The scoop on Yamasen

Another day, another restaurant review for you guys. For no other reason other than to give you the inside scoop so that if you have not been yet, you know and are well equipped before you walk into Yamasen – a new Japanese restaurant in Muyenga, Kampala that seems to be all the hype right now.

Full disclaimer, I used to live on this side of town and watched as they built this restaurant, made bets about what it was going to be, and ended up winning when they finally opened and it was a restaurant.

For starters, you’ve got to make a reservation. Chances are that if you walk in hoping to find some space to sit down, most of their tables will be taken.

The restaurant carries a very stripped down and simple vibe. A really high roof that allows light in gives it an industrial feel. It’s got a lot of concrete, and a lot of wood. The décor is not particularly heavy and that draws you into focusing more on your dinner conversation. It’s also got soft jazz playing in the background and there is no feeling that you’ve walked into a restaurant and might sit down afterwards and have drinks. They seem to be very driven towards their core purpose – which I like. Speaking of which they close at 11:00 pm so if you plan to stretch out your meal and catch up, being there as early as 7:00 pm will work in your favour.

The food – which is why we are all here in the first place. Presentation is everything for these guys, and I love it. Ask for a pork platter and it will come presented to you on a wooden board with accompaniments in small bowls. As for a tempura and it will come in a basket. Ask for sushi and your mouth will start to water before you dig into it because they did a damn good job of putting your plate together.

There seems to be a surge of Japanese restaurants in Kampala, and I am appreciative of the fact that that gives us options and we can pick and choose where we would like to eat. That said, I’ve been to all of them and can put one hand on my chest and say Yamasen offers something different. In this case the saying “if you’ve seen one you’ve seen it all,” does NOT apply.

The cooking itself is done impeccably. If you ask for a pork platter for example you will get pork cooked three different ways. It will come along with some additions like spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin and wasabi. If you ask for a tempura platter it will also come along with an assortment of vegetables and starches and OKRA – which for us Ugandans is a Kyangwe in its very young stages. (Yes, a bit shocking I know). It will also come with your choice of fish or chicken. Steamed rice will come along with miso soup, and of course the sushi is amazing. If there is a meal you’ve had that you think is a must try, let me know in the comments.

The tempura platter is not big in quantity though so keep that in mind when you order it. The miso soup that comes along with steamed rice is also quite bland and can taste like you’ve added water to your rice. I guess this is an acquired taste and I applaud Japanese people for slurping away and being happy eating it. You can ask for a side of soy sauce, or use any one of the dips you have with your meals as a supplement. Their sesame sauce is amazing.

Food prices range from UGX  15,000 for starters and can go upwards of UGX 70,000 depending on what you would like to order. A comfortable average sized meal like their Sentongo’s farm chicken steak or Dickson’s pork steak is UGX 45,000 and with it you get either chicken or pork respectively, sauce chosen out of three options, and a side dish of three options. Wine is UGX 19,000 or less per glass depending on your choice and they serve beer as well as hard liquor.

Lastly, you know those pretty pavement designs where compound tiles have perforations and it makes for a beautiful design? Yeah perfect for if you are going to be stomping around in flats. Not so perfect if you are going to wear heels, so ladies watch your step and make sure you leave with your ankles intact.

On the whole I’d say, nice restaurant. I would certainly go again, and I would recommend it to a friend. (Otherwise it would not be on my review list ;).

Is there a new place that you’ve been to that you think is worth my checking out? Let me know in the comments below.

PS: this post is not sponsored.