I had the opportunity to go out for lunch with my friend Steve who was up visiting Aberdeen this week. Anyone who knows Aberdeen will be aware that pub grub is pretty much standard fare for those looking for a substantial lunch out in town. Undercooked and microwaved burgers just didn't appeal to us though, so we decided to visit Yatai, a tiny Japanese restaurant which opened about 18 months ago in the city. It also happens to be probably my favourite restaurant (yes, I might have slightly influenced the decision making process...)
We had not booked a table, something which it is worth doing if you wish to eat in a fairly popular restaurant which seats about 16-20 people. Thankfully, it was a sunny day and they had opened up their garden for lunch so we were able to get a table outside. Their menu is full of choices, with each page devoted to different types of dish: nigiri, zensai (small dishes), maki, etc. Those new to the restaurant can find themselves bewildered by the choice however the wait staff are very helpful and will recommend dishes to the uncertain diner.
Terry, Sarah and I each picked three dishes off the main menu which were all pretty fantastic. Sarah went for the tori no kara age (deep fried chicken thigh meat in a chilli, ginger and garlic marinade), inari zushi (tofu pouches stuffed with sushi rice) and tamagoyaki nigiri (sweet omelette on sushi rice), all of which I recommended to her since she was keen on being eased into the whole eating Japanese food situation. Terry and I also picked three dishes each off the menu. I found the three quite filling but I believe Terry would have preferred to have had a little more than he did. Regardless, each dish was very delicious.
Overall, lunch was amazing. You can tell when a restaurant has truly hit all the right notes when you are making plans to go back again before you have even left (Terry and I are going back again very soon). Yatai is a top quality restaurant which absolutely has to be visited by everyone in Aberdeen with semi-functioning tastebuds and a reasonable appreciation for food. It has single-handedly created several converts to Japanese food, myself included, and I hope that it creates many more.