Last week I finally got to eat at a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for ages. Yorokobi by CJ opened on Huntly Street in Aberdeen after Korean Chef Jang had been operating a very successful wee sushi stall at Aberdeen Indoor Market for years. I visited the stall several times and it was my first taste of sushi. I was keen to try the full restaurant experience but for some reason I haven’t got around to visiting until now.
I have two regrets about this meal. I’ll get to the second one later but the first was not taking a proper camera. Sorry about that. The camera on my phone is usually brilliant but it really needs good light to work and the table was some distance from natural light I’m afraid.
Once we were seated we started reading through the menu. Then we read through it again. Another run through and then I asked a waitress for help. It’s not that the menu is hard to read; it just doesn’t state clearly how much food you’re ordering. After a helping hand from the sympathetic waiting staff we ordered some chicken gyoza and agedashi tofu for starters followed by a chicken katsu curry and a sushi family set dish with miso soup for the mains.
The starters were awesome. I love almost any style of dumpling and the chicken gyoza were perfect. However the star of this round was the tofu. I’ve never tried tofu before. I guess I always believed the disdainful stories of how boring it was and how little flavour it carried. This wasn’t boring at all. The texture of the tofu and the sweet sauce with crispy seaweed and spring onions was a huge joy to eat and brought me great amusement watching Angela try to eat it with chopsticks. Eventually she resorted to skewering a block of tofu and sloshing it into the sauce.
Now onto my second regret of the meal. When I was attempting to decide from the mass of delicious sounding speciality rolls in the sushi menu I froze. Incapable of making a proper decision I decided that the set sushi selection would give me a nice variety and a good impression from across the menu. Instead what I got was some really good-looking, but fairly boring pieces of sushi. It’s the sort of selection you see everywhere. If you go into a supermarket and see a pre-prepared sushi selection it probably looks something like the picture on this page. Well ok, not quite like the picture on this page. I probably took that too far.
On its own the sushi is great. A real cut above some of the more commercial sushi restaurants. I loved the little maki rolls, the white fish nigiri and the tofu (total tofu convert now). But if I really wanted to see what made this restaurant tick I should have gone with some of the specials. There was a 10 piece Aberdeen roll on special that sounded great. Also appealing to me was the Dragon roll with avocado, crab stick, grilled eel and a teriyaki and mustard sauce.
Moving on from my menu indecision misery and on to the katsu curry. It tasted amazing but there wasn’t nearly enough of the katsu sauce to go with the dish. Very disappointing. Lots more amusement watching the pile of rice being eaten with chopsticks though! Full marks go to Angela for effort there.
Desserts of a passion and mango sorbet and the pat (sweet red bean) ice cream were perfect. The sorbet was refreshing and fruity (as it should be) while the ice cream, which I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I ordered it, was sweet with an almost nutty flavour. I highly recommend it.
After all that I relaxed with a pot of green tea while we settled the bill. Reflecting on the meal the only bum note that was the fault of the restaurant was the lack of katsu sauce. What sauce there was really tasted fantastic but it just needed more of it. The other two regrets for the evening, totally my fault. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the sushi selection but I should have trusted my instincts and explored exactly what Chef Jang could do. Still, there’s always next time and the good thing about a place like Yorokobi is that there are lots of delicious choices to keep me coming back.