Having spent a couple of weeks in Japan last year, I’m a huge fan of Japanese food. It’s simple, tasty, and usually very quick. I’d been hearing great things about Yatai Izakaya in Aberdeen for a while, but despite being an Aberdonian living in Glasgow, I had never quite made it there. So when making plans to visit a friend in the city, I jumped at the chance to visit and try out all their tasty delights.
After a long train journey up to Aberdeen, and a couple of glasses of prosecco as we got dressed up, I was starving by the time we reached the restaurant. It’s a fairly unassuming place that you really would miss if you blinked. Inside is a different story though. Dark walls are adorned with Japanese art, sake bottles, and flags, giving it a really authentic feel. We were sat upstairs where the bamboo shutters were open to the streets. The Japanese are famous for being polite, and despite only seeing Scottish staff, they were really lovely as we entered, seemingly delighted to see us. Just like being in Japan.
Carrying on the evening’s wine theme, we opted for a bottle of white to drink as we checked out the menu. Looking at the selections of sushi, sashimi, seafood, and meats, I was at a bit of a loss. Until my friend suggested we try “omakasi”. This puts the choices for your dinner in the hands of your waiter and chef; you tell them your budget, your likes and dislikes, and they create a menu perfectly tailored to your needs. Sounded perfect.
The waiter popped down some salty, crunchy edamame beans for us to nibble on, and soon dishes started arriving. First was haggis gyozas, the most delicious complement of Scottish and Japanese food I’ve ever had. Salty and gooey, they came with a green dip that had more than a hint of lime. Then came deep fried, soft shell crab maki and tuna maki, which were almost too pretty and colourful to eat, but well worth it when I did.
Being a non-fish eater (in a Japanese restaurant……) my friend was horrified by the appearance of some white fish sashimi. I, however, was delighted as it meant all the more for me. I can’t remember exactly what fish it was, (there was a lot of dishes ok?) but it was silky and delicious, with a lovely citrusy soy sauce for dipping and super spicy wasabi on the side.
Last to arrive were pork belly skewers with Japanese mustard. These were the perfect ending to the meal, not too heavy as we were already pretty full, but really tasty with the mustard giving them a nice bite.
Throughout our whole meal, the guy who served us was lovely. He was attentive and explained each dish as it arrived, ensuring we were happy with what we were given, and that our glasses were always topped up.