Yakinori, Park Street: Review

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Yakinori Bristol - Exterior


Today saw me heading up Park Street in the blazing sunshine to test out its newest restaurant offering in the form of Yakinori. This Japanese restaurant opened on Wednesday, July 5th, and was nice and busy on its opening day, with plenty of diners heading in to enjoy a Japanese meal to either eat in or take away.

With two existing restaurants in Birmingham and great TripAdvisor reviews, I was expecting good things from Yakinori, which bills itself as offering “superlative Japanese food”. It was time to find out how true this really was…

Step inside and the former Starbucks has been transformed to a bright and bustling casual restaurant. There’s a takeaway fridge at the front filled with cold drinks and sushi boxes, regularly replenished by the chefs, and another counter with multiple compartments ready to be filled with the components of other takeaway dishes, which wasn’t quite ready on the first day.

Step further inside and you’ll see the open plan kitchen on the right: a frantic environment with five chefs all hard at work slicing sashimi, rolling sushi, frying katsu chicken, coating and cooking tempura, plating noodles…there’s certainly always something happening. It’s a smart kitchen flanked with black tiling and topped with huge extraction units – much needed with so many fryers and hobs on the go.

The restaurant itself is a combination of gaudy Japanese and industrial in its style: the ceiling with its exposed metal pipework vies for attention with bold orange and green tables and stools, and huge comic-style wall murals. At the back, there’s a few tables in a secluded area, which would be great for private parties and a more intimate atmosphere, while there’s also a long counter along the front of the kitchen, which is where I chose to sit, affording me with a great view of the chefs hard at work.


Yakinori Bristol - Counter


On the tables, you’ll find plenty of soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi and chilli oil to accompany the huge variety of dishes on the Yakinori menu, which include sushi and sashimi, bento boxes, noodles, curries, grilled dishes…it’s an enormous menu, and it seems crazy that so many dishes can be prepared in such a tiny space. It did worry me slightly to see so many sushi rolls being crafted when I arrived and still out on the counter during my entire visit – you can never be too careful with raw fish – but I’m hoping that this was simply working out opening day logistics and that better storage will be considered in the future…

To get a bit of a taste of the menu, I ordered a chicken katsu bento box (£14.50), each of its five compartments promising something different, and served with a bowl of miso soup. There’s a huge choice when it comes to drinks too – while their alcohol licence hadn’t yet been granted on the first day and the bubble tea wasn’t yet available, there were plenty of fresh juices from which to choose, all of which looked very tempting indeed.

My choice? The “fruit and veg” juice (£3.50) with cucumber, spinach, apple and celery, which turned up with my miso soup. It was great to see that the ingredients had been freshly juiced, and it was beautifully cold with a refreshing fresh, green flavour, the cucumber and apple coming through the most strongly. The manager explained that they’d misplaced the straws, which wasn’t an issue until the juice had started to settle and split, and it would have been nice to have given it a stir…

The miso soup wasn’t steaming hot, but at a temperature that meant it was easy to drink straight away. The salty, savoury flavour was spot on, the sliced spring onion adding a lovely tang. You can’t see it in the picture below, but there was a crazy amount of seaweed in there too.


Yakinori Bristol - Miso Soup and Juice


And so, onto the main event – the bento box. This was served to my table with the lid still on, and a small dish in case I wanted soy sauce on the side. It was beautifully presented, the five compartments containing chicken katsu curry with sticky rice, grilled chicken gyoza, kabocha pumpkin, mixed sushi and, last but not least, a small selection of Japanese pickles.

The fiery pickled ginger-topped perfect dome of sticky rice was just right for mopping up the katsu curry sauce, which was rich and warming with a good amount of heat. The chicken? Perfectly tender, the well-seasoned crispy panko breadcrumb coating packing plenty of flavour.

The mixed sushi turned out to be a cucumber and a tuna maki roll, a salmon and avocado roll and a tamago nigiri. The rice had a good bite (but I think it could have been slightly better seasoned), while the fish itself tasted good and fresh. The rolls were beautifully made, and I’m a huge fan of the sweet, sticky Japanese omelettes known as tamago – beautiful.

The chicken gyoza were tasty enough, encased in their paper-thin wrappers: the chicken with a poached consistency, and the crunch of shredded greens. The texture wasn’t quite right, though – they’d clearly been steamed perfectly, but only incredibly lightly grilled – they could have done with a little longer. I’d have preferred the vinegary gyoza sauce in a separate pot rather than drizzled over the top too…but that’s probably just me being picky.

Finally, the Japanese pumpkin croquettes…which were amazing. The bento box contained one large croquette, split in two and drizzled with a sweet tonkatsu sauce. These deep-fried parcels were fantastic: crispy crunchy savoury crumb surrounding a perfectly smooth and sweet kabocha filling…I saved one half till last and almost treated it as dessert…


Yakinori Bristol - Chicken Katsu Bento


The whole bento box was a great contrast of flavours and textures, and a satisfying and filling lunch – which you’d expect for £14.50. It’s a fun environment in which to eat and food is prepared quickly, making it perfect for nearby workers looking for a quick bite on their lunchbreaks. While a vast menu often worries me, the fact that you can see the kitchen team preparing everything from scratch set my mind at ease.

My biggest worry was the sheer amount of sushi left out on the counter for half an hour or more…I’m hoping that next time I visit, there’ll be a system in place so that food safety is top of mind. I will be back, though – I’m a huge fan of Japanese food, and I have a lot of the menu left to work my way through…


Please note: our meal was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


One Response to Yakinori, Park Street: Review

  1. Pingback: Ebisu Restaurant, Regent Street, Weston: Review - Bristol Bites | Bristol Bites

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