8 Lyndhurst Terrace has a bit of a fabled history. The ground floor was long home to La Piola’s buzzing expat bar scene, and then there was Harlan Goldstein’s short-lived restaurant ventures. It’s now home to ZS Hospitality Group’s retro HK-style bar and restaurant Lee Lo Mei and the questionably named (but really quite delicious) MEXUS, which offers a hotchpotch of Mexican and American dishes. Yakimon is the the restaurant group’s newest eclectic tenant, where Japanese chef Toshiki Takatsuki has married Japanese cuisine with innovative Western elements.
Like most contemporary Japanese restaurants these days, the decor is dark and sleek, with an open kitchen in the back so that you can watch the chefs grilling up a storm.
We made the amateur mistake of booking a lunch tasting, where set lunches are the focus, but we also sampled a few items from the à la carte menu in order to get a more comprehensive eating experience. The set lunches at Yakimon are priced at $138–388, and most include miso soup, salad, steamed egg custard, pickles and dessert. We went for both lowbrow (cold soba noodles set for $138) and fancy-schmancy (A5 Japanese Wagyu beef sukiyaki rice bowl for $388).
The Wagyu don was delicious: thin, tender, sweet slices of just barely cooked top-notch beef, made even more luxurious with the addition of an oozing poached egg, grilled tofu and thick onion rings. The accompanying mixed salad was a bit of an afterthought, but the steamed egg custard (chawanmushi) was a well-executed cup of savoury, eggy goodness.
The humble Dattan soba, served traditionally as naked strands of cold buckwheat noodles along with a dashi-based dipping sauce, was simple and did the trick. Accompanying the soba were three frankly bizarre items: macaroni salad (difficult to eat with chopsticks!), chicken tempura (which seemed pointless to us) and two grilled chicken onigiri – these were bland and we were puzzled by the lack of chicken inside the rice balls.
From the à la carte menu, we went with a few of the suggested signature items. The Japanese tomato with yogurt in new caprese style ($78) was definitely different. We enjoyed the elements separately – yuzu jelly, Japanese tomatoes that popped with sweetness and small yoghurt balls fashioned like bocconcini – but when eaten together, the yuzu overwhelmed the other, more delicate flavours.
The chicken breast in three flavours ($35 for a tiny skewer) went down just fine but was nothing to write home about. Oh, but in case you’re wondering, the three “flavours” are spicy pepper, plum with shiso and wasabi.
The recommended dessert – black sesame panna cotta with matcha syrup ($78) – highlighted two of Japan’s dessert powerhouses, green tea and sesame. We wish there had been less of the intense matcha syrup draped over the panna cotta, which was absolutely lovely with its textbook-perfect creaminess.
Though nothing wowed us at Yakimon, it’s a solid new opening in Central that makes for a good choice when you’re looking for a Japanese all-rounder that strikes a fine balance between traditional and novel.
3/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2896 1838
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.