Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Yorokobi by CJ

My Local Takeaway

Beautiful, luscious bulgogi served with steamed rice

I lie. Yorkobi by Chef Jang is a proper restaurant, and I am just lucky they do a number of their dishes to take away. I've taken advantage of this fact a number of times, and dropped by for a sit down full dinner a few times as well. Located just two minutes from my front door and serving Japanese and Korean fare, Yorokobi is definitely my go-to local in Aberdeen. The town has an impressive number of restaurants, and although none of them so far have been amazing, a surprisingly large number of them have been very good. I'd even go as far as saying the local restaurant scene in Aberdeen is superior to Richmond, my last (chain-blighted) town. 

Sea bass and salmon sashimi to take away

With competition from venues like Rustico, Shri Bheema's and Thaikun, the reason I come back to Yorokobi is the sushi and sashimi. I first tried it here as part of a takeaway meal, and there is nothing like fresh raw fish, soya sauce and wasabi for comfort food. For £10, the amount you see in the photo above is a reasonable serving in my opinion, although perhaps my views are skewed by London. The fish was also very fresh, which is the first and most important test for good sashimi anywhere.

The interior: soft lighting, wooden furniture and dark brown tones

After tucking into a few more commendable takeaway meals (chicken teriyaki and bibimbap), I decided it was finally time to make a proper visit. As seen in the photo above, the restaurant is simple - soft lighting, wooden furniture and further dark brown tones from the table linen. Part of me feels like the room could use an update, but a bigger part of me prefers the small-town local-restaurant vibe the place exudes. It can get busy during the weekends, and I would recommend booking for peak time dinner on Friday and Saturday night. Service has always been nice and friendly, and mostly quick even on busy nights. Menus are brought over as soon as you sit down, and orders taken promptly. Food arrives as it is ready unless you specified otherwise at the time of ordering. A few words of advice: sushi, despite what some people seem to think, isn't really a starter! 

On the left, spicy tuna maki. On the right, seared salmon nigiri.

Sadly Yorokobi do not have their full menu online, so it's hard to make a judgement on either price or variety before going in. If memory serves, however, the sushi and sashimi selection is more extensive than their online takeaway selection would suggest. Portions as per the photo above will range from £3.50 to £4.50, depending on the ingredients. Both the maki and the seared salmon were excellent, with the latter being a great option for anyone trying to avoid raw ingredients.

Dragon roll with spicy mayo, topped with flying fish roe

I ordered a dragon roll on a subsequent trip, and at around £8 each they can be considered better value than the individual maki and nigiri servings. I didn't enjoy mine much though, and will be avoiding these in the future. There wasn't anything wrong in the freshness or preparation per se. I just don't think I'm a big fan of Western style sushi or the ingredient combo, especially the spicy mayonnaise as an accompaniment. 

Chicken teriyaki and chicken skewers with peanut sauce

Another slight criticism I have about the food at Yorokobi is the salt level in some of the dishes served. The photo above is a plate of the aforementioned chicken teriyaki, and while my partner enjoyed the dish it was a little saltier than we would have expected. The chicken skewers underneath were similarly over-seasoned, and the accompanying peanut sauce lacked its characteristic sweet richness. This leads me to say I've had both items done better elsewhere. 

Bibimbap - marinated grilled beef, spicy sauce, vegetables and a fried egg

Upon reflection, it seems I have always done better with the Korean mains on the menu. The bulgogi in the opening photo of this post is something everyone should try: strips of marinated grilled beef brought to the table sizzling, served with a portion of steamed rice. An order for two works out to about £12 a head, whereas a portion for one is slightly more expensive at £14. The dish is rich and generously portioned, making for a very meat heavy meal. You can opt for the bibimbap above instead if you're looking for a more balanced meal. It's again grilled and marinated beef, but a smaller portion served alongside spicy sauce, vegetables and a fried egg in a bowl of rice. More comfort food, in my opinion, and also available on their takeaway menu.

Red bean and chocolate rice cake

The only aspect where Yorokobi is an actual letdown is dessert. Shockingly, I don't mind this as much as I normally would as my primary aim when visiting is to eat my fill of sushi. I can report that the rice cakes above were nice, but I know the gelatinous cake and red bean paste won't be to everyone's taste. A lemon sorbet my partner once ordered tasted more artificial than natural, and I wouldn't venture that way again. I don't recall what else was on offer, but perhaps it would be best to stick to something safe like a cheesecake if you must satisfy that sweet craving. It's this and the little things like the extra salt that keeps my food score for the restaurant down. 

A three course meal with alcohol costs me about £28 here. This is not all that expensive, and definitely a sum I'm willing to pay for the food on offer. My bill is usually smaller anyway as I'd skip dessert here, and it is possible to have a better value meal by picking the right options from the menu. The takeaway menu is also considerably marked down, a plus for those lazy weeknights. I will keep going back, of course, and would recommend anyone else to drop by for a visit as well. 

Food: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value: 7/10

Final Score: 7/10

Contact Information
A: 51 Huntly Street, Aberdeen AB10 1TH
T: +44 1224 566002


NB. The final score, while influenced by the sub-scores, is a qualitative reflection of my overall impression of the establishment.

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