Yaki Boi is not for purists. Not for the unadventurous, not for those who like to play it serious and safe. But if you’re willing to let loose and get a bit weird – culinarily speaking – then hoooo boi, this is the place for you.
We climb the stairs of the ORI building on Lonsdale Street. Active-wear-clad fitness fanatics are climbing alongside us. They are going to the gym. We are not.
The red neon sign by the bar instructs us to ‘stop thinking, start drinking’. It’s good advice. The yuzu margarita is zingy and fresh, or beer lovers might like to try the Yaki Boi lager brewed exclusively for the restaurant by Capital Brewing Co. Both are good.
On a clear evening, the outdoor terrace is a delightful place to sit and contemplate the workings of Lonsdale Street and ponder such questions as “how long have those people been standing in line for Gelato Messina?” and “how many yuzu margaritas are too many for a Tuesday?”
Next, we check out the menu. Page one contains snacks for sharing and a few hints at fusion with main meals like the udon carbonara topped with bonito flakes and dried seaweed.
But it’s the flip side of the menu where sh*! gets weird (and we are all about it).
There is the Unagi Burger – Japanese marinated eel, for the uninitiated – served with fish roe, a fried egg, pineapple and seaweed. And one burger that has simply been dubbed WTF looks absolutely wild: double patty, double bacon, hash brown, mozzarella sticks, Japanese pickles and more. You’d need to be a very hungry caterpillar indeed to finish that big boi.
The pizzas are similarly delightfully unhinged. The Takoyaki Party immediately catches our eye, partly out of sheer curiosity. And once we’ve decided on one pizza, we figure we may as well go all in and also share the Peking Duck pizza. After all, there ain’t no party like a pizza party.
On the off chance you’ve brought a ‘basic’ friend with you (we’ve all got one), there’s no need to panic. They can have a regular Margherita pizza or a chicken burger, or a poke bowl. There’s a good mix of classics and fusion dishes on the menu. But we’re not here for classics. We’re here for the seriously un-serious stuff.
We snack on fried pork dumplings and the wagyu cheeseburger spring rolls, which do taste like a cheeseburger. It’s uncanny and very fun. We also enjoy the smoked salmon tartare which arrives on a little square of deep-fried sushi rice. It’s crispy and chewy all at once.
The Peking duck pizza is delicious, and the slices of duck have stayed nice and juicy. I enjoy the combination of the tomato and hoisin sauces, and the cucumber, chilli and spring onion make a lovely fresh garnish.
And then the moment of truth arrives with the Takoyaki Pizza: takoyaki octopus balls, prawns, sweet and savoury okonami sauce, mayo and cheese with a garnish of bonito flakes waving gently. The concept was novel, sure. But novelty alone does not a meal make. Fortunately, the Yaki Boi team knows what they are doing and it sure as hell lived up to the hype. The ingredients feel like they’re going to be kind of a lot (you know?), but together, they somehow all work as a gluttonously good feed.
There is dessert on the menu (hell, there are even milkshakes), but we were stuffed full.
Heading home, we passed the gym without a second glance. That’s a tomorrow problem.
Yaki Boi is located in the ORI Building, 72/30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon. They are open from 12 pm until late, seven days a week. Follow Yaki Boi on Facebook or Instagram.