It’s easy to see why Regent Place is quickly becoming known as a bit of a Japantown these days and the newly opened Yebisu Izakaya only adds to that vibe, with its myriad of random bright Japanese signs hanging outside making it impossible to miss. Yebisu Izakaya has replaced the old Azuma Kushiyaki and has completely changed the decor of the place, adding graffiti on its walls and a row of noodle bar style bench seating outside the kitchen to create a funky, casual ambience. Inside the restaurant itself, there’s group tables available and I’m glad we booked for our party of 8 because the queue for tables was quite long even around 8pm on a Thursday night. We were seated in a corner table and found that the spot got a bit warm after awhile from the hot light shining on our wooden table.
There’s an extensive menu of grilled skewers with all sorts of meats as well as the usual suspects of sushi, rice dishes and noodles on offer too. The restaurant has an efficient built in iPad ordering system, reminiscent of other Japanese eateries like Wagaya and Mizuya and in no time we got our orders in with the kitchen. First came the adorable little Tako Sen which is a classic takoyaki ball sandwiched between two thin orange coloured senbei (crackers), with sprinkles of bonito fish flakes and lashings of takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. It’s a bit hard to eat but pick it up delicately with your hands and treat it like a tasty mini sandwich! A great little way to kick off our meal.
Tako sen, $2.80
Next up was the Chawanmushi which is a steamed egg custard with mushrooms, shallots and some broth all served in a little pot. This was a bit of a disappointing dish because the egg wasn’t steamed particularly well and the liquid to custard ratio was a bit off.
We had a bit more luck with the grilled skewers – I enjoyed the Salmon Belly Skewer with salt which also came with a teriyaki sauce. You can’t really go wrong with salmon belly, which has all those lovely fatty melt in your mouth flavours when it is cooked right so that it is soft and moist inside. We had also ordered Whiting Tempura with yukari and while the batter was light and crispy, I was not a fan at all of all the little bones inside the whiting.
Salmon Belly Skewer with salt $4.80
Whiting Tempura with yukari, $7.80
For a more substantial dish to pad our stomachs with, we had also ordered the Scallop and Garlic Fried Rice. We ordered a large one to share between 2 and it turned out to be a rather generous portion for us to share. I was quite pleased to see that they had actually tossed in a few visible scallops which were decently sized and the tastiness of the fried rice seasoned with a liberal amount of garlic was a winner in my books.
Scallop and garlic fried rice, large $19.80
After polishing off all those savoury dishes, we were keen to try some desserts and settled on the delicious sounding Earl Grey Brulee…which turned out to be an almighty disappointment when it was brought out to us. I had an inkling that things weren’t quite right when I tapped the back of my spoon on the “caramelised” sugar top layer and didn’t hear or feel a crack – although it looked like it had been blasted with a blowtorch, it was nowhere near caramelised and was rather soggy actually. Strike one. On my first bite of the custardy innards, it was clear that this wasn’t a brulee as I knew it – extremely eggy, to the point that it was almost inedible and no hint of the earl grey tea it promised in its name. Strike two and three. I rarely make a scene at restaurants if food isn’t up to scratch unless it is absolutely necessary – but this time I did end up asking for it to be sent back to the kitchen and taken off the bill, as we had no intention of eating it.
Earl Grey Brulee $5.80
In terms of drinks at Yebisu Izakaya, they do take them a bit more seriously than some other Japanese restaurants and they have a sake trolley that is pushed around by a waitress, stewardess style or if you prefer beers, there’s a whole range of Japanese craft beers on offer too from different regions of Japan. The boy chose to try an Imperial Red Ale and liked it, although it had a relatively hefty price tag for a beer.
Imperial Red Ale, $13
Although the massive queues outside the restaurant may lead you to think that Yebisu Izakaya is the new golden child of Regent Place, it was a bit hit and miss for me when I went and there are better options in the area if you are looking for a tasty and cheap Japanese meal.
Shop 7-10, Regent Place
501 George Street, Sydney New South Wales 2000
Phone: (02) 9266 0301