Modern Japanese Restaurant Yahachi, Subiaco

The Japanese pop-punk-band Hi-Standard are a fine band and do swell covers of “Love is a Battlefield” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. They may also be responsible for a recollected interview. One of their members spent a fair part of his childhood in LA and speaks fluent English. He complained that reviewers are usually intensely disappointed at this. So he resorts to “We are bery excitement to meet you” and the interviewer is happy. Hence we come to Yahachi.

Yahachi is a Japanese restaurant and was set up from Japan by Japanese but it’s not what you’d expect as it’s a Western restaurant but it’s not really. You have to imagine a Tokyo restaurant making Western food but at risk of alienating its local clients, it sneaks in a Japanese ingredient here and there and has the equivalent of the steak and chips at the Chinese restaurant (anyone else remember the “Aussie” section of the menu?).

Yahachi sets itself up for failure because it’s not what people might expect in an obvious way and thus is a niche restaurant when Perth isn’t a big market but courts success by using local ingredients in a Japanese vernacular excellently.

Entree

Gang of four – wife, sister, birthday mum – so we went for a share of the hors’deurves for two and the mixed sashimi for two. The hors’deurves was a happy selection including rice croquette, cheese and garlic spring roll, and ball nigiri sushi. The sashimi was nannygai, pearl perch, and tuna. Althought the slices were on the small side, they were fresh and ambiently pleasant. Mum tried to separate two pieces, but finding that too hard, went for the pale green pile in the middle to a chorus of “noooooooh!”.

Main

Had a wave of nostalgia sweep over me and couldn’t bring myself to order the dhufush so settled for mixed tempura. It was as good as you could expect, not greasy of course, the batter was light, the crunchy bits crunchy and warm. A whole plate was little one dimensional just to work through and it could have been better shared or had with soba. As I side I had chawanmushi, which is a kind of savoury custard but try as I might, I still had trouble coming to terms with dashi custard with chicken and mushroom, it was like having vanilla soup. The standout was my sister’s “thrice-cooked pork” marvellous pieces of slow cooked pork with a hint of anise on pumpkin dumplings. My mum’s barramundi was plain and flavoursome and Toni’s hasami-age chicken was the best fried chicken she had ever had until I reminded her of my fried chicken.

Dessert

With imaginary sky salaryman smiling over my choice, I finished with pickles. I then nicked everyone else’s dessert. They didn’t bring the Japanese preference for small spongy cakes and the azuki bean and green tea ice cream was as traditional as the meringue was delicious.

Dou?

It was a great pleasure, and hard to fault anything as all was cooked as well as it could have been – I’ve rarely had vegetables so crunchy. It was quiet for a Tuesday night, which was very calming, and the decor with shoji like walls filled with different silk patterns had me routing joints in my mind. Not cheap, but mains were all south of $30. Well recommended.

Yahachi The Colonnade 388 Hay Street Subiaco 9388 8330

Japanese Treats in Perth: There’s an Hayao Miyazaki Film Festival in Freo from the 9th to the 18th. “My Neighbour Totoro” is one of the most wonderful films ever made, achieving childlike without being childish. Info at the Film and Television Institute.

Also – Takeshi Kitano‘s Zatoichi soon!

Disclaimer: Toyed with this for fear of name dropping but to keep my last shred of integrity, I should state that I am friends with the Japanese guy whose onerous job was to come over here a year or so ago, do market research at every good restaurant in Perth and then set Yahachi up. Rest assured though, that if it were shite, I would have kept the visit to myself. I am not friends with Miyazaki or Kitano.

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15 comments

  1. Anthony’s avatar

    Remarkably similar as the owner is a wealthy factory owner who sets up restaurants as a side business and gets my friend to do it. My friend first mentioned Japanese-Italian but I couldn’t see the point even though there are some exceptionally good Italian restaurants in Tokyo. Maybe they’re onto something in LA.

  2. Santos’s avatar

    there’s a japanese chain, capricciosa, which has a zillion franchises in japan, one in honolulu, and 3 on guam. it’s far more popular here than the “authentic” italian places. it’s sort of a japanese-italian-american(ish) joint. “ish” in that it’s a sort of japanese idea of what american is. that’s a low-rent version of this though i wonder if there are any branches out your way…?

  3. Anthony’s avatar

    I know cappriciosa and it wasn’t bad at all just a little on the family restaurant side (nothing wrong with that though). None here but I’d kill for a Mos or a Freshness Burger.
    Best one was an electronic engineer that gave up his job, spent a year in Naples and started an woodfired pizza restaurant in the burbs of Tokyo. It also made me laugh that soba and ramen shops were full of men and Italian restaurants full of women. I’d gently point this fact out to single Japanese men.

  4. tokyo goat’s avatar

    Ramen restaurants, for some time now, have become very fashionable places. Instead of single men or university students, courters, on a date, line up for +45 minutes for the chance to slurp down a bowl of “trendy”, sometimes over complicated, ramen. The ramen is consumed in less than 10 minutes and then they must leave. The time proportions seem a bit wrong but whos to know how long they were at it before or after. And they can mark it off in the famous place book.

  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Ah things move on. 10 minutes was a leisurely meal for me, as for “at it” -nudge nudge

    burogu de posuto shite kudasai – ramen shop, with crusty undersided gyoza washed down with a daijoki of Sapporo black label and I can come over and drool. Yoroshiku!

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    Hey just another point, when I was back last year and went to that young designer things over at Odaiba – I noticed a resurgence in trad Japanese, indigo was everywhere. Is this still going on, because it beat the shit out of of Bitton fetishism (purely from a selfish pigeon holing idealizer’s point of view of course).

  7. tokyo goat’s avatar

    the winter months, perfect for Tokyo ramen adventures, are on their way. Tempted, like many others, to make ramen a feature of my blog. Standby. Weathers a bit cooler today. Got my camera in my bag. The lady has a work function this evening. LET THE RAMEN BEGIN.

  8. Anthony’s avatar

    woohoo!

  9. Reid’s avatar

    Hi Anthony,

    It all sounds so yummy. For some reason, we seem to have a lot of Japanese franchises here in Hawaii….maybe it’s because of the number of Japanese tourists that we get. I always thought that there were a lot of Japanese visiting Australia as well, and would expect a lot more Japanese franchises there

  10. Anthony’s avatar

    Just a guess, most of the Japanese tourists here in Perth are your more frugal working-holiday visa types who you’re more likely to see at the markets buying cheap fruit and veg. As previous points though, could Aussies be sold on tiny tasty burgers over shite scottish and monarchical ones? Is it time to bring out the transistor radio?

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    Ha you bastard, that beer looks great, where was the shop?

  12. tokyo goat’s avatar

    In Ichigaya, near the office. I wasn’t overly famished so it wasn’t the greatest ramen ever but the place was a pretty class act. I plan to get a small table top tripod to tease and taunt you endlessly with regular trips to JYU and other fine Tokyo establishments.

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Be my guesto, that’d be a good thing. Table top tripod, good idea but I think that’d be grounds for divorce for me.

  14. Anonymous’s avatar

    Have you been to Pink Godzilla in Santa Tokyo ? They have surprising variety of rolled sushi, many of which are new to me. The restaurant is very innovative in the combination of different fish and vegetables.

    In fact, rolled sushi is very popular in Japan, especially the kind like avocado rolls, hot spicy tuna rolls, and many more complicated-named rolls, and has now been imported back to Japan as a hot trend. This is adding another page in the long history of sushi eating.

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