The Pattaya dining scene is not noted for restaurant longevity. There are restaurants that have closed before their grand opening. There are restaurants that have looked so promising and get sold before they have really settled in and just wither and die. Even the big hotels have restaurants that just didn’t catch on and end up another victim of “restructuring”. However, Yamato Japanese Restaurant is not one of those, having avoided being a ‘fad’ restaurant, and by sticking to genuine Japanese cuisine has weathered all the storms.
Yamato, in the eponymous Soi Yamato, has been there for 38 years, with Rattana keeping the restaurant going and true to its Japanese heritage.
Soi Yamato is a one-way soi from Second Road (opposite the Avenue Shopping Center) running down to Beach Road, and the restaurant is about 30 meters from the Beach Road intersection on your right. Just look for the Japanese characters on the blinds outside. You cannot miss it.
Inside, the low ceilings remind you that 38 years ago the Japanese were not very tall! There are some free standing table settings and also some Japanese alcoves for up to 10 diners.
Along one wall is the very well ordered kitchen, with a hard working Japanese chef slicing seafood for sushi and sashimi.
The menu is extensive, and for many people, the dishes are an unknown. Yamato does try and help the diners, with 15 pages of photographs, but there is a rider, with Rattana writing, “The photo in the menu just show how the food look like. Sometime it will look different because it depends on the chef, market or season. We will do the best for you.” And having spent an evening with Rattana in her restaurant, I am confident she will “do the best for you.”
The menu opens to pages in Japanese, but don’t fret, there are English items, and there is always Rattana who is only too happy to help. We had the junior tasters with us (one of whom was desperate to sample saki) and for them this was an entirely new cuisine.
The menu begins with drinks with local beers (including Asahi now brewed in Khon Kaen) B. 95-185 and house wine B. 185.
Next up some sushi items (B. 90-295) and then salads (B. 125-175) and grills (B. 155-195) including Saba Shioyaki. A la carte items (B. 95-195) are followed by deep fried dishes (B. 165-225). Then comes the 15 color pages.
We left the choice and ordering to Rattana who supplied a snack of radish and fish balls followed by a large plate of mixed sashimi with octopus and squid as well as the more usual tuna and salmon.
Next up was a bowl of eel and rice (Unadon), which was very tasty with the sake sipper (all he was going to get) voting the eel dish the best of the evening.
A very different dish came next with a Japanese curry (Katsu Karei) with pork and rice. This was reminiscent of a mild southern Thai curry and very enjoyable.
I had ordered tempura prawns and we were presented with one of the best, with the batter being new, I am sure. This was presented with a mini-tower of grated radish with ginger on top. Great condiments for the tempura.
We could not have a Japanese evening without sampling an Una Maki roll, which has sushi, egg, cucumber, pickle, seaweed and colorful shrimp eggs on the outside.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Japanese evening, even if the junior taster was disappointed with the hot saki. (I was not!)
Great food, experience a different cuisine and not over the top pricewise. Do go and try for yourselves.
Yamato Japanese restaurant, 219/51 Soi Yamato (13/1), close to Beach Road end, telephone 038 429 685 or 038 421 618 or 038 425 673. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. Open six days – closed on Sundays. On street parking if you are very lucky, but my suggestion is to park in the Avenue and do some shopping there to get your parking ticket stamped.