I loooooooove yakiniku, when I lived in Japan, it was one of those things I would love but only eat on rare occasions because it quickly (and easily) became very expensive. In Japan, we would be greeted by young bandana wearing waiters and waitress who would yell out “Irashiamase!!” as you enter and drop big metal bowls filled with coals in front of you. I would always enjoy grilling to my heart’s content, with my favourite cuts of meat being wagyu beef which come beautifully speckled with fat that melt and drip into the coals, leaving a tender, delicious morself. I’ve never had anything like it since.
Koh-ya has a more subdued atmosphere, it definitely wasn’t as hectic, the grills were built into the tables so that it was level and it was gas fired rather than hot coals, a lot safer, but I definitely miss the smokeyness and the living dangerously side of things. You can choose between a gourmet BBQ buffet ($39.90), a deluxe BBQ buffet ($49.90) or order a la carte off the menu. As this was my first time, I thought I’d go all out and get the deluxe buffet with the drinks and dessert buffet for $7.90 extra (all you can drink soft drink, tea and ice-cream). Main difference between the deluxe and the gourmet was that the deluxe had sashimi and the gourmet didn’t.
We started with some dried sting ray wings which ‘Aioko’ recommended, she actually said, “This is very famous”…which I loved, really brought me back to when I was in Japan where I find the service impeccable. All the waitstaff had hand written name tags which listed their name, the prefecture/town they were from and their hobbies. Aioko, from memory, was from Aiche, and likes dancing. We were advised to lightly grill the sting ray wings which were white and dried, and absolutely delicious. It was chewy, but in a beef jerky sort of texture, salty and sweet with a smokiness to it. I really enjoyed it, I think I could easily eat it like pop-corn at the movies.
We also ordered beef harami (beef muscle – didn’t really liked that description but Aioko said it was very tender), which came marinated in a sweet, salty sauce and was absolutely meltingly tender. The salmon sashimi was thick and fresh, but had a thick layer of lighter pink which is usually sliced off. Made it chewing and not soft as I usually prefer it to be.
I wanted to order ox tongue as one of the first dishes I had in yakiniku in Japan was ox tongue (I didn’t know it at the time and I loved it) but this ox tongue was sliced thicker than what I was used to, and a bit too chewy. We experimented with different cooking times, but in the end, I just didn’t like it that much. We also ordered the usual suspects, chicken breast (a bit dry), chicken thigh (much nicer – fatty meat is gooood), beef loin (a bit dry, not as tender as Harami), squid (average), yaki-chikuwa (Japanese fish cakes) – I was disappointed with these, they lacked flavour and tasted had the texture of rubber bands.
We got a few vegetable dishes too, a tofu salad, which were squares of raw tofu with salad leaves, soy sauce, spring onions and a stack of katsuobushi (shavings of dried, smoked tuna – looks like wood shavings). I love agedashi tofu, but I felt the katsuobushi overpowered the tofu – I’m not the biggest katsuobushi fan – I like it sparingly. Butter Corn which was a small foil pie dish with a huge pat of butter with frozen corn on top, way too buttery even for a butter lover like me. We also got Kim-chi, but by this time, I was way too full and didn’t try any of it.
We were constrained by a 90 minute time limit, which goes a lot quickly than you think because we had to wait for the food to cook. Last dish we ordered was stewed beef which was fall off the bone good, but was very rich and had lots of tendon in it and probably would’ve done better served with rice and before I’d consumed so much meat. To finish, I ordered a yellow-bean ice-cream which had a nice chick pea like texture and wasn’t too sweet.
I think yakiniku is a perfect ‘first date’ destination and would definitely go back. I had a bad start though, earlier in the day, we’d had a Halloween celebration at work which was completely over-catered, and trust me, I did not hold back. Some of the food served: sausage rolls, spinach feta rolls, chicken kiev balls, grain-waves, red rock deli chips, sticky date loaf, chocolate cake, spiced pumpkin pie, finger in bandages (cheerios wrapped with ‘bandaged’ totilla), fairy bread, red velvet cake, chocolate cheese cake, cookies, lamingtons, trail mix, ice-cream spiders…I’m sure they are way more, forget now.
I’m sorry I have no pictures of Koy-ya, it was very dark in the restaurant, but I leave you with some pictures of the red velvet mummy cupcakes and a grave yard red velvet cake I made.