It is the first time I've been exposed to this culinary treat in Hod HaSharon. Yamatoya (stands for Japan) is a creative, unique bistro, located one minute walk from one of the city's main roads. My partner and I are just celebrating our 6-month anniversary, and I try to surprise him with Yamatoya's Japanese cuisine.
Yamatoya was established about 18 months ago by renowned Japanese Chef Aya Imatani. With an impressive resume in Japan, Europe, and even Israel's best Japanese restaurants such as Onami and Takamaru, she puts in a lot of effort, sophistication and professionalism in her own bistro.
We are welcomed by one of the smiling restaurant's waitresses, and decide to sit next to a high bar table. Yamatoya's walls are decorated with posters of old Japanese films, some of which my partner appears to be familiar with.
Yamatoya's rich menu includes appetizers, salads, soups, grilled or stir-fried dishes, traditional rice dishes, sushi, and fully constructed Japanese meals. We start our journey through Japan guided by our waitress.
We start with hot sake traditionally served in a tiny cup, poured out of ceramic small bottle. It is said that in Japan, drinking from another person's sake cup is a sign of friendship; I drink from my partner's. We also have the sweet alcoholic Choya plum wine, enriched by the Japanese Ume.
For starters we have the Agadashi Tofu – soup dish with Namako mushroom and crispy tofu cubes, we love the tofu in the soup and mark an excellent start for this meal.
We also try the Udon Soup which is based on fish broth, sake and soy with wheat noodles, served with Wakame seaweed and crispy tempura chips. Of course, this is an especially healthy soup filled with vitamins, the udon noodles are meaty and have a unique taste.
Yamatoya's crowd is diverse and includes traveling Japanese guests, local families and couples and others who wish to enjoy the authentic experience of a Japanese restaurant.
When it comes to the main course, I cannot skip the sushi. I get a fine roll of salmon, tuna and shrimps in tempura, dipped in green and orange Tubiko. The sushi is colorful and fresh. We also get the Ika Bata Yaki, which means stir-fried calamari rings and shitaki mushrooms in butter-garlic-soy sauce. The calamari was soft and delicate and the sauce was a nice addition.
For dessert we get a happy dish of Blancmange accompanied by amazing chocolate truffle cubes made of 3 different kinds of chocolates and nuts. We also enjoy some jasmine tea served in a glass pot inhabited by a slowly opening beautiful bulb.
Without a doubt, Yamatoya is a true Japanese restaurant that offers authentic tastes, flavors and quality of materials. You can also enjoy a Chef-meal (upon reservation) that includes special unlisted dishes. If you ever want to get a taste of Japan, this restaurant is recommended for you.