LOTI EATS | YATAY
Ichibuns is out on Wardour Street and Japanese restaurant Yatay is in. The robatayaki restaurant, inspired by izakayas and street culture of Japan, has taken over the three-storey space in Chinatown, with the restaurant occupying the ground and first floor and cocktail bar Zoku in the basement. Not much has changed structurally – the open kitchen, with a robatayaki grill at its heart, still forms the centrepiece of the ground floor and the dining room remains upstairs.
You don’t have to go down to Zoku to get a taste of the cocktails; we had the tequila, yuzu, agave and jalapeno Nagoya Chicana along with some garlic and soy-coated padron peppers whilst checking out the menu. And it’s a broad menu, with bites, cold, hot, skewers, meat/fish and veggies/rice, on there so it’s worth taking your time over with a cocktail in hand. The skewers are the main focus but there are lots of tasty things to be found around those so its best to hit each section.
From the cold selection, we went for the beef tartare, which had a real nuttiness and depth thanks to the additions of sesame and garlic miso. Chef Marco Ardemagni used to work at Sushisamba (meaning he knows his fish) and the tuna tataki, with the lightest sear on the outside and a dressing of wasabi ponzu, was excellent. We can never turn down chicken karaage and Yatay’s version did not disappoint; rugged crispy nuggets of ginger-garlic chicken with a spicy tofu dip that actually delivered some heat. The pulled pork buns were also solid, with rich shredded meat in pillowy dough and a sprinkling of crispy shallots for texture.
There are twelve different skewers on the menu but if you can’t choose, Yatay has a six skewer roulette where the kitchen picks for you. We gambled with it and were rewarded with trout with kizami wasabi, koji-cured lamb, beef with ginger pepper lime sauce, roasted shallot with miso, cured beetroot with garlic, and heirloom tomato with yuzu koji basil. The veggie ones impressed us most as the flavours of the ingredients were really dialled up – the beetroot was earthy and savoury, the tomatoes were bright and sweet – much more so than on the meat ones.
The dry-aged beef ribeye with black garlic sauce fell flat in comparison to the skewers, the meat managed to be pink in the middle but really chewy and just didn’t live up to the promise or the price it showed on the menu, though the garlic miso tenderstem broccoli we got on the side was decent. Trying not to overdo it, we finished with a mochi selection but there are some interesting puds on the dessert menu, like miso cured ricotta with black sugar syrup, that sound like they’re worth a go.
If you order up a few drinks and stick to the small plates and skewers, there are some gems to be found at Yatay.
22 Wardour Street, London W1D 6QQ