This article originally appeared in the latest July edition of Foodie: The Future of Food. Read it here!
What is it?
From the founder who brought us laid-back Spanish restaurant Rustico, comes an entirely different concept in the form of a Japanese grill bar in buzzy Tsim Sha Tsui East. Yayakiya opened its doors in mid-May and specialises in Hakata-style yakitori with plenty of funky libations to make any happy hour eventful. There's the refreshing Applesabi ($88), and the zesty caffeine fix that is Orange Espresso Martini ($88), plus an extensive sake selection to pick your poison from.
On the food front, Yayakiya offers an assortment of grilled skewers hailing from the Fukuoka region, where the word “yakitori”, which literally means grilled chicken, can also encompass a variety of delicacies such as pork, beef, vegetables and seafood. In this sense, it really should be termed more as a kushiyaki.
Was it good?
Although we didn't arrive at happy hour, we sat down for a midday meal to sample a menu which included not only grilled skewers but also sashimi and sushi rolls. Our skewers arrived on a bed of raw cabbage leaves, which is a Fukuoka tradition. The idea is for the meat juices from the skewers to trickle down and act as a dressing for the leaves. Pork plays an important role in Fukuoka yakitori, so we started the meal with skewers of pork belly wrapped around an assortment of ingredients ranging from mini green peppers ($33), to tender asparagus ($32), to basil and cheese ($28). Our favourite was the skewer of quail eggs wrapped with pork belly ($28), which was a delicious contrast between creamy soft egg yolk and crispy caramelized bacon. This would have made for a great Japanese style breakfast! The rock shrimp tempura with a curry powdered batter ($72) was a highlight of the restaurant, although it didn't make it to our recommendations list, as the shrimp was overcooked and rubbery. The Wagyu beef sukiyaki rolls wrapped around seasonal vegetables and chewy gluten and cheese ($55) were another highlight, and came with a raw egg yolk dipping sauce. This was delicious, although a bit over-drenched in sauce. Other specialities include the spicy tuna on fried crispy sushi rice ($70) and a curious waffle chirashi sushi filled with a selection that included tuna and scallion, shrimp, salmon or mixed seafood ($45) over a bed of rice and shiitake mushrooms. The waffle crust reminded us of Japanese dessert rather than a savoury accompaniment.
Rock shrimp tempura
Wagyu beef sukiyaki rolls
The red brick walls and vintage tables and chairs give the restaurant a casual, laid-back ambiance. The menu isn't anywhere close to the likes of fine yakitori establishments like Toritama, but it's a fun little place to stop by for after-work drinks if you happen to be in the area. Just don't overthink it.
Shop no. 10-12B, G/F, Windsor Mansion, 29-31 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui
Scan the QR code here!