A taste of home at Bills in Yokohama, Japan

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

After two weeks of travelling around Japan we tourists were in dire need or a red meat fix. Not quite used to the Japanese diet of rice, fish, chicken and seafood every day - with little fresh fruit or vegetables - our iron levels had slowly decreased throughout the trip to leave us slow, tired and lethargic. When we read that Bill Granger, a local Aussie chef, had set up a restaurant in Yokohama in Japan, we made a unanimous decision to eat there and get a taste of home. The restaurant is nestled inside one of two side by side red brick warehouse buildings in the harbour city of Yokohama, about a 40 minute train ride from Tokyo near the sea. We approached the airy, beach-themed restaurant at 11am for brunch, and were told by the hostess that there weren't any tables free until 1pm. Not to worry - there were lots to do in Yokohama (including the famous Cup Noodle Museum!), so we put our names down to return later on for lunch.

Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Buildings

At his Yokohama restaurant, Bill has brought the modern Australian beach eatery to the streets of Japan. The décor, not dissimilar to the sort you would find at a coastal beachfront café, reminded us of sunny Australia and the relaxed, chilled atmosphere that it is ubiquitous for.
We were seated at one of two booths, comfortable enough for a group of 5-8, and given English menus that featured the brunch, lunch and drinks options: soups & sandwiches, small dishes, salads, bills classics, pasta & rice, mains and desserts.

We were tempted to try his infamous ricotta hotcakes, but our lunch hunger got the better of us and we opted for more nutritious fare. Seeing mainly Australian-type cuisine such as pasta, curry, burgers, salads and sandwiches was a change from all the noodles and rice we'd been eating every day of our trip.


The bills daily green juice was a blend of spinach, cucumber, green apple, chia and coconut water, and boy, did it look good for you! The cucumber and apple really stood out, providing a wholesome, healthy drink that is bound to cleanse the body. As cool as a cucumber. 
Lettuce and avocado salad, Bills daily greens juice

Aaahh! Fresh greens! Salad! The lettuce and avocado salad was refreshing and clean, smothered in a rich green goddess dressing. Crisp leaves of bright green butter lettuce nestled alongside hefty chunks of creamy avocado whet our appetite for the glorious Western fare that was to follow. Oh the feeling, to be so excited about a simple green salad!

 Wagyu Beef Burger with all the fillings inside

Oh, glorious red meat. Not that there was a lack of it in Japan, but rather not an abundance like there is at home. Mum and Dad both ordered the Wagyu Beef Burger - a cute, medium-rare beef patty nestled in a soft brioche bun with typical fillings served on the side - lettuce, beetroot, tomato relish and homemade zucchini pickles. It was served slightly pink and was lovely and moist, although a little hard to grasp if you tried to stuff all the sides inside! I'd reccomend eating them on the side, smearing the tomato relish on the bun and maybe stuffing in a little lettuc for some crunch.

 Herby fries

And what's a burger without a side of fries? These were called 'herby fries' - light, crunchy French fries patched with bright green herbs that were moreish and lightly salted.

Fragrant fish and coconut curry

I had the fragrant fish and coconut curry, served with jasmine rice and cucumber relish. The curry was lovely and aromatic with a yellow, coconutty gravy that was sprinkled with golden fried shallots. The fish was perfectly tender, quite firm, and there were some snow peas and red capsicum in the curry, too. Thin ribbons of sour cucumber went perfectly to balance the rich, spicy curry.

CK had what she loves - a prawn and chilli linguine. The pasta was interesting as it had lots of Asian flavours - ginger, garlic, as well as coriander strewn throughout the silky linguine. An unusual fusion of Asian and Western cuisine, but something that was original and worked really well nevertheless. Unfortunately there's no picture here.

There was a waiter who spoke English in the restaurant, which was a welcome change from all Japanese-speaking people we'd spoken to everywhere on our trip. She recommended some of the dishes, and was very warm and welcoming. The whole atmosphere was relaxing, cool and felt almost as if we were back home in Sydney again. I guess when you go on holiday there's always a little part of you that longs for the familiarity of home. Bills provided us with that culinary satisfaction - a taste of home in Japan.


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