Yamato, the restaurant with its own street

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For those who might wonder about which came first, the chicken or the egg, there is no wondering about the Yamato Japanese restaurant in Soi Yamato. Yamato, the restaurant, has been there for around 35 years and the soi was named after its oldest tenant.

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.

As soon as you enter the restaurant, you will meet Rattana, the owner and you also soon realize that anyone over 1.7 meters tall had better bow their heads. It is Japanese headroom!

You can sit up at the bar, or choose western style chairs and tables, or Japanese style with your feet dangling in a hole, or truly authentic Japanese style in the private rooms upstairs, sitting on the floor. We chose the western style.

To make life a little easier for the novice chopstick user, the placemats have instructions and diagrams on how to use them. Follow the directions and it works – well it did for me anyway.

The menu is pictorial, which is a must when trying a different cuisine/language. However, the menu does have a caveat: “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.” So now you know. Local beers are B. 95 and wine B. 185/glass. The Kirin beer was B. 185/bottle.

We began with a mixed sashimi plate which had octopus, salmon, tuna, crab sticks, sea bass, squid and mackerel, and a sizeable amount of wasabi (and I love wasabi, with the pungent taste that hits you in the back of your nose).

Rattana next brought out a Tonkatsu (B. 195) and a Koroke (B. 195). The Tonkatsu dish is very similar to a Weiner schnitzel, a personal favorite from the western world, and this Japanese version was just as good. The Koroke was potato based and could be thought of as croquettes.

A Yakitori was next (B. 95) which had three sticks of very juicy chicken satays with teriyaki sauce. Much more plump cuts of chicken thigh that the much smaller and thinner Thai satays.

A large plate of tempura prawns was next, with its own sauce (though I used my wasabi). If the oil is old, tempura can be disappointing, but these were prefect and undoubtedly fresh. Fortunately we had a five person strong Dining Out team as more food was arriving, with grilled salmon steak (B. 195) and grilled Saba (also B. 195) and an Ura Maki sushi combination roll with shrimp eggs (B. 195) was next to grace our table.

We enjoyed every dish, and one of our team, who has visited Japan, said that the tastes were authentic. Mind you, with Yamato having been there for around 35 years, I am sure Rattana knows what is good or otherwise.

This is a restaurant to take a few people with you. The prices are certainly not over the top, and the quality is there.

The Kirin beer bottles have on the label “Brewed for Good Times” and the Dining out crew can definitely vouch for that. Great food, experience a different cuisine and good times promised by the Kirin brewery. 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. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner. On street parking (or do some shopping in the Avenue or Royal Garden).