Channelling the excitement of air travel

If you’ve ever been to Yakinikumafia in the colourful Tokyo district of Kabukicho, you’ll recall it’s sleek interiors and outstanding Japanese Wagyu. Now there’s a Yakinikumafia in Hong Kong and, thanks to local design studio Bean Buro, it’s lost none of its funky character.

“We created a poetic narrative drawn from the nostalgia, excitement and glamour of air travel,” says Bean Buro co-founder Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. “From a time when airports were considered a highly theatrical space for humanistic exchanges.”

From the moment you see the airport-inspired information flip-board in reception – and the beer taps on the reception desk – it’s clear you’re in for a unique experience. Airport-style signage points the way past a wall of meat fridges, displaying various cuts of wagyu beef, to a gleaming yakiniku bar where chefs and customers interact. Original ceiling beams, plus new ones clad in stainless steel, form a striking diagonal grid over the open space. There are booths and private rooms.

The restaurant was designed and constructed throughout the lockdown due to the Coronavirus. It opened just as the city began to ease its social distancing restrictions. “The project’s ethos was to ‘ride out’ the challenges”, says co-founder Lorène Faure. It’s a message aimed at patrons, as well local farmers and producers who provide the restaurant’s beef. “Ride It Out” appears at regular intervals on the flip-board, along with prices of steak and other messages.

The design is minimalistic, to allow customers to focus on the food in a powerful architectural setting, fashioned with stainless steel and natural timbers. The open kitchen provides the theatrical element that Kenny references in the overall theme. Duck green leather seating offers a luxurious feel.