As of February, what once was an empty lot has become a restaurant offering an elevated level of yakiniku dining. Japanese BBQ Yoshi opened its doors to customers and showcased top-of-the-line meat and service right off the bat. Having started its venture at such a high point, it’s hard to imagine that the eatery could exceed its already established culinary height. But restaurant supervisor Scott Motoda and general manager Hajime Saito have plans to set the bar even higher for yakiniku Island-wide.
“We want to separate ourselves from other yakiniku places,” Motoda says. Japanese BBQ Yoshi accomplishes this with its higher standard of service. Saito adds, “At other yakiniku places, there seems to be a lack of explanation. They (servers) just drop the food off and walk away. For us, step No. 1, we guide the customers through it.” In this way, employees interact with customers to enhance the dining experience.
Salmon Appetizer ($10.50)
Crispy Pork Belly ($8.50)
Another thing that sets Japanese BBQ Yoshi apart from the rest is the eatery’s high-quality selection of meat. As Special Yoshi Hour set ($32) reaches the table, including a plate of Pork Loin, Pork Belly, Kobe Toro Kalbi, Harami and U.S. Prime Kalbi, one already can identify the different marbling of each meat. “A lot of yakiniku (places) tend to put a lot of marination to hide the taste of the meat, but for us, we prefer salt and pepper and just let the meat do its job. That’s the confidence I have; we carry better meats than the others,” Saito states.
The set, which only is offered Monday-Friday, from 5 to 6 p.m., also comes with a scoop of rice, a small salad with the house yuzu vinaigrette dressing and substitution options for the meat, including Shrimp and Beef Tongue.
If you’re not too keen on cooking your own food, the eatery now is offering appetizers that have the accoutrements to place the establishment in the “fine-dining” category. Salmon Appetizer ($10.50; name subject to change) features a pan-seared salmon, served medium-rare and laid upon a mound of crispy kimchee fried rice. The dish expertly is paired with a small helping of a corn, onion, shiso and ponzu salad to balance everything out.
Or, you could choose to order Crispy Pork Belly ($8.50), displaying three thick slices of wasabi-marinated pork belly — which have been braised and then pan-seared — on a bed of shredded daikon. The perfectly crisp and alluringly fatty pork is accompanied by two sauces: One is a fruit chutney, boasting plum and star-anise flavors, while the other is a “beefed-up gochujang (Korean chili paste) sauce,” describes Motoda.
After a bite of each, Now Plating exclaims that the pupus are not what was expected at all, to which Saito responds with an approving nudge to Motoda. “Thats exactly what he (Saito) wants,” Motoda says with a laugh.
Japanese BBQ Yoshi
1316 Young St., Honolulu
Daily, 5-11 p.m.