Venues

Yamato Japanese Restaurant

Yamato Japanese Restaurant
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  • Phone Number 011 268 0511
  • Location 198 Oxford Road, Illovo, Johannesburg
  • email info@yamato.co.za
  • Website URL http://www.yamato.co.za
  • Opening Hours

    Lunch: Monday to Thursday; Friday to Sunday 12noon - 2.30pm; 12noon - 3pm

    Dinner: Monday to Thursday; Friday to Saturday; Sunday 6pm - 9pm; 6pm - 9.45pm; 6pm - 9.30pm

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Cost
R400
Ambience
Comfy & casual
Food
Japanese, Sushi
Payment
Amex, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa

Critic's review

Jodi-Ann Pearton

Food
Yamato offers a very traditional Japanese menu with an amazing selection of dishes, all prepared from scratch. The meals are all authentic and extremely flavoursome, with offerings to keep the less adventurous as well as the Japanese dining connoisseur content. Every dish is packed with flavour, texture and aesthetic appeal. There is an exceptional sushi menu and it is highly recommended that at least one plate of sushi is ordered to experience the extremely high craftsmanship and quality of this at the establishment.

For the diners who are a little unsure or overwhelmed by the menu or for those who want a little bit of everything there are set menus. These include sushi platters or meals with a bit of everything. The bento menus are fabulous and give a great overall impression of the restaurant.

Off the à la carte menu, you can dine upon very authentic soups, salads, noodles and meat dishes. The edamame vegetable dish and the tuna salad are exceptional. The dumplings are well prepared and worth a try. Do not miss out on the buta kakuni, if you are a pork lover – crispy pork belly simmered in soya and mirin. The traditional menu is where all the fun happens. The Japanese noodles cannot be missed. Cha-shu ramen is out of this world – noodles and meat topped with a perfectly balanced and flavoursome broth. The Sukiyaki Don is also a bowl of perfection and it is highly recommended to add a side order of tempura to every meal. This is the perfect restaurant for sharing, so order a few dishes for the table and enjoy a bit of all of them for an amazing taste of Japan.

Drinks
A selection of local and international wines is on offer, as well as Japanese beverages to complement the meal. The restaurant offers beer, spirits and cold drinks as well.

Service
The service is very average. The wait staff are not very attentive and there is a lack of urgency. Expect to wait a while to be served and attended to. The staff at the front door are extremely casual, but the food is worth it.

Ambience
A rather austere and plain dining area. The ambience is created by the diners in the establishment and therefore it is a little boring when the restaurant is not full. The décor is basic and plain with a touch of Japanese heritage to create the experience.

And…
The restaurant is pricey, but if you're after great and authentic food it's worth it. Definitely share meals to experience more.

(September 2016)

Eat Out reviewers dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Click here to read our editorial policy.

  • Ambience
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  • Food
  • Gwynne Conlyn

    Food
    Yamato is a quiet, classic restaurant that’s highly respected for its quality, and frequented by those in the know. The ingredients are truly fresh; others are imported from the motherland and are therefore the real thing. This is an authentic local showcase of some of the best that Japanese cuisine offers. The menu is extensive and warrants a number of visits, especially for those not familiar with the variety and delicacy of Japanese cuisine. There are a la carte choices as well as set menus and dinner combos. Start with their mouth-watering Wakame (seaweed) salad, or share a selection of their famous flavour-packed dumplings (Gyoza), often made from rice flour, fried, then steamed and wrapped around fillings. Standouts include the pork dumplings and the excellent tempura choices. Their top-class sushi and maki also tempts the appetite. Favourite mains include their crispy chicken, as well as the oyster sauce beef with rice and egg on the side. The bento box, the Japanese-style lunch box, makes an ample for a meal for two. Here the composition changes daily.

    Drinks
    Sake comes in different varieties and quality and Yamato’s is very good, served hot or cold. There’s Japanese beer as well as a good wine list. Tea is also served.
    Service The servers are reasonably informed and do the job adequately.

    Ambience
    The food, as well as the open-plan sushi kitchen, creates the atmosphere in this smallish space.

    And …
    For those a little confused by the range of options and choices, try one of a number of tailored mini-menus, such as the Yamato Bento (excellent miso soup, sashimi, a vegetable dish, and delicious battered and deep-fried prawn, tempura and fried rice).

    (August 2015)

  • Gwynne Conlyn

    Yamato is a quiet, classic restaurant that’s highly respected for its quality, and frequented by those in the know. Its menu is an authentic local showcase of some of the best that Japanese cuisine offers.

    Food
    The ingredients used at Yamato are exceptionally fresh. Those not found locally are imported from the motherland and are therefore the real thing. The menu is extensive and warrants a number of visits, especially for those not familiar with the variety and delicacy of Japanese cuisine. There are à la carte choices as well as set menus and dinner combos. Start with their mouth-watering Wakame (seaweed) salad, or share a selection of their famous flavour-packed dumplings (Gyoza), often made from rice flour, fried, then steamed and wrapped around fillings. Standouts include the pork dumplings and the excellent tempura choices. Their top-class sushi and maki also tempts the taste buds. Favourite mains include the crispy chicken, as well as the oyster sauce beef with rice and egg on the side. The bento box – a Japanese-style lunch box the composition of which changes daily – makes an ample meal for two.

    Drinks
    Sake comes in different varieties – and qualities – and Yamato’s is very good – served hot or cold. There’s Japanese beer as well as a good wine list. Tea is also served.

    Service
    The servers are reasonably informed and do the job adequately.

    Ambience
    The food, as well as the open-plan sushi kitchen, creates the atmosphere in this smallish space.

    And …
    For those a little confused by the range of options and choices, try one of a number of tailored mini-menus, such as the Yamato Bento (excellent miso soup, sashimi, a vegetable dish, and delicious battered and deep-fried prawn tempura and fried rice).

  • Jodi-Ann Pearton

    Food
    The menu is extensive and authentic, with a large variety of Japanese and Asian food on offer. You might get stuck choosing between the ample sushi offering and the variety of authentic Japanese dishes.

    But definitely do not miss out on the hot, crisp tempura as a starter, or the Hana Chirashi box sushi, which is a bowl full of perfectly cooked sushi rice topped with avocado, tuna, salmon sashimi and Japanese mayo.

    The Miso Cha-Shu Ramen is also utterly divine: a steaming bowl of fragrant miso pork broth with homemade egg noodles, topped with sliced pork and spring onions. The flavours linger in your mouth long after you’ve finished. The portion is so big that you might be thinking of sharing – but only until that first bite... then you won’t want to! Another standout is the beef fillet teriyaki with crisp seasonal vegetables.

    Finish your meal with tapioca flavoured with coconut milk and served with fruit. The flavours in all the dishes come across beautifully. You will not be disappointed.

    Drinks 
    They offer a great wine list with some superb South African offerings as well as a good selection of Japanese sake and shōchū (Japanese liquor) to choose from. There is a reasonable selection of beers and spirits, as well.

    Service 
    Service is quick and efficient. The waiters are unfussy and there when you need them: no more, no less, nothing to complain about.

    Ambience
    The mood is decidedly austere and even a bit cold, with diners speaking in hushed tones. The décor is quite bland and there is no attempt at music to lighten the mood. Clearly, it’s the kind of place where the food is the star. The open sushi bar does make for a little bit of food theatre, and once the restaurant fills up the mood will become more relaxed.

    And…
    There are usually a lot of Japanese diners around – have a look at what they’ve ordered if you’re having trouble deciding!

    (August 2014)

  • Rupesh Kassen

    They’ve won numerous awards over the years for outstanding sushi, keeping the true art form alive with perfectly cooked and seasoned rice and fresh, precision-cut fish. Homemade egg noodles served with miso pork broth and topped with melt-in-your-mouth pork belly is the ultimate in comfort food. The wine list has some good options, not forgetting the sake. This cosy space is always filled to the brim with hungry diners. (Eat Out magazine 2014)
  • Food
    This has long been regarded as one of the city’s few traditional Japanese restaurants, offering everything from sushi to nabe mono (hot pots) and donburi mono (steamed rice with various toppings) as well as korokke, a Japanese-style croquette. There’s also boxed sushi, tempura and a variety of Japanese noodles. Leave space for green tea ice cream served with a sweet red bean paste.

    Wine
    A good if somewhat pricey wine list, with not many wines available by the glass. The sake, served both hot and cold, is worth trying with the food.

    Service
    Generally efficient, but there can be the odd wobble if the place is packed.

    Ambience
    Clean lines and unfussy, like the cuisine.

    And...
    The various set menus offer good value for money. (JW, October 2012)

User reviews

  • I was there last weekend for dinner with my mom. We were literally the only people seated in the restaurant but no one came to ask if we wanted to drink and we kept waiting because we couldn't get the waitress' attention and when we eventually had a waitress to order she left while I was mid sentence ordering our meals to go attend to people who had just walked into the restaurant. I have been eating here for more than 10 years and even before they moved to the new building but I have never had such an appalling service anywhere and I am not going back. I cannot comment on the food because we left and went to Japa to eat
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  • pathetic.ramen noodles??? two minute noodles. and some meat. R700 for noodles and sushi. they should pack up, go eat ramen in hong kong..' STAY AWAY!!!
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  • Have been to Yamato a few times in the first three months of 2015 and the food has been consistent. Consistently delicious! The Pork dumplings are my favourite, I confess just the thought of them makes me salivate. We have also of late been skipping the sushi menu in favour of some of the other more traditional Japanese dishes, like Agedashi Dofu (deep fried tofu), Oshinko (pickled veggies) and Buta Kakuni (pork belly). The Buta Kakuni is slowed cooked making it beautifully soft, melt in your mouth yum. If you are a big group and a red meat fan, I can recommend ordering Sukiyaki. This dish allows you to cook sliced rib eye, veggies and tofu in stock at your table to your liking. Shabu-Shabu is also a great option, you cook your meat, veg and tofu in a kelp soup. I am so looking forward to my next visit to Yamato and my next order of what I think are the best pork dumplings in Gauteng! Service is very slow.
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  • Service 1/10 Prices minus -10 /10 outrageous Food average Portions small Would not recommend to anyone
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  • While the sushi was fine, the grilled could only be described as average. The ambience has to score a round zero as my husband and I were the only customers after the other table with a yelling toddler left. Maybe to be fair, another visit is in order on a busier night.
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  • The worst dining out experience in Joburg ever! Booked a table for four, got there, our table was literally 5cm away from the table next to us. We might as well all have joined in on the couple's not so romantic date. There was no privacy at all...

    Took them 30 minutes to send a waitron over, then another 30 minutes before my friend's sushi came. I ordered hot plates that had to be cooked, it took over 1 hour to get those to the table. And all I ordered was seared slices of fillet and an eel lunch box. The eel was dry and scaly, so it wasn't even worth the wait at all.

    The food was way over priced. For the same amount we spent there we could've stuffed our faces with authentic Japanese food at Japa in Rivonia, or flew down to Cape Town and enjoy Papa-San's artful dishes at Takumi.

    And to top off the worst evening of my life, the waitron put items that we didn't order on the bill, which took her another 30 minutes to sort out.

    Never go there people, you have been warned!

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  • Bad service. Price excessive. They had a good run. Perhaps it will return. If you eat there expect a new Soth African experience.

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  • Having been regular visitors to Yamato, our most recent experience was so bad it will also be our last. We've been at least  "once a monthers" if not more regular diners at Yamato and have always enjoyed their food. They are expensive and service is generally hit and miss, but on Thursday last week it was not existant. About 15 minutes after we arrived a 'tour group" arrived too. After complaining our drinks order was eventually taken 30 minutes after we arrived. About 5 minutes later our food order was taken. About 15 minutes after we ordered our drinks I called the waiter over and told him we were going to have to leave if we didn't get our drinks so he went to see if they were poured. The owner then started to shout at him about getting the tour group's food to their tables. We then left. Obviously the loyalty of customers who've continued to support them through a move and then renovations in the centre where they are located is less important to the owners of Yamato than the quick buck of a tour group. What a shame to see.

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  • This restaurant despite being among the top in Johannesburg probably has the worst customer service I've ever experienced. Their online booking facility does not work properly as the restaurant does not contact you to let you know the status of your enquiry. As such, when you call they inform you they are fully booked when you had enquired well in advance. I am shocked that a restaurant that claims to be an exclusive Japanese dining spot is so disorganised.

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  • This was a family favourite where the sushi, tempura and noodles were always good. I'm sad to say that tonight we were disappointed on all counts. The tempura was thick slices of veg, no fish as promised on menu, chicken teriyaki very average and noodle broth lacking in flavour. Service was poor.

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  • I made a reservation for 13/4/12 @ 19.00 on 12/4/12, to celebrate our wedding anniversary and was told by the receptionist that all was in order. When we got there, our reservation could not be found and there was no reasonable table available for us. We were asked if we would mind sitting at a tiny table located in the middle of the restaurant, but we declined. The manager made us feel as if she doubted that we had in fact made a reservation and did not even offer an apology. Poor service and shoddy customer relationship.

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  • Now the ambience is not what it was. The service - there was none to speak of considering the price. The dinner - too expensive.

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  • Brilliant, quality food. Sushi is always fresh and the hotpots are a winner.

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  • Food was good, but completely ruined by the disinterested waiters. Definitely not wont be going there again. Jack up the service!
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  • The food is great.Has nice flavour and is fresh and above all great tasting.I had sushi which is a bit pricey but very nice.Go for the set menus for better value. The service is a bit lacking from the waiters side.But well worth a visit.
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  • Since the World Cup, the quality of service and food has deteriorated significantly. Service has become disinterested and as formerly regular customers this is insulting. No more for us.
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  • Well, I was at Norman Goodfellows wanting to buy some good Bavarian white wine and they still do not stock German wines. Inexplicable, but I was directed to the new premises of Yamato. Suffice to say that their products - salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardine, calamari and octopus which I ate in the form or suno mono and sashimi was of the highest standard. Japanese culinary practice allows for wide interpretation in the presentaton of most dishes. The chef was a little conservative in his arrangements but the food was a delight to eat and to top it all , the steak tartare was second only to La Colombe - in my opinion for taste complexity. Service was excellent. No, there was no Franken wine on the wine list, but not having German wines at a reputable bottle store is as quirky as not having soya sauce at a Japanese restaurant.
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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Functions
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Smoking
  • Takeaways
  • Vegetarian

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