Yugen Dining

Chapel Street's sumptuous subterranean Japanese diner and bar has a flair for the dramatic.
Libby Curran
Published on July 01, 2023
Updated on August 25, 2023


In a two-level subterranean space beneath sibling Yugen Tea Bar, sits the luxurious Japanese restaurant Yugen Dining. It's a multi-faceted drinking and dining destination with a dramatic aesthetic and an impressive commitment to detail.

Downstairs is home to a lofty, open restaurant space and adjacent bar area with soaring ceilings and a majestic chandelier by artist Jennifer Conroy Smith cascading from one corner.

Gareth Sobey

Meanwhile, the mezzanine above plays host to Yugen's six-seat omakase bar and a series of private dining rooms — including the eight-person Golden Orb that's suspended in mid-air. The striking fit-out by Architects EAT draws inspiration from the five elements according to Japanese culture: earth (chi), water (sui), fire (ka), wind (fu) and void (ku).

Culinary Director of Yugen Dining  Stephen Nairn heads the creatively-charged a la carte food offering, paying equal respect to the traditional and the contemporary.

Chef Alex Yu carfelly plating dishes at Yugen Dining in Melbourne

Julia Sansone

Highlights include the likes of shio-koji-marinated wagyu with tarragon and seaweed sauce; a silky smoked eel chawanmushi glistening with brown butter and spiked with crispy chicken skin; and a memorable take on the humble prawn toast featuring Chinese doughnut and a sweet-meets-sour chilli amazu. A stellar sushi and sashimi situation also awaits.

Scallop fried rice might feature kani miso, crispy lamb ribs are done with a shiitake soy glaze and green Sichuan crumble, and a dedicated late-night menu is on offer after 10pm on weekends.

Julia Sansone

Meanwhile, the omakase bar showcases the masterful talents of Head Chef Alex Yu, across an experiential dining adventure with a beverage pairing also available. It's a study in sharp technique and top-notch produce that promises plenty of 'wow' moments.

A vast, yet considered array of quality sips beckons from the drinks list at Yugen Dining as well — with a strong spread of sake and wines to round out the fun.

A mid-range shot of a dining table at Yugen Dining.

Marcel Aucar

Images: Gareth Sobey, Marcel Aucar, Julia Sansone and Sam Davis.


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