Milan is full of Japanese and Japanese-masked Chinese restaurants, so I decided to discover Gastronomia Yamamoto, looking for something different.
Its location immediately charmed me. Not only Yamamoto sits in the heart of Milan, but it’s in Via Amedei, just a few steps from Piazza Sant’Alessandro, where people can meet an atmosphere that brings back in time: buildings from the Renaissance with breath-taking courtyards, an impressive baroque church, and the Language School of the Statale University, whose students are used to sit on the church’s steps.
Inside of a ‘700 building, the gastronomy dominates the streets with many windows, where the Yamamoto logo is proudly displayed, as sketched Milan’s Duomo inside of a ramen bowl.
Entering the place, the high ceilings and the wooden chest of drawers immediately catch my eye, together with the dark wooden counter, where the daily offers are displayed, to take away or to enjoy while seating. There is also a vase of flowers, prepared following the Japanese ikebana tradition.
The bright yellow floor reminds me of the tatami fabric, and almost intrigues me in taking off the shoes.
Moving on from the counter, a long hallway brings us to a bigger room, that ends with the open kitchen. The panels game reminds us to the shoji traditional Japanese houses.
After pleasing our sight, it’s time for tasting the food, where simple dishes are served, that in Japan can be found in bakeries, gastro-bars and, most importantly, on homes’ tables.
Indeed, the founder Aya Yamamoto aims to recreate the familiar and chilled atmosphere that she found in her grandparent’s home, and to let the customers taste how is it like to eat at a Japanese’s house.
Aya explained that this is the result of almost two years of researches, studies, observation of Italian and Japanese gastronomies, and restaurants as Ottolenghi in London, where as soon as you enter, you immediately wish to eat everything.
The project was born from the will of narrating, through a skilled and passionate staff, the beauty and taste of the Japanese food, even to the ones that are skeptical about different cultures.
Maybe no one will expect to eat a sandwich, but here it is: a katsu sando, the gastronomy’s signature dish, a battered pork steak with tonkatsu sauce, made from vegetables and fruits brew, all inside of a loaf of bread. Also, no one would expect to be amazed by a simple white rice dish with pork steak and curry sauce. Another great plate is the hijiki no nimono, a cooked seaweed with fried tofu and veggies.
Also drinks are interesting: I tasted the Echigo beer, that is made with Japanese water, and it’s the only one that is imported directly from Japan. To end the lunch, the Umeshu plum liquor was offered to me as a beauty and stress-relief elixir.
Is it maybe ending the sushi and sashimi primacy as the only main dishes of the known Japanese food tradition?