If you’re anything like me, it doesn’t matter if it’s 100° outside, ramen always sounds good. And Savannah’s ramen supply just grew with the Spring opening of Yatai. Not only can you slurp delicious noodles and broth, you can also enjoy an assortment of Japanese street food. Japanese street food is new to me and I couldn’t wait to jump in mouth first!
Yatai is a family owned restaurant but not their first venture. They also own Savannah favorites, Savannah Seafood Shack and Savannah Smokehouse. Upon walking into Yatai you’ll notice the cool, colorful anime murals on the walls. Created by local artist Alfredo Martinez, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of Savannah and into Japan. The fast casual establishment has social distance approved spaced tables, extensive cleaning every day, readily available hand sanitizer and all employees are checking temperatures and wearing masks.
Johnathan Tsoi, one of the owners, helped direct me to the best offerings on the menu…don’t judge me for the amount of food I’m about to consume! I started with the “small plates” portion of the menu and ordered takoyaki, pork belly buns, chicken karaage and pork gyoza. The pork belly buns blew me away, served peking duck style, these buns were fluffy, flavorful and delicious. The chicken karaage was crunchy and paired with a sticky, sweet and spicy sauce that was the perfect compliment. I love octopus but takoyaki (octopus dumplings) are something I haven’t tried, however trying everything is my job. The dough was light and airy and the octopus added a texture to the dumpling with a sweet sauce that tied it all together perfectly.
Next I moved over to the “fusion yakitori” part of the menu and ordered steak and chicken skewers. These were my favorite, the bite sized pieces were tender, juicy and flavored beautifully. I will be dreaming of these skewers for the next two weeks!
Now for ramen…this is where you can bring your creativity because you BYOB (build your own bowl) of ramen. I ordered one spicy mala and one tomato broth. Both were flavorful, salty (in a good ramen kind of way) and delicious. I love spice and often think when something is labeled spicy on the menu, it’s not that spicy, however, the spicy mala delivered…super spicy perfection that is nicely cooled with the noodles and vegetables. The noodles and veggies all tasted fresh and perfectly cooked. I got chicken in one of my bowls, very similar to the skewers, it was the perfect compliment to the spicy bowl. If spice is your jam, check back in a few months to take the “Spicy Ramen Challenge” and eat your way into spice nobility on their “Hall of Flame.”
Dine in or take out but don’t miss this Japanese gem. Grab your friends, grab your masks and slurp your way through lunch!
*For the gluten sensitive folks: for BYOB options: rice vermicelli noodles and tomato broth and any of the yakitori menu items that are not fried.