Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion – This is a Gem! Food is Amazing!

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Exteriors

Last week, I was invited to try Yoi Sake Bar & Restaurant in Poblacion. It’s a Japanese-Scandinavian Sake Bar that is getting noticed by local online publications, and I was curious.

YOI – experimental kitchen and sake bar

Yoi is from young entrepreneur Tadeo Chua, who is also a Japan-certified sake sommelier, while food is helmed by Chef Chris Villasor, formerly of Kai, another Japanese restaurant I have fond memories of.

Yoi Poblacion Chef Chris Villasor 2

Chef Chris Villasor, right

Yoi is located just a block away from Kalayaan Ave. in Makati, and is a few blocks from Rockwell. Getting there, despite the traffic, was not the problem. Parking was. There was just no provision for guest parking. I ended up parking in the street in front, so I just made arrangements with a bantay to watch my car. Alternatively, you can walk if you work or live nearby, or you can go via Grab or a taxi.

Yoi Sake Bar Map Poblacion

Outside, Yoi looks like an old bodega that’s been converted into a club. Inside, Yoi is dark. Only the kitchen area was well-lit. It felt a bit Gothic, actually 🙂 At this point, I really did not know what to expect of the food.

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Interiors 2

The restaurant is small and probably only seats 30-40. There is a sake bar on the other side, just beyond a door. It’s kind of a “hidden” area.

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Interiors

Take note that Yoi is only open at night (7PM – 2AM). They have live music on Fridays, so if you just want to enjoy the food without loud music, go on other nights. We went on a Tuesday night and had a great time!

THE FOOD

For the first dish, we were served some Tako (P345). At first we all thought it was a “taco” and I was thinking that this doesn’t look like any taco I’d seen 😀 Upon clarification, it’s actually tako, the Japanese word for octopus. It was just the first dish but it was so good – it was earthy with thinly sliced mushrooms, there was some acidity, some fragrant oil, richness from maybe tomato (?), melted cheese, and generous slices of thinly-sliced octopus. Anyway, it was really good. I couldn’t stop eating it. It doesn’t taste typically Japanese but it was delicious. I’m impressed!

Yoi Poblacion Tako

Oysters (P285) – the oysters were fresh, and the mushroom cream was flavorful and creamy!!! Move aside Rockefeller, these oysters topped with mushroom cream (definitely not from a can!) and melted Havarti cheese are now my favorite way of enjoying these morsels!

Yoi Poblacion Oysters

Rye Sourdough (P160) – their sourdough is lighter and airier than a typical sourdough, but the star of this dish is their freshly churned butter! The butter tastes so fresh, the bread is just an excuse to eat more butter. We were joking that we were eating butter with a side of bread 😀

Yoi Poblacion Rye Sourdough

Shrimp (P290) – this is shrimp on a pool of coconut wasabi bisque. Out of all the dishes, this was my least favorite, but I still grabbed some bread to wipe that sauce off the plate, hahaha. It’s like a concentrated shrimp curry that’s hot from the wasabi, and it was still delicious, even though it wasn’t my favorite.

Yoi Poblacion Shrimp Coconut Wasabi

Fish & Liver (P360) – I thought I wouldn’t like this, but it turned out to be my favorite dish of the night. There is sushi rice, diced salmon, pickled shiitake, all covered with shredded liver. It is topped with crunchy purple cabbage that’s like “chicheria” because we just wanted to keep munching it 🙂 There are so many flavors going on in this dish, but it’s like a symphony. Sweet, sour, salmon, mushroom, creamy liver, crunchy cabbage. The liver taste isn’t overpowering. People who didn’t like liver didn’t mind the liver in this dish at all. The liver actually made the whole dish taste very creamy.

Yoi Poblacion Fish and Liver

Egg on Egg on Egg (P195) – very pretty to look at, and very tempting to try! This has a base of soft steamed egg custard (like a chawan mushi), and is topped with the big orange roe (ikura), and caviar (salty). Something to try at least once. The flavor is okay, but I think it’s too much egg on egg on egg to want to have a second time. Unless you really love all kinds of eggs, then you’ll probably enjoy the heck out of this 🙂

Yoi Poblacion Egg on Egg on Egg

Salmon (P595) – for our main dish, we had pan-fried medium-cooked salmon on a bed of rich spinach uni (sea urchin) rice, sauced with some ikura yogurt (creamy sour with bursts of fishy saltiness) and foam. The crispy purple cabbage and the sweet & salty fried mushrooms were something we couldn’t stop munching on. While the flavors of the previous dishes popped more and made more of an impression, the flavors here were milder but still delicious. The milder flavors will allow you to fill up and satisfy your hunger without overdosing on strong flavors. Where else can you get this kind of dish for only P595?

Yoi Poblacion Salmon Main Dish

Yoi Poblacion Salmon Main Dish 2

For drinks, we tried four different sakes, but I couldn’t tell you any more about them except that they all had Japanese names and they opened my eyes to a whole new world of sake! Aside from the regular rice wine we’re familiar with, there are actually more, and better, sake out there! There are those that taste crisp and bright, there are those that are more fuller-bodied with more complex flavors, like good white wines!

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Bottles

UNLI-SAKE PROMO

They have a promo for unli-sake every Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at P700 / person! Four different kinds of sake (Japanese sake is more commonly referred to nowadays as nihonshu) are included in the promo.

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Unli Sake Promo

Yoi Sake Bar Poblacion Unli Sake Promo 1

Update:  I was able to get a list of the sake from Tadeo. These are the ones that we had:

Name: Meijo Junmai Shu
Origin: Hyogo Prefecture
Category: Junmai (without distilled alcohol, rice polishing <70%)
Profile: Dry and Bodied
Pairing: Tako

Name: Ishichi Omachi
Origin: Okayama Prefecture
Category: Nama Junmai Daiginjo (unpasteurized, without distilled alcohol, rice polishing <50%)
Profile: with notes of ripe pineapple, banana and green apple on the nose, bodied, sweet, fresh, fruity
Pairing: Shrimp Bisque

Name: Daimon 35
Origin: Osaka Prefecture
Category: Junmai Daiginjo (without distilled alcohol, 35% rice polishing)
Profile: very sweet and very umami, bodied
Pairing: Fish & Liver

Name: Hakutsuru Kinkan
Origin: Hyogo Prefecture
Category: Junmai (without distilled alcohol, rice polishing <70%)
Profile: Bodied, Balanced
Pairing: Salmon

SUMMARY

Amazing, innovative dishes! Must orders for me on my return visit are the Tako and the Fish & Liver, but everything was fantastic.

The different sake that we were given to try showed me that there’s really more to sake than just a simple rice wine. There’s a whole world of sake, just like wine – there are dry sake, unpasteurized sake, and even full-bodied sake that is actually getting close to how a white wine tastes like. You can also pair sake with different dishes and they have pairing recommendations.

My only problem with Yoi is the lack of parking. Well, it is Poblacion and parking is really an issue when going to Poblacion. When I went to Yoi, I riskily parked on the street and made arrangements with a guy to watch my car. It’s really a problem for people who don’t live nearby. You’ll either have to try your luck with Grab or take a taxi. Or park at Powerplant Mall and walk the few blocks to Yoi. But the food is really worth the effort. The price is very reasonable for the quality of the food you get. It’s like getting Top Chef creations at mid-range prices. Totally recommended if you find regular restaurants’ food boring and lame, because Yoi’s food is fantastic and wonderful, especially considering the price! Their flavor and texture contrasts, as well as their ingredient combinations, make the food freakin’ outstanding!

I seriously want to go back and take loved ones to try Yoi because I don’t want them to miss out on trying these amazing dishes. Ganoon kasarap! 🙂

Yoi Sake Bar and Restaurant
5579 Alfonso corner Fermina Streets, Poblacion, Makati
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yoipblcn/
Contact: 0917 105 5832
Hours: 7PM – 2AM

YOI Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



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xoxo,

Karen

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