On the eastern stretch of Guyang Lu, straddling the border between Gubei and Xuhui district, is a somewhat hidden block of Taiwanese and Japanese restaurants. We’ve tried a handful, all of them worth writing about it at a later date, but the standout for us so far is Yamatoya, which, while retaining some izakaya-ish features (there is a separate shochu bar and plenty of Japanese business folk talking shop), is popular because the food is pretty damn good.
We were at Yamatoya when the weather had yet to turn, so the oden was particularly welcome. A traditional stewed dish that here consisted of eggs, potatoes, radish, and fish cakes, the sheer simplicity and delicacy of its flavors delightfully rub up against the brawny mustard along with which it is served. The tai (sea bream) sashimi platter, sliced and placed in an inviting carousel, was supremely fresh; the cod croquettes a crusty, steaming pleasure. Instead of dessert, we revisited the snack menu, and dove into a plate of deep fried lotus root crisps that rivaled the best bag of kettle-fried potato chips we’ve ever had.
Wash down with shochu or ice-cold Asahi in stone mugs, lean back against the wall, rub your stomach in a perversely giddy motion, and you’ll have performed a repeat of how we sat after the meal.
Expect to pay around 150-200 RMB per person for the privilege. And don’t get it mixed up with the Yamatoya Italian restaurant upstairs; it might be good, we just haven’t tried it yet.
Yamatoya – No. 459 Guyang Lu, near Yaohong Lu (古羊路459号, 近姚虹路) Tel: 5477-5771
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.