Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Yuu Wanchai - very tasty casual Japanese fare

I'm sorry to say, but sometimes I'm really, really lazy and can't be bothered looking for new restaurants to try.  I know, shock horror, I'm a food blogger and it's my job to inform you of the latest and greatest; blah blah blah.

I'm also at heart a creature of habit and love going to a familiar place and having comfort food that is simple and I don't have to think about it.  Lately, that place has been le Relais de l'entrecĂ´te (see post here) and we've been eating there a lot!  Unfortunately, the girl gets a fed up by going to the same spot a little easier than me, so I've been forced to find a new local spot that we can frequent when feeling lazy.

SC had visited The Yuu Japanese restaurant while I'd been away travelling and had been pestering me suggesting that we visit together, so I finally bit the bullet and agreed to walk across the street to check the place out.

The Yuu Japanese Restaurant is part of a chain and there are a few located throughout Hong Kong, but the Wanchai outlet is literally across the street from our place and couldn't be easier to get to.  A few minutes after leaving our building, we found ourselves seated at the bar area at The Yuu that overlooked the staging area for most of the restaurant's food preparation.  After were treated to a half hearted Japanese welcome of 'irasshaimase', we were given a thick menu that had an extremely wide range of Japanese fare and accompanying pictures - making it easy to see what you'd be ordering and not relying on titles alone.

We went a little crazy ordering food, and with hindsight, we probably ordered one or two dishes too many, but I really wanted to get a good cross selection of the Yuu's offerings; plus, I was really, really hungry.  The girl's Kirin beer arrived first up, but shortly after, a procession of fairly traditional Japanese fare started to arrive too.

First up was the sashimi platter, a pretty looking plate that came with plenty of prawns, scallops, the ubiquitous yellowtail that's everywhere in HK, salmon and tuna.  I've been a bit sketchy with sashimi since landing in HK, with some very ordinary experiences that have led to numerous bouts of food poisoning.  The Yuu sashimi platter was super fresh, the raw seafood tasting sweet, in particular the prawns and tuna.  Each of the sashimi pieces was lovely, and once dipped into some soy sauce, were the perfect start to our meal.

Keeping with the largely raw fish, our next dish was the tuna tataki, which looked quite lovely on the plate with the lightly cooked tuna fanned out around some pickled vegetables and doused in a lovely ponzu sauce.  I found the tuna to be fresh, the light sear on the outside providing some additional texture and quite tasty, especially thanks to the ponzu.  While the dish was quite tasty, it was not the best example of a tuna tataki I'd had, the grade of tuna could have been a little higher for my liking.  it was a solid dish that had a little room for improvement.

My favourite dish of the night was next, more than making up for the average tuna tataki.  The light burn salmon with a creamy sesame sauce looked incredibly appetising; a generous serving of lightly seared salon presented in a vibrant blue bowl and swimming in a liberal helping of the sesame sauce. The sweetness of the salmon was lovely, but to be honest, it was that sauce that really excited me.  The flavour was intense and I simply couldn't get enough of it into my mouth and dipping the salmon into the sauce with chopsticks just didn't get enough into my mouth!  I really could have used a spoon to finish it off!  Yum!

Gyoza was next, the traditional pan fried Japanese style pork dumplings a welcome change from our usual Shanghai style soup dumplings.  We used to eat a lot of gyoza back in Australia, before being introduced to Din Tai Fung, but it's good to know that a solid version of the pork dumplings can be sourced just across the street.  I loved the caramelisation of the dumpling casings and the sweet pork interior was lovely, especially when dipped in some tangy soy sauce!

One of our few vegetarian dishes arrived next, the barbecued sweet corn was lovely.  Such a simple dish doesn't need to be explained, but we definitely enjoyed the simplicity of the corn and the slight caramelisation from the cooking process.

Our second tataki dish of the night arrived, this time the beef tataki.  Very thinly sliced pieces of beef were placed on a bed of pickled onions, which were doused in that lovely ponzu sauce that characterises a good tataki.  I have to say that while I did enjoy the simplicity of the beef in ponzu sauce, I found the overall dish to be a little bland and not the best example of tataki I've eaten.  I guess I'm always comparing beef tataki to my gold standard, which was from a restaurant in Brisbane where the beef tataki was quite mind blowing (see post here). 

It was time for our tempura to come out, which it has to be said was excellent, in particular the Hokkaido crab tempura.  The crab was scrumptious, the sweet flesh covered in a light tempura was even better when dipped in the salt and sauce provided.  The Yuu offered quite a lot of variety for the tempura, but I stuck to the crab and asparagus, while the girl also added some sweet potato to her pile.

By the time we'd finished the tempura, we were pretty darn stuffed.  While we'd had a really good cross selection of the food on offer from The Yuu, there were still so many options left on the menu for us to sample, it would take us quite some time to work though.  And work through them we most certainly will.  The proximity of the restaurant to our apartment and the quality of the food (at a reasonable price) means that we've found another of those 'brainless' choices for dinner.  A place where we can go without thinking and get a good feed.

It was fun sitting at the bar watching our food get prepared by the team of chefs working the counter. I always say that the bar seats are the best in any restaurant, but if bar seating is not your thing, there are plenty of traditional tables in the quite large space that makes up The Yuu.  Interestingly, once you step inside the restaurant, you're transported to Japan; the traditional wood fit-out is definitely Japanese.

Even though our welcome was half hearted and not the traditional raucous version of 'irasshaimase', service was good for our visit.  Food kept coming at regular intervals, but even more importantly, our empty plates were taken away, leaving us plenty of space to dig in to the mostly tasty Japanese cuisine.

Yeah, I think we'll be back pretty soon.

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