Due to the demolition of the old Birmingham Library at Paradise Forum, one of the city’s favourite venues Woktastic, owned and run by the convivial Ali, had to shut up shop in January. The restaurant is moving but due to complications with leases etc. it’s taking a little longer than planned. Ali is still remaining tight lipped about where and when the new Woktastic will open but it is going to be in the city centre. Not one to be idle while Woktastic has been closed, Ali has been setting up a little sister restaurant under a new brand name – Yakinori. As loyal Woktastic customers we’ve been craving a decent chicken katsu and sushi since the restaurant shut its doors – thank goodness then that with the opening of the first of two Yakinori branches, this one in Selly Oak, we can quell our hunger for our favourite Japanese foods.
With around 40 covers over shared bench seating Yakinori Selly Oak serves up à la carte sushi, ramen, katsu, and all the other Woktastic favourites. The interior is colourful and the walls wrapped with animé graphics floor to ceiling, and an open bustling kitchen. It feels like a fun and relaxed place to eat and it’s been perfect for us for a chatty dinner with friends, and on another occasion a quick after-work bite to eat when we’d been working late.
To start we tried some mixed plates of sushi. Firstly, for £12.50, a 13 piece Salmon Sake Geta which included salmon nigiri, salmon sashimi, salmon gunkan, salmon avocado biso, salmon maki, and a salmon avocado hand roll. The dinnerware the restaurant has chosen is beautiful and sets off the sushi wonderfully – it looks more like you would get in one of the fine dining restaurants in town than in a fun friendly restaurant, but it does remind you this place is serious about making great food! As you can see the Salmon Sake Geta plate looked great, and it all tasted great too. The salmon was plump and soft and the presentation and seasoning spot on. We also had a the Salmon and Avocado Heaven platter at £10.95 for 12 pieces including avocado nigiri, salmon nigiri, and salmon and avocado biso. It was equally as good, with perfectly ripe avocado.
For mains we had to try our favourite, Chicken Katsu Curry (£8.95). It’s a rich but not hot curry, with sliced breadcrumbed and fried chicken, okra, potato, rice, and pickled ginger. It was as good as we remembered it at Woktastic! The main dishes are very large, so you should go with a good appetite. We’ve also had the Chicken Kokonatsu curry at £8.75. This was a very spicy curry with coconut, lemongrass, red chilli, shrimp paste, galangal, ginger, veg, and crumbed and grilled chicken. It was served with sticky rice. Hot enough to give me a runny nose, it was just what I wanted.
While we await the opening of the new Woktastic (watch this space for imminent news of its announcement) Yakinori is offering a very reliable alternative. With it being just a 5 minute drive from home, I see a lot of chicken katsu in my future…