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Yamato Japanese Restaurant

Yamato Japanese Restaurant
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Cost
R40 avg main meal
Ambience
Kids, Quick meals
Food
Japanese, Sushi
Payment
Amex, Diners Club, Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R50

Critic's review

Kate Liquorish

Opened in 1995, Yamato is one of the only remaining restaurants from the original Illovo Muse Centre. Tucked away in the back, it sits quietly but contentedly, opposite its boisterous and fabulous neighbours: Babylon and Beefcakes.

Food
Yamato is anything but trendy (the décor likely hasn’t changed in ten years), but people don’t go here to see and be seen, they go for the food: it’s authentic Japanese cuisine that promises no frills or fuss. The menu is extensive, so it’s best to ask for recommendations if you feel a little out of your depth.

The sushi is fantastic: expect top-quality fresh fish prepared with a delicate touch. The selection is wonderfully diverse, making it the restaurant’s biggest drawcard. (But quality comes at a price, so don’t expect conveyer belts or two-for-one specials.) Whilst you’ll find South African favourites like salmon roses, California rolls and fashion sandwiches, the focus is on more traditional variants like unagi (eel), tamago (omelette), tako (octopus), ika (calamari) and a range of delicious fish caviars, so push the boat out and try something different.

Tepanyaki and tempura are on offer, as well as a wonderful selection of starters that are great to share. One dish that is an absolute must-try is the agedashi dofu: blocks of deep-fried tofu served in a fish broth and topped with spring onion, fish flakes, grated ginger and radish – it’s the epitome of umami.

For mains you’ll find mainly deep-fried chicken, fish and pork dishes, some of which are fantastic. The crispy kingklip (goujons of fresh kingklip lightly battered in tempura and served with a sweet and salty dipping sauce) and the tonkatsu (a deep-fried pork cutlet) are two such wonders. But some mains do leave you wanting, especially those accompanied by deep-fried vegetables lathered in sweet sauces, so check before you order.

If you feel like a soulful bowl of something then try one of the Japanese noodle or rice bowls and, for the seriously hungry, opt to share one of the Nabe Monos (hot pots containing various soups/broths that are served with different meats, vegetables and tofu that you cook at the table yourself).

For dessert, they keep it simple with an assortment of ice creams and sorbets, a coconut milk tapioca pudding and a seasonal fruit platter.

Drinks
The usual selection of wines, spirits and beers. Wines are a little on the pricey side, but beer and saki work better with the cuisine in any case, so it’s best to stick to those. There are a few Japanese beers on offer, although at R70 a pop you may prefer to stay local.

Service
Most of the staff have been here a while so waiters are well-versed on the menu and great at explaining how to tackle each dish when it comes to things like mixing your own dipping sauces. Staff are friendly don’t go too far out of their way to please.

Ambience
The setting is minimal: splashes of black, red and white set the tone around simply set tables – it works. It’s not the kind of restaurant where you’re encouraged to while away the day; it closes between lunch and dinner service, so you’ll feel the impetus to get the bill shortly after dessert.

Best for…
Business lunches and casual dinners.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here

(August 2018)

  • Ambience
  • Service
  • Food
  • Steve Steinfeld

     

    Food
    Tucked away in the corner of Illovo Muse, this little unassuming restaurant is serving up what is arguably some of the most authentic Japanese cuisine in Johannesburg. Their extensive menu boasts everything from sashimi to soba, with an emphasis on the usage of traditional ingredients and technique.

    For starters, their gyoza dumplings – pan-fried – are beautifully textured. Sushi is their specialty and a definite ‘must-try’, the use of really beautiful produce such as gorgeous, generous pieces of salmon and beautiful slices of avocado justifying the high pricing.

    Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the pricy fillet steak main, which arrived slightly tough, accompanied by two little portions of deep-fried vegetables, and a smothering of teriyaki sauce which adds little flavour. Another option is to go for one of their platters or set menus, which include both sushi and sushi and hot dish combination options, allowing diners to get a taste of everything on offer. Finish off the meal with a green tea ice cream, with the option of a sweet bean paste topping.

    Drinks
    The list features Japanese Sake (rice wine) and Ume Shu (liqueuer) as well as a small but well-considered selection of red and white wines. Highlights include the imported William Fevre Chablis and the Creation Pinot Noir. For those looking for something stronger, a small selection of whisky, brandy, cognac and liqueurs are available too.

    Service
    The waiters, while not overly attentive, are friendly and helpful, happily able to give explanations, advice and recommendations on the menu and dishes, which is impressive considering the scope of the menu and range of traditional dishes on offer.

    Ambience
    The restaurant itself is rather plain with minimal décor and clean finishes. Small nods to the Japanese heritage and quirky chair designs and wood-like table clothes round up the look.

    And…
    This is also the place to try traditional Japanese dishes such as Nabe Mono – hot pots cooked at the table and Donburi Mono – a steamed rice dish served with miso soup and pickles.

    (October 2017)

    Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.

     

    • Ambience
    • Service
    • Food

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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    • Service
    • Food
  • 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!!!
    • Ambience
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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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