- Gavan Reilly's Portfolio - http://portfolio.gavreilly.com -

Orient Express

An uneasy Gavan Reilly is bowled over by the food and service at Yamamori on Ormond Quay

As someone who’s had the rare pleasure of eating Japanese food in its homeland, there’s something I usually find quite vacuous and plastic about Japanese eateries in Ireland. Dublin’s mushrooming bog-standard sushi joints have taken the nationality out of the food, and picking up a plastic box of ‘sushi’ (where every ingredient is British) from certain chain supermarkets doesn’t cut it. So when I was offered a restaurant review in a Japanese eatery with outlets on both sides of the Liffey, I felt a little uneasy.

[1]I need not have worried. Yamamori Sushi, only two years old and sitting beside the north end of the Hapenny Bridge, was a serious treat. Striking the perfect balance between its physical and spiritual locations, the startlingly enormous premises pitches the ideal blend of oriental authenticity without ever appearing contrived or inauthentic. They say it’s a good sign when a restaurant is busy on a quiet night; on a miserable Monday evening, the vast restaurant was buzzing in every corner, but is laid out in such a way as to provide quieter crannies for more sedate occasions.

The food is more than the stereotypical raw-fish-on-a-plate and Yamamori do a top job in showcasing the rest of the fare. Although the starters – I took a Beef Tataki while my +1 was offered a Nami Mori platter of sushi and sashimi – were indeed raw food, they were much more exotic and flavoured than your average M&S six-pack. The platter in particular was top notch, and enormous, with gorgeous chunks of fresh salmon and tuna. For mains, +1 chose a Bento Box (again, huge, showcasing the restaurant’s strengths in both meat and fish, cooked and otherwise) while my Ankou Teri monkfish was juicy, rich, flavoursome and faultless. The dessert special, a white chocolate cake, was equally fabulous, while the whole thing was washed down with authentically imported Japanese red ale and wheat beers for me, and a Japanese Pinot Gris for the lady. If you have a stomach for cooked food that doesn’t need to be incinerated, it’s for you.

Simply put, everything about Yamamori is top notch. The service is magnificent; every one of the five staff otwo met on the night were gentlemanly, swift and even the toilets (warm with lush tiling, and some kind of super-fancy Dyson Airblade that actually dries your hands!) and the artwork – “Ireland’s second-largest collection of authentic Japanese art, after the Japanese Embassy”, according to the proud duty manager – merit special mention.

The price might be a pinch beyond your average student budget, but for special occasions or if you’re being treated, you could do worse than take a quick satisfying stroll into another world.

Yamamori Sushi, 38-39 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1. (01) 872 0003, www.yamamorisushi.ie