As you probably know by now, the creators of Woktastic, a noodle and sushi bar previously based in Paradise Forum, opened their much awaited second branch of their sister chain Yakinori in Grand Central today. Their first location is in Selly Oak, which we’ve already tried, so we of course rushed along to the grand opening today.
For those who don’t yet know, Yakinori serves authentic Japanese cuisine including noodles, sushi, bento, tempura, teriyaki, ramen, teppanyaki, donburi, chicken katsu and okonomiyaki.
Yakinori in Grand Central is based in unit 4, next to the Handmade Burger Co.. The restaurant has cute cartoon motifs ruining through it, like the Selly Oak restaurant, with the kitchen right in the centre with bar seating around it allowing you to watch your food being cooked from scratch. Seating is limited, but thinking of other small independents (such as 4023) this won’t be an issue, especially since the Yakinori express options are an excellent choice for those on the go. (And excellent value too!)
Admittedly we arrived a bit early and were one of the first queueing outside before they opened. We were greeted by the ever so friendly Ali, and were sat right in front of the sushi chef. Having been before and wanting to try something different to what we chose last time, we already knew exactly what we were going to order from the menu, so placed our orders immediately.
For starter we chose to split a portion of Kabocha Pumpkin, Japanese pumpkin croquettes coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, topped with tonkatsu sauce on a bed of salad. Since we were one of the first to place our order and the chefs were on the ball, we got our starter in less than one and a half minutes (as a batch had just been taken out of the frier for the express counter), which is undoubtedly the quickest we’ve ever got a plate of food. The pumpkin was absolutely beautiful, lovely and soft on the inside and beautifully crisp on the outside, undoubtedly one of our favourite Japanese dishes. (One of the chefs took our orders initially to speed up the process, however through a spot of mis-communication two portions were cooked, so Ali very generously gave it to us on the house.)
For main course I chose the Aromatic Duck Teppanyaki with udon noodles. The dish came with grilled noodles and crispy shredded duck breast with lotus roots, pak-choi, beansprouts, menma, ginger and green beans, all served in a fragrant plum sauce topped with roasted sesame seeds. I was very pleased to have a choice of noodles given, because I’ve grown to love udon noodles so dearly. The whole dish tasted beautiful, with the lovely aromatic plum sauce coming through beautiful udon and vegetables. The star of the show however was undoubtedly the duck. It was absolutely divine; beautifully crispy on the outside and lovely and soft on the inside.
For her main course she chose the Yasai Kokonatsu, which she had wanted to order on our visit to the Selly Oak branch. The spicy coconut curry made with green curry paste, as well as lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic and spinach which contributed to the lovely vibrant green colour of the curry. Mixed in the sauce were onions, asparagus, golden tofu, mangetouts, aubergine, courgette, pak-choi and peppers all alongside an impressively large mound of sticky rice. (There were so many components to this dish that I’m almost a tad ashamed by how simple our homemade ones seem in comparison!) The curry was definitely our favourite dish of the visit, it had a definite spicy kick but we couldn’t get enough of it; it was so delicious. I was also very impressed by the sheer size of the portion as well as the volume of vegetables in the curry, especially how much asparagus it contained as asparagus is one of her favourites.
Our visit to Yakinori in Grand Central was an amazing experience, with all of the staff being calm and collected even during this busy time. We’ve got no excuse not to return soon to try out more of their dishes and the express options, now that Yakinori is right in the heart of the city!