EATS AND DRINKS,  RALEIGH DURHAM LIVING

Yamazushi Dinner

I had first learned about Yamazushi years ago on Bull City subreddit. Located in an unassuming spot at Woodcroft Shopping Center, Yamazushi is known for their Kaiseki, or traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. I finally had a chance to experience Yamazushi this past week so I thought I’d document this on the blog to share with you!

WHAT YOU’RE SIGNING UP FOR & RESERVATION PROCESS

Yamazushi does Kaiseki-style dinners exclusively with specific menu items changing seasonally. At $150 price tag per person (and 20% gratuity), it’s not an everyday or even a casual date night spot (definitely the most expensive meal I’ve personally had in life so far!). They’re only open on Thursdays and Fridays and serve two tables of four each evening. So there’s quite a bit of limitation since they do not accommodate a larger group or an intimate dinner for two.

At this time, they are booked out through the rest of 2022 but I suggest calling and putting your name on the waitlist! We had been on the waitlist for some months when we were notified of a reservation opening about a month out due to a cancellation. They are switching to tea-only service next year so if you’ve been wanting to try their Kaiseki dinner, this is your chance!

I don’t know where to put this information so I’m putting it here: you’re going to take off your outside shoes and put on slippers they put out for you. I wish I had worn socks because the slippers were furry (maybe this is TMI lol).

THE FOOD

Since there is a set menu, this will be more of what each course may look like vs any specific recommendations like I typically share. You can add a sake pairing for $50 per person but we opted to share a bottle of sake for around the same price instead (I think there were four sakes to choose from). Something I do recommend is to do the matcha which is $10 per person (not everyone at the table has to get it). It was such an experience! We even got to choose our own bowl.

Here’s what the Kaiseki dinner looks like:

Appetizer – it had some sort of melon as the base!

Sashimi – from left to right: squid, tuna, yellowtail

Deep fried dish – scallop in the front, assorted veggies in the back

Medley of various flavors – assorted veggies that were pickled and marinated in different ways with a dragonfruit with chicken pieces on top

Intermission – not pictured; it was a drinkable liquid in a spoon!

Grilled dish – sea bass; this was my favorite course!

Rice dish – a couple of nigiris; we were given soy sauce and a brush to put the soy sauce on the salmon

Hot pot – seafood, veggies, and noodles; it cooks right in front of you

Sweets – chocolate-dipped strawberry covered in mochi

To be quite frank, I didn’t find the food to be mind-blowing or life changing. I feel this way about most fine-dining places though and I generally don’t have complaints as long as the food is pretty good and the service is outstanding. For Yamazushi, there were a couple of courses I was not particularly impressed by (i.e. hot pot tasted a bit bland to me but tbh Japanese food tastes like that to Korean taste buds) but most was decently good and there were a couple of amazing bites (the sea bass and the dessert).

THE EXPERIENCE

What I can say confidently is that I’ve never experienced anything like Yamzushi! The dinner almost felt like an intricate dance you’re participating in with lots of guidance. There is a lot of explanation with each course—what it represents, the meaning behind Japanese phrases, the ingredients, and how the dish was prepared. Everything felt intentional with the plates and utensils specifically and thoughtfully designed for each course. While the two Japanese wait staff ladies were present throughout the dinner, we never felt imposed upon or rushed or forgotten about (which I cannot say for all $$$ places sadly). Truly the best dining experience and service I’ve had!

As I wrote above, they are changing to tea-service only in 2023. I imagine it has something to do with Chef Yamazushi wanting to make it easier on himself but I’m actually excited about it! Having our matcha bowls prepared for us at the end of the dinner was one of my favorite parts, and tea service will make Yamazushi more affordable and accessible for many people. I’m excited to have a traditional Japanese tea house in the Triangle!

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