Yubisu Bar & Grill- Haymarket

Best lunch sets in the city? Really? Really really?

Ok, here are the five reasons why I think we’ve never previously stumbled upon Yubisu Bar & Grill before, located on Dixon street in between Hay and Goulburn streets:

One. Obstacles & Crowds– due to the various obstacles and crowds along this stretch of Dixon, by percentages we are less likely to walk along this stretch as we want to get from point A to B as quickly as possible, so we usually avoid this part of Chinatown.

Two. Familiarity/unfamiliarity– Because lower Dixon is the heart of old Chinatown, we presume we know what is along this stretch so we’re not looking out for anything new popping up, but now that we’re looking out for stuff we’re realising we’re actually not that familiar with the shops that line this part of Dixon.  

Three. Nothing good is along this stretch of Dixon– This part of Dixon is known for random clothing stores and touristy stores, but not known for trendy restaurants in the past 5 years, at least we haven’t dined at any of these restaurants in between Hay and Goulburn.

Four. Width– Because Dixon Street is relatively wide we usually walk along the centre of the pedestrian mall, so with the obstacles along Dixon street, you don’t actually see much of the shopfronts.

Five. Keep left– But if we ever do walk along one side of Dixon, we would usually keep left while walking towards Hay street, so we would rarely see the shops along the left hand side when walking towards Goulburn street so the odds are against us walking by Yubisu Bar & Grill (as after the slow passage down, we would usually use another route to get home).

So for these reasons, on this Sunday afternoon we noticed Yubisu Bar & Grill for the first time; as we were studying every stores’ signage as we walked, as we still hadn’t made up our minds what we wanted for lunch after finding Gumshara packed out as usual.

**Note: Earlier this very morning I was telling my wife about Yakiniku (Japanese grilled meats), so when we saw a Japanese restaurant with the words ‘Grill’ in its name, we naturally went in to check-it-out.

Yubisu Bar & Grill is a restaurant located on the second floor, but once you enter the unmanned ground floor foyer you already know that there’s something special about this place! As echoing around the foyer was trendy jazzy music, and as you checked out the list of lunch specials and followed the music up the stairs, I felt I was being lured by the Pied Piper led along by my sense of smell and sound!

After a short wait we were seen to our table, two thick menu folders were placed before us and ordering was done through the iPad which was balancing on our table.

As we were lured in by their Lunch Sets, we focused most of our attention on that section and I settled on the Sunday Lunch Special- Japanese Curry Rice Lunch Set ($18.00, normally $22.50), while my wife settled on the BBQ Pork Belly lunch set ($19.50).

And as we waited for our orders to be processed, we checked out the restaurant. On one wall was a mural of Mount Fuji, and on the ceiling were cartoon-y prints of cherry-blossoms. And their chairs! OMG! It had to be the most comfortable restaurant chair I’ve sat in, in a long time! It had padded armrests at the perfect height, and the back support was equally perfect! Like it was custom designed for me! A 5 foot Asian male! Ahhhhhhh! 

On paper the Lunch Sets seemed a little pricy, but considering that you get everything you need in that single order i.e. main, sides, a drink, and dessert! It’s actually quite reasonably priced, as there is no need to fork-out any more cash. Hmmmm, maybe that’s the definition of a Lunch Set? *Shrugs*.

My lunch set – Japanese Curry (with Crispy Chicken Katsu) came in two halves. On one tray was a stone sizzling bowl containing my rice, curry and actually two types of fried meats (chicken and beef). The curry was what you’d expect from Japanese curry, and having it served in stone guaranteed that right to the last bite 45 minutes later, the food was still just as hot as the first bite! Mmmmmmm.

On the other tray was the sides (green salad, miso soup, Agedashi (fried tofu), green tea Tiramisu, and a choice of hot or cold green tea (which came in advance of your meal)). I powered through my hot meal first before digging into the tofu; and rounded out the meal with the dessert! And I was so full and it was very satisfying – meeting every need in the Maslow dining pyramid of needs (if there isn’t one, Maslow should have developed one!).

My wife’s lunch set was the BBQ Pork Belly. The pork were thinly sliced (like what you’d usually get on top of a bowl of ramen), but this was cooked over a charcoal grill so it was smoky in flavour. But unfortunately the meat was a little tough, so it was hard to tear the pieces of meat into smaller, more easy to consume pieces. So you end up pushing the entire piece of meat into your mouth at one go, which for a lady it was a bit un-lady like. Hey! I did it as well when I tried a piece, needing to cover my mouth with the napkin as I slowly chewed my way through the meat. So it was a little bit uncomfortable for both genders of diners to eat.

Our end verdict, 4.5 Stars from 5! (2.5 from 3 for Food (I was pleased with each element of my lunch set, and although the grilled meat was a bit difficult to eat- but it still had all the right flavours!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (like all Japanese restaurants, the service was flawless); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the look and feel of the restaurant was high-class, considering it was located in the oldest part of Chinatown- where most of the stores are a little run-down. And their mood music? It set a trendy cool vibe….. Dare I say…..it felt like Melbourne?); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Under 40 bucks for 2 people, where you got everything you could possibly ask for in a meal? That’s a bargain!)).

In conclusion, we were pleasantly surprised to find a trendy and quality Japanese restaurant here on lower Dixon, just when we least expected it! #Expect the unexpected! And these days in the competitive lunch specials market, where all restaurants want your lunch dollars – I think we’ve just found our go-to restaurant when we’re looking for a quality and affordable lunch set meal! #Blessed!

Yubisu Bar & Grill- Sunday 2 June (4.5 Stars)

PH: (02) 8880 5536

55 Dixon Street, Haymarket

Mon-Wed 12 noon – 4pm, 5.30pm – 11pm

Thurs-Fri 12 noon – 4pm, 5.30pm – 12 midnight

Sat 12 noon – 12 midnight

Sun 12 noon – 11pm

Booking is advisable.

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