Yachiyo seems to be a true hidden gem of Japanese dining in Sydney. It’s one of, if not the only place where you can get a full 20 – piece omakase without basically any notice. My partner and I were able to book at around noon for a same-day Friday evening omakase dinner. Be careful though – If you try and book too late in the day you won’t be able to – but you normally will be able to book the following day.
Yachiyo has three grades of omakase – we chose the middle grade, “OMAKASE MIX”, which featured a bit of yakitori and tempura as well as the usual yakitori. Here’s what we got for $80 per person (it was quite impressive.)
The first nigiri offered was a piece of tuna belly (toro) of Japanese origin. It was very oily and fatty, as tuna belly should be. My partner really enjoyed this first piece, but I felt like mine unfortunately had a bit of connective tissue to it which decreased the quality of the fish. Overall quite good, but I didn’t like it as much as course 2.
The second piece was nigiri with Australian bluefin tuna, aged for twelve days. This morsel may have been my favourite little morsel of the meal. While not imported from a far away land, I found that the fish in this piece had a perfect texture with no distracting components. It was fatty but not overpoweringly fatty, and the aging really enhanced its umami tuna flavours.
The third serving of the night was an aburi salmon belly nigiri. The fatty salmon belly with the lightly caramelised surface with rendered fats was delicious. The chef Mitsuhiro Yashio told us that each salmon only had enough belly to produce six pieces of this nigiri. Poor salmons.
The aburi kingfish belly nigiri was the fourth piece of the meal, and the first piece that I didn’t feel was very special. Chef talked it up a bit as another rare piece of fish, but despite the slightly higher fattiness of it I found the taste and texture not too different from the commodity aburi kingfish nigiri that you would get at a normal sushi restaurant (for example Sushi Rio or Sushi Hotaru). Still yummy.
Piece 5 was the bluefin tuna temaki (hand roll). I wasn’t sure if there was some natto inside – I thought that’s what I saw and is pictured on the left side of the photo, but I couldn’t really taste it and my partner doubts me. Keeping in the theme of the delicious bluefin tuna, this hand roll was also one of my favourites. I loved the tender fatty tuna, as well as the really high quality seaweed. Delicious.
Our sixth dish was bluefin tuna sashimi in ponzu dressing. For some reason I didn’t like this as much. I think I was more a fan of their fish with rice, as rice generally can provide a bit of a contrast to fatty fish.
The seventh course was royal red prawn nigiri. Unfortunately I made a mistake, and the chef paid the price. I had advised the restaurant that I was allergic to scampi, but that prawns and other crustaceans were OK. Unfortunately the prawn that they served me was the exact same prawn (royal red) that I had at the debacle at MOXHE. While I don’t know if it was the prawn or another piece of mystery seafood that set off my gastrointestinal tract, I didn’t want to leave it to chance. Had it been literally any other prawn I probably would’ve gone for it. My partner ended up having both of the royal red prawn – she said that the texture was similar to MOXHE’s but the taste wasn’t as sweet and not as good – and the chef prepared me a consolation prize at no additional cost. Thank you.
My consolation prize for not being able to really eat the royal red prawn was this piece of salmon sushi. I can’t find any words to describe this form of sushi, but it was basically a piece of fish and some rice sandwiched within a folded piece of seaweed. Almost like a mini, single bite temaki. It was actually quite good, and very thoughtful and nice of the chef to fix what was ultimately my own doing.
Items eight, nine, and ten were assorted yakitori. I will describe them in the order I ate them in.
Item eight, the chicken thigh yakitori, was juicy and flavourful. It was delicious, and exactly how I remember all of the good yakitori that I had in Japan. It is much better than some of the yakitori I’ve had here in Sydney, for example at Lantern by Wagaya.
Item nine, the salmon belly yakitori, was super fatty and delicious. It basically melted in my mouth as soon as I bit into it, and I loved that there was some crispy skin to mix up the texture. My partner didn’t like this that much but she’s wrong – she’s not a big fan of seafood in general (but seems to love sushi!).
Item ten, the skewered pork and ginger meatballs, were less exciting. The chicken and salmon belly yakitori were just so special, but I felt like the meatballs were just meatballs, and perhaps a bit too strongly flavoured for my liking.
Food number eleven was a cuttlefish nigiri with shiso-salt. As I usually eat nigiri with fish-to-tongue, I was quite shocked to receive a strong flavour hit as the shiso-salt coated my tongue with saltiness. Evidently that is not the way to go with this particular piece of sushi. Once I got over the intense saltiness of the salt I started to enjoy the rich, creamy cuttlefish texture and flavours. I don’t normally think of cuttlefish as creamy, but a combination of this particular cuttlefish’s intrinsic qualities, the normally chewy texture of cuttlefish ing eneral, as well as the flavour micro-cuts gave it an extremely creamy flavour that actually lasted a long time in my mouth.
I thought that morsel twelve – hokkaido scallop nigiri with yuzu dressing, was a bit of a letdown. While I’m used to raw scallop being sweet I actually thought this nigiri had a bit of a bitter taste to it.
Dish thirteen was bar cod nigiri. This is the first time I have had bar cod, but to be honest it didn’t leave a lasting impression. It tasted very similar to most other white fish out there.
Number fourteen was tempura zucchini with a prawn-meat filling. Chef warned me about the prawn as I wasn’t keen to eat the earlier prawn sashimi, but I thought I would be ok with this prawn and I was right. I wonder if the potential allergen is something that is denatured by cooking. I enjoyed the tempura – it came fresh from the deep fryer, and the distance from the fryer to us seated at the bar was very limited. This was my first time having tempura zucchini, and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure how common zucchini is as a vegetable to tempura. The prawn meat inside was tasty, but not quite prawn – more like cooked surimi type stuff. Not bad.
Bite fifteen saw the return of the as yet unnamed temaki-but-not-curled, gunkan-but-not-a-boat, now with oyster filling. I enjoyed this oyster – it was not seasoned, unlike the oysters I’ve been having with dressings at Western restaurants, which helped accentuate the mild ocean flavour. My partner, who is not very keen on oysters at all even tried it.
Nibble number sixteen was cooked abalone with rice, sandwiched within a folded nori sheet. Abalone is quite an upscale seafood, but I was sad not to have it raw (not that I’m sure if it’s even possible). If I’m being honest I couldn’t really taste the taste of the abalone, which must have been subtle. Most of the flavour was from the sauced up rice and the nori.
Mouthful seventeen was finally something I could identify – ikura gunkan. This particular gunkan had absolutely massive bulbous salmon roes, larger than any I’ve had in recent memory. Unfortunately though I found these particular roe to too marinated for my personal taste. They had a strong sweet and salty taste that didn’t really leave much of the fresh roe flavour. My partner also criticised it for not being as creamy as she would have liked.
The eighteenth and final fish piece of the meal was a deliciously fatty cooked black cod sushi. It had a flaky, melt in your mouth texture, with strong patagonian toothfish energy. Yum.
Our nineteenth and final morsel was a crunchy matcha dessert, which tasted of white chocolate and rice puffs. A nice, light, but not very showy end to a nice meal.
Overall we had a really good time at Yachiyo. The food was delicious, the price was excellent, and even the table water was filtered. I can highly recommend, and indeed have already recommended Yachiyo to two separate groups of colleagues on the same night that I’ve eaten there. Yum.
346 Victoria St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
(02) 9331 8107