been a firm favourite for many years. If you've never tried them then you should!
As is traditional in Japanese culture the meal finished with a serving of steamed Japanese rice and pickles. Aside from being a colourful way to end the meal, we all enjoyed trying each of the pickles. Made all the more enjoyable knowing that they'd been made by the chefs from vegetables picked from their own allotment. In fact I'm going to try pickling some courgette myself.
When I asked our party at the end of the meal if they'd had enough, we all agreed we had and not one of us had room for dessert. However, we all agreed that we'd gladly eat the whole dinner over again simply because the food tasted so good.
I have loved Yatai since it opened it's first small restaurant on Skene Street. All these years later I can still remember the taste of the Black Cod with Miso, as close to a perfect plate of food as I've eaten. I've continued to visit Yatai regularly over the years and in fact it was one of the first places I introduced my blogging buddy Michelle to when we first became friends. Put simply it is a restaurant that over many years has served us both dish after dish of excellent food. A place we truly love to eat in and where we trust that we will always eat well.
If you want to join in Aberdeen Restaurant Week and fancy trying this great value menu then we suggest you book in advance. We simply cannot recommend it enough.
This review is based solely on our own experiences of the food. The cost of our meal was covered by Aberdeen Inspired.