Entering Yamato’s is going into a different world: a warren of rooms with a buzz of conversations and activity. We were seated immediately in a private corner, soon to be joined at table by two other couples. It was fun to have company for this dining experience.
We had to test their Saki, which was fine but served a little lukewarm for our taste. Then we went for the Sushi appetizer, which is 5 types of fish on sushi rice. Fish was fresh, including the salmon, which is the “true test” of sushi according to my friend. The wasabi was very good, but milder than expected (perfect for cowards like me, but perhaps less than a braver diner would prefer).
The menu is simple and straightforward. To taste a variety, for entree my friend chose Yakimiki (marinated sirloin steak) and I selected Shrimp Flambe. Salad came with each meal and arrived in a small portion but quite fresh, with a light ginger-y dressing. We were also served Miso soup, which was as good as any we’ve had but a smidgeon watery.
When the chef came to the table he put on quite a show, entertaining us all as he prepared ingredients for cooking as we sat around the grill. (The ventilation in the place is excellent, especially considering that so much cooking happens in the dining area.) He dramatically prepared vegetables, fried rice, shrimp and steak dishes for seven diners within the span of 10-15 minutes, all the while keeping a running commentary going. The pièce de résistance was the smoking “volcano” he created out of a stack of onion rings. Lots of flambé-ing happens during all this cooking, in case you are flame-avoidant.
The steak we had selected was thin sliced and tender, and was accompanied by grilled vegetables and fried rice. All delicious. The shrimp came with broccoli and mushrooms and was done perfectly with a salty-spicy flavor. All vegetables were tender-crisp and fresh. There was ginger sauce for the vegetables, and separate sauce for the meats. Servings were generous. Our chef, not to cause any of us to feel left out, gave us small portions of the dishes we did not order. Maybe that’s inducement to return.
Of course we had to try dessert. They offer several types of ice cream. They were out of Plum Wine, our first choice, so we went with Green Tea and Red Bean. The names cannot describe the subtle flavors of these ice creams. The Green Tea was like a sweet light sherbet, and the Red Bean was rich and substantive, but not as sweet.
Our dining experience at Yamato’s was fun, casual, and satisfying. The staff were uniformly friendly and polite, and our chef was something else altogether. This is a great family restaurant if you like to be entertained by your food. And the prices won’t break the bank. Overall, we were delighted by our visit and recommend the place highly.