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YOKO DINING OFFICIALLY OPENS ITS DOORS

Restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess officially unveils the highly anticipated Yoko Dining, with doors opening tonight to Brisbane’s newest riverfront venue located at Howard Smith Wharves. 

His latest venture marks the second restaurant created by Barthelmess to satiate Brisbane diners, translating the energetic experience of Tokyo’s izakayas, music bars and pop-infused counterculture to a raucous split-level bistro. 

Set over two levels of dining, drinking and fun classics on vinyl, Yoko marries Brisbane’s breezy lifestyle with all the highlights of Japan’s sophisticated and sustainable cuisine restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess has enjoyed on his many travels to Tokyo. 

At the centre of the kitchen led by chef Kitak Lee (Cho Cho San, Kisumé, Momofuku Seiobo) is the hibachi charcoal grill – influencing Yoko’s seafood-leaning menu with smoke and char. The abundant menu celebrates Japanese classics, including a raw bar with fresh sashimi, tempura, seasonal gyoza, tempura, plentiful noodles and textural salads. 

They accompany large-format dishes including an authentic Tonkatsu, a premium wagyu selection and grilled reef fish with ponzu, all designed to share between friends over yuzu slushies, wine on tap or bottles from Yoko’s 100-strong wine list. Japan’s signature playful desserts will appear as the meal winds down (or gears up for more) including matcha soft serve, ice cream mochi with miso caramel and shaved milk ice.  

The design of the space is a vision brought to life by long-time collaborator and interior architect George Livissianis, who has united the rustic, heritage build of “beautiful old shed” on the wharf with a contemporary Japanese Spirit.

This sensory, intriguing and geometrically designed space features a Japanese ‘box’ structure of blond American Ash Plywood in an immersive design that wraps the space, juxtaposed against the wharf’s original timber framework. This simplistic, ordered Japanese aesthetic is then layered with an enlivening izakaya spirit created by the distinctive 80’s style futuristic lighting and pops of colour.

The resulting space exudes a retro futuristic feel which heightens in intrigue and curiosity as you’re lured up the stairs to Yoko’s mezzanine, a hidden bar and dining space highlighted with more obvious colour accents, found objects and sensory lighting design, offering a bird’s-eye view of the story unfolding below.