Giant Japanese Chain Yayoiken Is Opening Its First Restaurant In Australia

Yayoi, an 80-seat Japanese restaurant and sake bar serving set home-style meals, opened in Sydney last week, once more suggesting that Sydney is seen as a key market in expansion plans for Asian hospitality companies.

Yayoi is owned by one of Japan’s largest food service operators, Plenus Co Ltd, which also has the Hotto Motto and MK hotpot restaurant chain, dishing up more than 300 million meals per year.

This is the their first venture outside Asia. While more than 250 Yayoiken restaurants are spread across Japan, the company has also engaged in rapid franchise expansion plans, opening more than 100 additional restaurants in Thailand and Singapore.

The Yayoi concept is based around ‘teishoku’, meaning meal set: a tray of food that includes kinmemai (specially polished) rice, miso soup, a main meat or fish dish, and side of vegetables or Japanese pickles.

If McDonalds was a Japanese invention, then it probably would have been this restaurant chain, which ironically, began life 125 years ago as one of the few Western restaurants in Japan. But the Sydney Yayoi aims much higher and considerably pricier than a US burger chain, with the teishoku set menus costing between $23 and $39.

There are other menu combinations featuring udon noodles, and cheaper, single dishes such as agedashi dofu and teba kara-age (fried chicken wings), as well as the cross-cultural reference in salmon “carpaccio” (originally a raw Italian beef dish, so it’s curious when the culture that gave the world sashimi should borrow from the Italians).

Yayoi also has a sake sommelier, as well as Japanese craft beers.

Plenus Australian director David Coates said Yayoi was a different type of Japanese dining experience for Sydney that’s both authentic and popular.

“We know that the restaurant is going to be every bit as popular here as it is in Japan, and we look forward to planning more restaurant openings in the near future,” he said.

Yayoi is open daily for lunch and dinner at 38 Bridge Street, Sydney. Ph: 9247 8166

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