A fancy Japanese restaurant a little way out of town, we weren’t sure what to expect.
However, the sterling Tripadvisor reviews helped put us at ease.
And rightly so, because everything about our meal was FAB.
We settled in at the far end of the sushi counter, perfect for both people watching and appreciating the chef’s impressive knife skills.
Before kicking off the evening with our favourite, a gin cocktail.
Shortly followed by a bottle of ‘Veuve Clicquot Brut’ (€85.00), because for me there is no better combination than bubbles and raw fish!
Fully ready to let the good times roll, we proceeded to fill up on all the sushi that we could physically consume.
Starting with mixed fish tartare tacos (€7.00).
Next was yellowtail with apple suno sunomono, crispy onion and coriander (€12.00).
Beautifully presented, the yellowtail laid bathing in a deliciously tangy sauce, though I personally thought the addition of crispy onions was a mistake since it overpowered the delicate flavours.
The crispy squid (€10.00) was the bomb.com. I absolutely LOVE this dish but find that it can be so incredible or entirely underwhelming, and I’m pleased to report that Yakuza’s offering ticked every box when it came to flavour, texture, portion size and (the all essential) sauce.
Yakuza is famous for its gunkans, so naturally we had to taste test every single one on the menu. For those who don’t know (including myself prior to this meal), a gunkan is a special type of nigiri sushi in that it is an oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice wrapped in nori with its centre filled with some soft, loose or fine-chopped ingredient that requires the confinement of nori, such as roe, oysters, uni (sea urchin roe), corn with mayonnaise, scallops and quail eggs, i.e. stuff that’s sloppy. But what was cool about Yakuza’s versions was that the nori was replaced by a thick slab of sashimi to act as the barrier, but with the same lavish toppings, making it quite the luxurious offering.
We popped our gunkan cherry with the ‘special gunkan freestyle’, which consisted of salmon topped with thinly sliced apple and clams (€12.00).
Next was the yellowtail gunkan topped with hot shrimp and deep-fried leek chips (€12.00).
Both were seriously good, and tasted extremely indulgent.
Switching it up with some nigiri, the turbot with coriander and chisou sushi (€6.00) was a new one for me, but one I could easily eat all day every day. The turbot had more bite to it than most sushi fish and was well complemented by its toppings.
In need of a short interlude, we took a moment to enjoy our champagne and reflect on the amazing food that we had been treated to so far.
Little did we know that the standard was only going to continue to improve!
The spicy tuna and Chinese cabbage maki sushi (€9.00) was an interesting combination, with the relatively flavourless cabbage essentially acting as a carrier for the spicy tuna whilst providing a textural contrast, which is always a big hit with me.
The tuna gunkan with crab and egg (€12.00) might well have been my favourite. It was quite simply a medley of amazing soft textures and tastes.
The tuna, crab shell wheat, coderniz egg and black truffle (€14.00) was another interesting one. Possibly my least favourite of the gunkan bunch but by no means bad, I’m just not sure about cold egg.
The kobe wagyu gunkan with foie gras, confit onion and teriyaki (€14.00), on the other hand, was unreal, with the impressively miniature perfectly fried egg a delicious yolky accompaniment to the super tender meat and buttery foie gras.
With one final return to the land of gunkans, we had another ‘special gunkan freestyle’, with tuna, black caviar and wild mushrooms (€12.00), which left us on a gunkan loving high.
Yes, we did have more food, because I am physically incapable of visiting a Japanese restaurant and not ordering the following two dishes.
The black cod (€28.00) was very good, not the best (my darling Roka holds that title), but still most enjoyable.
Though sadly the nasu dengaku (€8.00), our final savoury dish, was very poor, with the miso severely lacking that beautiful umami flavour and the aubergine meat overcooked & watery.
That said, 90% of our dishes being exceptional isn’t exactly bad going, and I would simply say that Yakuza’s main talent lies within its sushi offerings.
So, don’t judge me on this one, because it’s potentially the most childish/basic dessert choice that I’ve made since being over the age of 10, but how can one say no to ‘Kit Kat “guaranteed success”‘ (€7.00)?! You tell me!
Basically a bowl of rich, smooth chocolate mousse, topped with biscuits and a generous portion of broken Kit Kat. Nothing revolutionary here, I could have made it myself in about 10 seconds flat, but that didn’t stop it from being seriously yummy.
In honour of the restaurants strengths, Abi & I also shared the ‘gunkan’ of rice, coco, pineapple and ginger (€6.00), which was a light and refreshing alternative to our bowl of chocolate delight.
Abi & I LOVED our evening at Yakuza, it was one of the finest and also most different Japanese meals that I’ve experienced, and the food certainly hit the spot. As for service, I have to give a massive shout out to Maria, our waitress for the evening, who recommended many of our dishes and provided overall dreamy, personable service from start to finish!
A real must if you’re ever in Lisbon, have a palette for raw fish and are bored of croquettes.
*I dined as a guest of Yakuza, but all opinions are my own.
Time to burn off some of the gazillion calories that we’d just consumed, Abi & I headed to another of Olivier Avenida’s popular restaurants, Guilty, a brasserie-style restaurant with a live DJ and banging bar, where it’s fair to say Abi & I put on our dancing shoes and caused some mayhem!
Another must for at least a drink (I can’t speak for the food) as the atmosphere was truly awesome.