Real foodies know that the place to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine in KSA is Yokari Restaurant in Centria Mall. Chef Taki Sato, Executive Chef at Yokari Restaurant, is the only Japanese Chef in Saudi Arabia (apart from the Japanese Ambassadors personal chef). Yokari has made a name for itself here in Riyadh by delighting guests with friendly service, delectable Japanese dishes, in a cool, relaxed atmosphere.
A couple of weeks back, my husband and I were on the hunt for a new restaurant to try on our weekly date night. We eat Italian food most of the week, and wanted to try something new. Although we weren’t terribly hungry, friends recommended Yokari Japanese Restaurant and the google reviews looked promising, so we decided to give it a try.
Yokari is located on the second floor of Centria Mall in Olaya. Centria mall ( kitty corner to Narcissus Hotel) is home to many high-end fashion houses and some of the best restaurants in the city.
When we arrived, the Yokari staff, led by Restaurant Manager Ben Mhassoun Mohammed, were welcoming, professional, and friendly. The chill-out music created a cool vibe and the restaurant was filled with couples and groups (not the place for children in the evening). We started the evening with a couple of Yokari’s popular mocktails; the ginger bellini and strawberry mojito. They were tasty and refreshing. After some conversation, we looked over the menu. The Soft shell crab maki roll was calling my name and did not disappoint. The ingredients are bursting with flavor and freshness. We also tried the shrimp gyoza, true Japanese comfort food. I certainly recommended both those dishes and just writing about them makes me want to return for a second round!
Since my husband had another eating engagement later in the evening, we kept our fare light on our date. However, I was so intrigued by the cuisine, I later returned to meet the chef and learn more about Yokari.
Chef Taki Sato started his culinary career in Japan. The son of carpenters, he describes building his own furniture as a child. One day, he decided to trade the hammer and saw for a spatula and knife. The rest is history. He worked his way across the world, from New York to Dubai, and now in Riyadh. Chef Taki views himself and Yokari as ambassadors of Japanese culture and global restaurant trends. He aims to position Yokari as not only the number 1 Japanese restaurant in KSA but also as the leading contemporary cuisine in Riyadh. A few times each year, Chef Takil travels the globe’s culinary capitals to discover new trends and bring them back to Riyadh. He also leads a meet-up group called RIyadh Fine Dining Night (you can join via meetup.com). Each month he and his fellow food enthusiasts dine at a new fine-dining establishment in Riyadh.
Since my first dining experience at Yokari was limited, I asked for Chef Taki’s recommendations of must-try Yokari menu dishes. I can’t wait to get back and try them all! Here they are:
Beverage: Asian passion mocktail
Appetizer: Beef taco
Rolls: Spicy Tuna roll
Main dish: Grilled Chilean Sea bass
Dessert: Date Pudding or Hazelnut chocolate crunch
There you go WSB readers. Maybe we will run into each other sipping an Asian passion cocktail and sampling the Chilean Sea Bass at Yokari.
2nd Floor Centria Mall, Olaya Riyadh
Ramadan Hours: Sunset – 2:30am
Regular Hours: 1pm-11:30pm