Yayoi Launch

Whenever I hear of Japanese food, I immediately think of sushi and sashimi. I had no idea that ‘teishoku’ is the more authentic and traditional food of Japan. Neither did I know that there is a rice called Kimne-gohan which is a polished white rice that retains the nutrition found in brown rice while still offering the sweet and rich taste found in white rice. Well, this type of food has been brought to Australia and Sydneysiders will be the first to experience it at a restaurant called YAYOI Japanese Teishoku Restaurant Sydney.

Yayoi was launched on 4 June 2014 at the former Wagamama site on the corner of Bridge and Loftus Street Sydney. Yayoi, which is known as Yayoi-ken in Asia, has 250 restaurants in Japan, 100 in Thailand, and five in Singapore. The first Yayoi-ken restaurant opened in Tokyo 120 years ago. It is owned by one of Japan’s largest food service operators, Plenus Co Ltd which serves more than 300 million meals in Japan alone through its Yayoiken and Hotto Motto restaurants.

The restaurant and sake bar seats 80 people and serves a menu crafted true to Japanese culinary tradition. Yayoi specialises in Japanese home-cooked style set meals called ‘teishoku’ – a meal that includes rice, miso soup, a main dish of meat or fish, and a side dish of vegetables or Japanese pickles. The restaurant also boasts an extensive range of sake and Japanese craft beers, many of which won’t have been seen before in Sydney.

The MC for the night was Japanese cookbook author, blogger and Japanese culinary tour leader, Jane Lawson. She was joined at the stage by a number of representatives from Plenus including the kitchen head of operations, Junya Kitano, who has had 15 years’ experience in Japan and abroad, including a number of years with Plenus Co Ltd, and sake master of the restaurant Kenji Minagawa who treated guests to a sake tasting and Q&A.

The highlight of the night was when Chief Operating Officer of Plenus Australia Pty Ltd David Coates, President and Representative Director of Plenus Co Ltd Tatsuo Shioi, Chief Executive Officer of Plenus Australia Pty Ltd Takeshi Tabuchi, former Australian Consul-General in Japan Wendy Holdenson and Chairman of Plenus Australia Pty Ltd Eric Barratt hammered open a sake barrel and got drenched with sake. Guest then got to drink the sake from wooden box like cups.

Special guests of the night were senior editor of Best Restaurants and former Channel 7 Australia My Kitchen Rules contestant Anna Lisle. host of the 2GB Chris Smith Afternoon Show Chris Smith, winner of My Kitchen Rules 2011 and co-editor of Sammy and Bella Bella Jakubiak, host of Everyday Gourmet and former MasterChef contestant Justine Schofield, former Masterchef and All Stars contestant Kumer Pereira, senior reporter and presenter with Channel Ten Matt Doran, Japanese ceramic artist and son of the former Prime Minister of Japan Morimitsu Hosokawa, executive chef of Sake Restaurant & Bar Shaun Presland, and head chef of Sake Restaurant and Bar Shimpei Hatanka.

Guests drank Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo sake, Urakasumi Jyunmai sake and Kuro Kirishima shochu. The menu of the night included items such as seared beef with asparagus, mini teriyaki hamburgers, karaage chicken, salmon teriyaki, mini sukiyaki don, matcha kuzu mochi with kuromitsu sauce, vegetarian agedashi tofu and Japanese agedashi tofu.

After attending two Japanese events in the last two weeks, I can truly say that the Japanese are one of the most hospitable people I have encountered. Not only did they make us feel very welcome, they also provided guests with a goodie bag containing a bowl made by ceramic artist Morimitsu Hosokawa, chop sticks and Kimne-gohan rice with instructions on how to cook it at home.

 — at Yayoi Sydney

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