J is for Japanese!
Jazz / Jet Skiing / Jousting?! / (Bungee) Jumping
Not going to lie, I think this is one of my favourite alphabet dates yet! I've been dying to visit Yatai Izakaya for so long, and the letter J was the perfect excuse. Yatai is a fab independent Japanese eatery in the centre of Aberdeen, tucked away next to Orchid on Langstane Place. The fact that it coincided with our first wedding anniversary just sealed the deal.
A toast to our first year of married life - a light and fruity prosecco for me and Yatai's very own beer, made with a little help from local brewers Six Degrees North. He tried both the Yuzu wheat beer and the Buddha IPA, which was his favourite. It's brewed with Buddha's Hand - the same Asian citrus fruit used in Porter's gin!
At Yatai they offer something known as Omakase. It's an authentic Japanese style of dining where you set the price, let them know your likes and dislikes, and the Yatai team will bring you a selection of dishes to share. The entire menu is designed for sharing but this is a great way to try something new that you maybe wouldn't choose yourself. If you're new to Yatai I'd definitely go omakase!
We set our budget at £40 per person, with no idea how much food to expect for this. I'd say it was the right amount - dish after dish just kept appearing at our table! First up was the pork belly skewers with mustard miso. What a way to start, we were hooked!
Gordon was wary of the sushi but after a chat with owner Nadine he decided he'd give it a go, minus the raw fish! We enjoyed a whole table full of makizushi - he's officially a sushi fan! The soft shell crab was the one for me, and we certainly enjoyed a kick from the wasabi paste on the side.
Two rounds of dumplings made their way to our table - a steamed beef version and my personal favourite, the deep fried spicy pork. Yatai actually grow all their own herbs and salad leaves, and make the most of the freshest seasonal products on their specials board.
The tempura prawn was good but I can't say I'd order it again. One dish I didn't expect to be blown away by was the deep fried soy and ginger chicken. Oh how wrong was I? It was perfectly crispy and so full of flavour!
They saved the best for last and I was struggling by this point. Tender beef strips cooked medium rare, served with caramelised onion and a plate of the most fantastic black pepper teriyaki pork ribs. I only managed one rib, he demolished the other three!
Full as I was, dessert still tempted me. A choice of sorbets or chocolate truffles were a perfectly light but sweet way to finish. We opted for the rhubarb and elderflower sorbet over the black sesame seed. It was delicious and combined with the sweet dark chocolate of the berry truffles it reminded me of the vegan raspberry torte and sorbet from our wedding day. How very fitting for our anniversary meal.
It was a tough decision between a post dinner lie down or drinks, but Orchid won! Luckily we only had to roll next door to enjoy an evening of cocktails, live music and dancing. Just like our wedding night!
Yatai Izakaya is officially my new favourite restaurant. It was hands down one of the best meals I've had in the Granite City, and I can't wait to return!