As you can see, once you enter the vicinity of the restaurant, it's amost as if you've stepped into a modern Japanese village. The decor is uber cool and funky, with graffiti clad poles and Japanese signage hanging in assorted heights. The bright pops of colour mixed in with the traditional bamboo-like structure and paper lanterns works really well against each other, setting up a fun but casual ambience. There's bar stool dining areas as well as table seats - essentially a perfect location for catchups with friends over some drinks.
On our first visit, we sat at the counter tops facing the kitchen and watching all the chefs in action.
Similar to restaurants like Mizuya and Wagaya, you order your dishes on a screen however Yebisu uses an iPad and so the buttons are very sensitive. Don't go too crazy on it or you might end up ordering a whole bunch without even realising.
There's quite a wide variety of choices, ranging from entress to yakitori grills, sushi and sashimi, hot pot, rice, noodle, deep fried to dessert and drinks...etc. The alcohol/cocktails menu is also very extensive, so as I had mentioned before, great place for after-work drinks.
We start off with some Takoyaki with White Sauce ($12.80) which came in a mini hot plate, sizzling with creamy aromas. It was slathered with melting cheese and capsicum strips, which was quite interesting. The edges of the takoyaki balls were beautifully crispy with a hearty but mushy filling of the usual octopus goodness. M loved the extra kick of cheesiness however it was just a tad bit too heavy for me.
Next up was the classic Aburi Mix Sushi ($14.80) with the usuals making an appearance - the good old Salmon, Scallop and Kingfish super trio. Absolutely loved all of them! Seared with a slight charcoal burn and seasoned with spring onions and mayo, these were delish and must be demolished ASAP because trust me, they ain't good when they're cold.
One of my favourite orders on our second visist was the Pan Fried Prawn Gyoza ($7.80). The filling was beyond soft and pillowy and oh god all that juicy prawn bits! The dish comes sizzling upon being served and you get to choose between Ponzu or Teriyaki Sauce. We chose the former and t'was a good choice - a little tangy but flavoursome all the same. It was so good that I forced M to let me have the extra one!
M ordered the Chicken Skin Yakitori Stick ($2.80 - left) whilst I opted for the Chicken Thigh ($2.80 -right), both in Teriyaki Sauce. I absolutely hated M's choice because it was literally all fat and oil but he was devouring it with so much joy. I much preferred my yummy chicken thigh glazed in its teriyaki goodness :P We also ordered Rice ($2.80) to go with some of our dishes and to properly fill our bellies.
Unfortunately, the Yebisu Omelette Rice ($14.80) was a bit of a disappointment for both of us. The presentation looks great however they had put way too much tomato sauce on top and it ended up overpowering the entire dish and its flavours. At first M loved it as there were bits of pork here and there and the omelette was deliriously soft and puffy...however he did admit that towards the end the excess tomato sauce flavour got a bit sickening.
The Grilled Wagyu Beef Steak ($24.80) was cooked beautifully as medium rare and was really juicy and tender. We loved the boost in flavour from the tasty marinated sauce and the nice addition of potato salad and bean sprouts on the side. Not bad!
The Deep Fried Prawn Roll ($8.80) was also a favourite of mine. The ebi prawn fry had the most glorious looking golden crunch and once you bit into it, it did not disappoint. Sensationally crunchy and tasty with the soft prawn meat encased inside, you dip it into a tartare-like sauce for a hint of extra flavour. The rice was also very fresh and in proportion to the filling, which deserves two thumbs up!
The Grilled Beef Tongue ($12.80) was a massive letdown, even more so than the omelette rice. The beef tongue was super thick and tough - you wound up chewing forever. The seasoning was also very bland and we had to use sauces from our other dishes in an attempt to make up for it however on the whole it was just not good.
Thank god for the classic options that never ceases to please. The Karaage Chicken ($8.80) was a dish of tasty morsels in all its fried glory. Some may say that ordering karaage is boring but we say it's the smart way to go. I loved that apart from the addictive Japanese mayo, they also give you sweet chilli, which turned out to be really nice with the chicken. The batter was quite oily and thick but on the whole, very tender and delicious. Perfect with the rice!
What's 9 dishes and no dessert? Absolute craziness.
The Earl Grey Brulee ($5.80) was infused with the scents from the tea and was quite unique in flavour As always with creme brulees, the highlight is when you crack open the hard caramel before indulging in the rich custard base. There was quite a strong burnt cream flavour from this but it was decent - not too sweet and not too bitter.
Overall Yebisu wasn't too bad - nothing shockingly special but quite a decent place for casual dining. Because the proportions are not exactly humungous, it can start to get pricy when you continuosly press order without checking the bill page. I would suggest coming here with more than two people so that you can try out a range of tapas-like dishes from the extensive menu.
I absolutely love the funky decor and the buzzing atmosphere. I think this whole fusion appeal is not only showcased via their interiors but also reflected on the menu. For example, we had seen dishes titled "Thai Fried Chicken Wings", "Steamed Dumplings" and "Tom Yum Goon Sushi Roll". It seems as though this new Japanese joint is inspired by other South East Asian flavours. If I do visit again, I definitely want to try them out.
Service was relatively fast and friendly, especially if you come early. I think anytime later than 6:30, you're likely to be waiting in a line.
How pretty are the table seatings inside? I was lucky enough to capture these photos as we arrived when it opened for dinner and no one else had arrived yet. They have a short break in between Lunch and Dinner, with the latter starting at 5:30pm if I am correct.
Honestly I love the new Regents Place! It used to be quite a dead area but now it's always buzzing with people thanks to all these new restuarants opening up - especially the abundance of Japanese options. Some of the other eateries in this area include Chanoma Cafe, Tenkomori Ramen, Senyai Thai, Assembly Bar, Miss Chu & Chefs Gallery...etc. If you haven't been, make sure you pop by next time you're catching a movie at George St Event Cinemas or if you're simply in the Town Hall vicinity but be there early otherwise you'll end up lining up for most of these new restaurants!
501 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
02 9266 0301