Yamato is located in the same cobbled laneway as our beloved Sichuan House, and it's been there at least 15 years. Every time I've seen it, I've remembered that it was recommended on easy as vegan pie (now half that lifetime ago!). It's difficult to pull Michael past SH's mapo tofu, but I have at last succeeded, on a Saturday night en route to the Corner Hotel.
For me, Yamato has two key points of appeal. First, it has the charming atmosphere of the small cafes we've visited in Japan - it's densely packed with furniture and cute knick-knacks, and there are kneeling tables for those who are keen on them. Second, the vegetarian entrees and mains are clearly set out separately in the menu, meaning no awkward investigations into stock and bonito flakes are needed.
The execution of those dishes doesn't rank quite as highly. The skin on our nasu dengaku ($8.30) was too tough to split with chopsticks or teeth; its seasoning was fine.
The Agadashi Combi ($13.10) was a pleasant assortment of battered veges and fried bean curd, but not the epitome of lightness or crunch.
For me, the Zaru Soba ($11.30) was the surprise winner! I loved the texture of the buckwheat noodles and the light flavour of their broth; some sly ice cubes were keeping it all fresh.
Our Yamato meal was modest, and modestly priced. While not every dish was brilliant, I can see myself sneaking in for a quiet slurp of soba and trialling something from the remaining dozen vege options.
Blog reviews of Yamato span a decade! It was a positive one on easy as vegan pie that led us there.
There are also positive reviews on Weekend Notes, Nurikko Visits, my name is Food, and Food Rehab, and reasonably positive reviews on Short & Stout, and Eat & Be Merry; bloggers are distinctly unimpressed on Espresso and Matcha, Sweet & Sour Fork, and The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar.
28 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
Accessibility: The laneway that Yamato is located in is cobbled, and there's a step on entry. The interior is very crowded, with a mixture of booths, standard height tables and kneeling tables. We ordered at our table and paid at a high counter. We didn't visit the toilets.