As Yamamori gets set to mark twenty-five years in business, we recently caught up with MD Graham Ryan, to see what’s new at one of our favourite spots to eat in Dublin. He talks to us about his longstanding involvement with the company his father founded a quarter of a century ago and their ongoing commitment to Japanese food and culture.
Graham, you have been serving your time in the restaurant business for a really long time. Tell us a bit about your background, your early involvement with Yamamori and your commitment to Japanese food and culture.
Well, I was 6 years old when Yamamori opened so I guess you could say I grew up in the business. Myself and my siblings were always here, and as the restaurant became busier and busier we were all roped in to help. So serving people and being around the business is completely natural for us all.
Japanese food was not just new to Dublin, it was new to our family but we all got behind it. Books, movies, Japanese sweets, cook books etc all started to become normal parts and accessories to our homes – they still are!
There have been a number of new Japanese restaurants opening in Dublin in the past few years. What makes a dining experience at Yamamori different?
We try to keep the experience at the core of what we do, so it’s not just about the food it’s also about entertainment and comfort. At Yamamori you’ll get music, audio visual, service and quality with a smile. I think 99% of the Japanese places that have opened are mostly working off a budget model, which is where we don’t want to be, so we put a lot of effort into our sourcing, training and experience etc. I don’t think other Japanese places are offering the love and care that we do.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the food and drink on offer at Yamamori? What’s your own favourite item from the menu?
Our inspiration and drive is to educate, Yamamori brought Japanese food to Dublin 25 years ago and we have added more dishes and authenticity to our offering as time moved on. We want to continue to do that along with improving ourselves and products. Finding the right quality products is a never ending journey.
My own favourite dish is the lunch bento, Yamamori’s hero dish. We introduced the bento in the late 90’s and it’s been the customers favourite ever since.
Yamamori has expanded over the years to include a number of restaurants and bars across Dublin. What differentiates the dining experience in each?
In each restaurant we like to give the head chefs the freedom to show off their own cooking style. They all have little differences but I guess it’s hard verbalise it. It’s best to come in and try it for yourself!
You pay close attention to the interior design of each location. What is the thinking behind the décor and art in your restaurants?
My Dad is crazy about design and has a very good eye for art and antiques. I think the shell of each place has its own story to tell, the South Georges Street locations are both Victorian era builds and Ormand Quay is Georgian so they offer a great canvas to start making an eclectic Japanese experience.
Again there is no simple formula, more of a collection that builds up as opposed to an overly planned or overly designed. There is a lot of personality and love in each place, I think that’s what makes them work so well.
You’re celebrating a big anniversary this year. Any plans to mark the occasion?
Yes! We are in our 25th year of business this year and will be having a BIG party next summer to celebrate – so watch this space! We just want to say thanks to all the great customers that keep coming back.