Okay, let's get one thing clear: we can never resist comfort food.
I mean, is there anything that genuinely makes you feel better like a nice, hot meal that fills you up?
New restaurant Yoshi's is proof that while cuisines vary all over the world, comfort food is a global need. A Japanese restaurant, Yoshi's is similar to organic cafe Makotoya in that it moves away from the typical sushi and teppenyaki but at the same time is vastly different. While Makotoya is for the healthy calorie counter, Yoshi's wants you to carboload all the guilty pleasure.
The restaurant is also the first place to introduce Japan's popular dish, okonomiyaki; a savoury pancake and omelette hybrid, which is known as Japan's soul food.
I won't lie, while I'm always excited for good Japanese cuisine - and was going to be having okonomiyaki after years - I was more fascinated by the restaurant's name being inspired by Nintendo's lovable dinosaur. Yeah.
Where to go
Yoshi's, owned by Rameez Jokhio has taken over the first branch of Asian fusion joint Chop Chop Wok. You know the one, at Phase V Khadda market adjacent to Indus Foods.
It's easy to spot the place because of its quirky pink door with resembles a gashapon (vending machine). Honestly, at first glance you won't think it's a door and will be distracted by the cute trinkets on display. BTW there are Yoshi figures as well so I was right on my initial thought. Ha.
The interior is just as bright, a flock of paper cranes on one side and an artwork featuring Anthony Bourdain in Star Wars on the other.
When to go
Yoshi's is open from 12:30pm to 12am.
What to order
I was very impressed by Yoshi's offerings. Apart from okonomiytaki, they had many delicious items which were either authentic Japanese dishes or clever fusions. And let's just say I forgot about everything when I saw the fried chicken options. Despite preferring beef over chicken, fried chicken is my favourite comfort food.
I held my excitement for karaage and started out with the appetisers; the spicy edamame and gyozas.
The edamame was cooked well but we felt like the sauce was a little too overpowering. Edamame doesn't really require such a rich sauce, just a dry spice blended with the salt and pepper would do fine.
The wasabi fries were an odd combo that was unable to harmonise as a dish. Perhaps if the wasabi was stronger?
The gyozas were also a little too dry for our liking, which honestly had us concerned about the food ahead. But thankfully, Yoshi's entrees were top notch and we immediately forgot the mediocre small plates.
The Japanese fried chicken is now not only my favourite dish from Yoshi's but I have gone back frequently for more. The crispy batter was coated with a mild sweet sauce which goes wonderfully with the chicken, which itself was tender and juicy.
The Korean fried chicken will be pretty popular among Karachi foodies due to the spicy notes in the sauce. And once again, the chicken was just spot on.
We were excited when the okonomiyaki hit the table. It's difficult to describe the dish and calling it a pancake and omelette hybrid doesn't really do it justice - it's also known as Japanese pizza in the US but that too is a vague description. It is made on a grill similar to the teppanyaki and is an adaptable dish that can have almost anything in it. Yoshi's okonomiyaki consists of prawn, beef cabbage and other crunchy veggies. Pretty close to the classic dish actually.
Yoshi's okonomiyaki is very similar to the classic Osaka style dish and my colleagues loved it, being unable to compare it to any other dish out there in Karachi. While I agree, I did miss the distinct tang and subtle notes of garlic that the authentic okonomiyaki has. That being said, I was impressed by the quantity and quality.
Yoshi's also has a unique hot dog formula which might not satisfy your classic hot dog needs but will come pretty close and holds its own - especially the classic variant. The dog is cooked in crispy batter and placed on a bao bun. There are 5 versions of the 'Japa-dawg' and we loved how each had its own flavour.
The miso dawg stood out and we were smitten by the taste. The earthy and salty notes of miso were strong and also, all these dawgs are huge and filling! Shout out to Yoshi's for their generous portions!
The dynamite dawg is comparatively spicier and we enjoyed the shredded crab laid on the base of the bun. Another point to mention; these are extremely messy to eat but it's all part of the fun.
Initially Yoshi's was experimenting with their bagus, having a crispy rice 'bun' wrapped in nori. While it sounded great on paper, we were underwhelmed as the rice overpowered everything within and considering how much it was stuffed to the brim, that's saying something. The meat was overshadowed and any beef fan can relate when I say, that is just never okay.
Luckily Yoshi's picked up on the criticism and has replaced the crispy rice with bao buns and that made a significant difference.
The yoshizza is the restaurant's take on - you guessed it - pizza and the dish is very similar to Easy's pizzas in both presentation and style of thick crust. I personally prefer thin crust pizzas so I wasn't leaning heavily on this guy but my friends did enjoy it a lot. Our pizza had rock shrimp as the toppings and while that was an extremely odd combination, we loved the marinade on the shrimp.
A glass of cheezo milk tea in melon helped downing all the heavy goodies. The drink has a nice thick layer of cheese foam and trust me when I say it tastes way better than it sounds! Yoshi's drinks are a must try as well, like the coconut and curd shake and the yuzunade - which is just made for the gram!
Yoshi's has ice-cream for dessert at the moment which was a slight letdown for me because I'm waiting for good Japanese desserts to hit Karachi already. According to the chef, they are on their way.
The matcha ice-cream is perfect for matcha fans with its extremely strong notes of green tea. The black sesame ice cream has nutty notes but is accompanied by the strong bitter flavour usually associated with the core ingredient so it's not the most commercial ice-cream flavour out there.
For those who love trying out new restos but want a safe bet, the Vietnamese coffee sundae is the way to go. Sweet, topped with candies with an underlying hint of espresso, this is great for sharing.
Damage on the pocket
Yoshi's prices range from Rs450 - Rs750, which for the quantity is pretty decent and rather impressive considering how high up the prices have been going these days. They have made a regular out of me for their fried chicken, that's for sure.