A menu at an Izakaya in Japan is usually relatively simple, Japanese Pub food.

Most Restaurants in Japan “specialize” ie a Sushiya serves sashimi, sushi and related seafood dishes, an Okonomiyaki shop specializes in a vast variety of large fritters that patrons mostly cook at tables on their own hot plates, Ramen shops, mainly noodle dishes, etc. The population of  Palmerston North, is not large enough to support a specialty Restaurant, so we have tried to provide a wide range of Japanese favourites.

Slowly over the years, dishes have been added until now we feel there is a good range that suits most palates, over 80 choices.

Our “foodies” come in for the sashimi, beef or tuna tataki, sushi, fresh shiitake mushrooms and our Zashiki, Kaiseki menu. Good sashimi fish is not easy to source in Palmerston North. We have great suppliers from both New Plymouth and Napier and only buy what is fresh and seasonal. We buy whole farmed salmon from the fresh alpine waters around Tekapo so fresh salmon will be the only constant on our sashimi platter. The other fish will be the freshest we can source.

Beef and Tuna Tataki are both very popular, with diners often pre-ordering a couple of dishes as plate numbers are limited. Tataki, is a block of fish or meat that is first seasoned, all surfaces seared, then quickly cooled. After a settling process, the block is thinly sliced and presented on a plate with salad and dipping sauces.

It is fascinating watching our regulars’ palates develop. First time in they usually start with the “safe” dishes of cooked chicken, pork, fish and beef. Each time they come in they’ll try a new dish, gradually developing a taste for the more adventurous dishes.

Our customers also really enjoy the sharing style of dining. General rule of thumb is that most can eat about two dishes. A group of 4 would usually end up ordering about 8 different dishes, leaving here happily having experienced 8 different tastes and types of food. How often to you go to an entrée/main style of Restaurant and either get sick of your dish part way through or regret your choice once you have seen someone else’s dish? It doesn’t happen here as you share it all.

At Yatai, we pride ourselves on serving our food as fresh as possible, with a smile on the side.