Surely the ultimate sign of being ‘part’ of Pattaya is when they name the street after you. That is the case with the Yamato Japanese restaurant, situated in Soi Yamato, where it has been for the last 30 years. That really is quite an achievement in Pattaya where many restaurants close before they have the scheduled ‘grand opening’.
These days, Soi Yamato (off Second Road, opposite The Avenue shopping center) is one of Pattaya’s more interesting streets, one way towards Beach Road, with a mixture of restaurants, bars, beauty salons, massage parlors, guest houses and speeding motorcycles with food transport hot-boxes on behind. Be careful when walking!
Yamato restaurant is around 30 meters from the Beach Road end of the soi, on the right hand side. Just look for the Japanese characters on the blinds outside. You cannot miss it.
Inside, the restaurant would be best described as ‘cozy’, with low ceilings (Japanese are not too tall), a bar along one wall, a couple of private alcoves/booths, some Japanese memorabilia on the walls with a sign for free Wi-Fi, and the ever-smiling Ratana, the owner who has also been there for 30 years, though she probably does not wish to remember that.
While perusing the very large menu, we ordered the Japanese Asahi beer (now brewed in Thailand, I believe) very pleasant and at five percent alcohol not over the top, especially compared to the sake we had later in the evening! Beers are B. 120 for large bottles, while the Shochu Japanese liquor is B. 150-185.
The first half of the menu has English, Japanese, Thai and some Russian translations, and begins with some raw fish dishes, with the Sashimi combo (B. 450) top of the list, but with most others only B. 150-250.
Nigiri Sushi items are next (mainly B.80-160), Sushi rolls and various vinegar dishes (around B. 100) and then Salads (B. 95), Grills (B. 120-150). Deep fried fish, chicken, shrimp or pork is available at B. 120-185. In typical Japanese manner there are many ‘sets’ all around B. 285, and then Noodles (150-195).
The second half of the menu is a photographic one, which is an excellent idea, particularly if you are not sure of some of the items. Yamato does cover itself with the notice, “Sometimes the food can look different – depends on the chef, market or season.”
The placemat has diagrams on how to hold and use chopsticks, and interestingly, Ratana told us that Japanese youth has forgotten their traditional eating utensils!
We began with a wonderful ‘boat’ with a sashimi combo with octopus, crab sticks, tuna, salmon, squid and fermented mackerel, with another dish being potato salad with vegetables.
These were followed by many others including sliced beef in vinegar, potato croquettes and Yakitori … and hot sake! Beware!
We had been invited to join a group of five, which meant that we had an opportunity to sample many different dishes, and we were most impressed. Vegetables were crispy fresh, the sauces were also fresh and the different tastes were obvious. My favorite sauce was the vinegar with sesame oil, sweet and yet sharp. The presentation of the food was superb and the sashimi combo was very artistic, with a wasabi ‘tower’ at the bow of the ‘boat’ containing the raw fish.
We all had different tastes and this was reflected in the choice of the dish of the evening. There was no consensus for one dish, other than the fact they were all enjoyable! My pick was the Yakitori Chicken Teriyaki closely followed by the sliced beef with vinegar (this is a new item and not yet on the menu, so you may have to ask for it).
We remain very impressed with the Yamato Japanese restaurant, and even if you are a little wary of Japanese cuisine, the multi-page menu will definitely have something for everyone. It is not overly expensive, and we considered it very good value. Very highly recommended.
Yamato Japanese restaurant, 219/51 Soi Yamato (13/1), close to Beach Road, telephone 038 429 685 or 038 421 618. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. for dinner. On street parking.