Perched at the top of Park Street, the recently opened Yakinori is one of the newest restaurants on Bristol’s scene. An independent (we love an independent in Bristol) taking the place of where a Starbucks used to be, Yakinori offers a vast range of Japanese dishes for lunch and dinner. We popped along one chilly night to see what they had to offer…
The restaurant is divided into two parts with a takeaway counter at the entrance offering readymade sushi boxes etc. for lunch and further back tables and chairs for a sit down dinner. It’s bright and colourful and features an open kitchen in the centre so you can see the chefs hard at work. I loved this as; 1. Who doesn’t love a good nose? And 2. The smell from the sizzling woks was incredible! There are seats along the kitchen counter if you really want to feel like part of the action.
We kicked things off with an Ashai super dry beer for Mr TGE (deemed too dry to have on its own but perfect with food) and a bubble tea for me. The bubble tea craze rather passed me by so I had to shyly admit to the waitress that I didn’t quite know how to order one. With a bit of assistance I plumped for a fruity passion fruit green tea with blueberry juice balls served cold. Admittedly it didn’t photograph particularly well but it was rather delicious, sweet and refreshing.
We studied the impressively large menu before deciding on a couple of starters – shichimi chilli calamari (£5.57) for Mr TGE and ebu katsu tiger prawns (£6.50) for me. Served sizzling hot both starters were a generous portion and we felt good value for money. My prawns were plump and tasty, though I did find the panko breadcrumb batter slightly greasy. The tonkatsu sauce drizzled over the prawns was lovely but subtle and I ended up raiding the sweet chili sauce that came with Mr TGE’s calamari to add an additional kick. Mr TGE’s calamari was declared an absolute success – the batter was incredible light and delicate, not greasy at all. The squid was fresh and cooked just the right amount so it didn’t wander into chewy territory. We both absolutely loved the dish of fresh chili sauce it was served with, so much so that the kitchen brought us another one!
We moved swiftly onto the main courses – so swiftly in fact that they were delivered the second the starters were finished. Mr TGE was thrilled by this as he was ravenous (despite the generously sized starter) and was also delighting in his new found appreciation for pickled ginger (supplied on each table) so wanted to keep that culinary adventure going. I probably could have done with a 5 minute break and had I realised the food would have come that quickly, would have requested one. Still, I didn’t feel too put out once I saw the beautiful sleek bento box presented before me…
I knew the second I looked at the menu that I would be trying a bento box, I love them. They’re the ultimate meal for someone who inevitably gets food envy as you get a bit of everything! There’s something just that extra bit special about having a special presentation box for your dinner as well. There’s a choice of 5 different types at Yakinori and I opted for the ‘beef yakiniku bento’ (£14.99) featuring stir fried beef and vegetables in teriyaki sauce, kabocha pumpkin, mixed sushi, Japanese pickles and sticky rice. It’s also served with miso soup which I happily slurped down and was pleased to find a hearty serving of wakame seaweed and tofu underneath the cloudy surface. The beef was beautifully cooked and full of teriyaki flavour while the vegetables retained the right amount of crunch. The sticky rice was lovely and light – just the right amount of ‘sticky’ to be scooped up fairly easily with chopsticks, even by an amateur. I absolutely loved the kabocha pumpkin – essentially Japanese pumpkin croquettes in crispy panko breadcrumbs – which were sweet and moreish. The sushi was also very tasty and I’m already planning to go back for a full platter at some stage! I asked the waitress before ordering if the fish used in the sushi had been frozen to -20C at least 24 hours before use (and therefore safe for pregnant ladies as any possible parasites are killed in the freezing process) and, not unfairly, she wasn’t entirely sure. She immediately checked with the manager who came over to personally explain the freezing process to me and the strict hygiene regulations so I was fully confident to order. Well done team!
Mr TGE was similarly impressed with his own main course of orange teriyaki salmon (£14.50) which was fresh and full of flavour. The orange flavour in the teriyaki came through nicely and again the vegetables kept the right amount of bite. The salmon portion was very generous and flaked apart pleasingly, I had a few mouthfuls and would be tempted to order it in future.
We finished out meals and sat, slightly food dazed, steeling ourselves to head back out into the cold night. The staff chatted happily to the quickly filling up tables around us and the manager made a point of saying hello to everyone. They’ve got it right with the service level – it’s warm and welcoming but not intrusive which gives a relaxed atmosphere. We briefly considered the desert menu but our appetites had been well and truly defeated by this stage, perhaps next time!
Please note: this meal was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review is shared with the venue before publication.