One month, two hats.

That’s how it went for Yugen, a brand-new modern Asian restaurant – one of the most dazzling openings to grace Chapel Street in recent memory – at the 2023 Good Food Guide Awards, after opening just weeks earlier.

Brought to life by design firm Architects Eat on the former site of Q Bar, it’s a subterranean masterpiece told in three parts: a bar, dining room and private dining space; a six-seat omakase bar; and a golden orb suspended from the ceiling that seats another six to 10, all backdropped by a six-metre-tall bar and some exquisite chandelier work.

It’s a lot to take in, and there’s just as much to ponder on Alex Yu’s wide-ranging menu, from Chinese youtiao doughnuts magicked into prawn toasts, to sashimi platters that are as elegant and ambitious as the space they’re served in.

Here’s Yu with how you might tackle an evening at Yugen.

How about a drink?
I love cocktails and our Ume Negroni is always a great start for the night.

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
Sit in our mezzanine lounge area and enjoy the chef’s selection sashimi platter. A great way to get a range of flavour combinations all at once. If you have the time to squeeze in a little more, our chicken and beef skewers to finish. Pair these with our Bamboo Highball signature cocktail and enjoy the view from above.

Got anything light and fresh?
Order our sashimi platter or the red snapper and jamon sashimi. Our extra-large wild Tasmanian oysters and our spicy papaya salad are also great fresh options.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals
There are plenty of options for our plant-based diners. I love our silken tofu with chilli and roasted sesame. Our mushroom and miso skewers are always a lovely treat and our spicy papaya salad is a classic.

Name the dish that is quintessentially Yugen
Definitely the prawn toast. When I created this dish, I wanted it to communicate Yugen’s identity as much as possible: a modern interpretation of traditional techniques and flavours.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
If you love sashimi and want to try something different and rare, give the team some notice before booking and Yugen will create a large, premium sashimi platter. Presented in an artistic and floral-like arrangement, this is definitely not your average platter. It looks crazy for sure. Similarly, our diamond shell mud crab with salt and vinegar, Sichuan oil and mayo is an equally as impressive and indulgent dish. Full of flavour, and a crazy thing to eat with the entire crab presented on the platter.

And to close?
The super talented chef John Demetrios looks after all our pastries for our restaurants. I love the strawberry ice-cream with charred mochi and matcha – a great combination of flavours and a perfect way to end a meal. If you’re more of a chocolate lover, try his chocolate delice with roasted soy and yuzu caramel.

Yugen, inside the Capitol Grand, 605 Chapel St, South Yarra, (03) 8080 8080, open 6pm-late Wed-Sun,