Source : www.tourist-note.com
Delicious yet often inexpensive, yakitori (焼き鳥) is one of Japan’s most popular dishes. Literally translated as “grilled chicken”, yakitori is bite size pieces of skewered meat which are grilled over charcoal. Yakitori is a common food in Japan and it is usually enjoyed alongside a nice glass of beer.
One thing that differentiates yakitori from the traditional kebabs found in Western countries is that many different parts of the chicken are used in its preparation. Familiar cuts of meat are used, such as the breasts and thighs, but other parts of the chicken like the skin, liver, and intestines are also used. Whether you like trying new things or sticking to something more familiar, there is a yakitori to satisfy everyone’s taste. Let’s take a look at some of the different kinds of yakitori and some of the best places in Japan to find them.
Types of Yakitori
Momo (もも) skewers are made from pieces of chicken thigh. This is a good choice if you are just getting started with yakitori.
If you have had yakitori outside of Japan, Negima (ねぎま) is most likely the kind you had. It is made from pieces of chicken, usually the thigh meat, and is skewered along with chunks of negi (a type of leek).
Nankotsu (なんこつ) is cartilage taken from the pointed end of the breastbone. It is distinguished by its crunchy texture and is a great choice for those on a diet since it is lower in calories than other parts of the chicken.
Tsukune (つくね) feature skewered meatballs or long patties prepared using minced chicken, egg, vegetables, and spices. The ingredients and seasonings vary greatly depending on the restaurant, so you can sample different tsukune to find your favorite.
Kawa (かわ) is also known as torikawa (とりかわ) and features crispy, grilled strips of fatty chicken skin. It is sometimes served with the chicken neck still attached to it.
Reba (レバー) are skewered chicken livers. Even if you do not like liver, you may still like this type of yakitori since it is made with the highest quality livers. This gives reba a rich, flavorful taste as opposed to the blandness of the standard livers you may have had before.
Although yakitori traditionally refers to grilled parts of a chicken, many yakitori restaurants also offer other types of skewered meat and vegetables, including pork (rib meat or organs), beef tongue, tofu, green bell pepper, and asparagus wrapped in bacon.
Types of Seasoning
There are two main types of seasoning used for yakitori: salt and tare sauce. Salted yakitori offers a simple, classic flavor, while the tare sauce has a soy sauce base which is mixed with mirin, sake, and sugar, offering a salty-sweet flavor. Some other spices used include wasabi, black pepper, Japanese pepper, cayenne pepper, and shichimi. The type of seasoning you should choose depends on your personal taste. However, it is also good to ask the staff at the restaurant which seasoning they would recommend since the taste of certain yakitori is enhanced depending on which seasoning is used.
Where to Go
Since yakitori is such a common food in Japan, it can easily be found anywhere you go. Below are a few of the most popular places to get delicious yakitori.
With 62 restaurants across Japan, this popular chain restaurant offers yakitori, as well as some other Japanese favorites such as chicken sashimi, gyoza dumplings with chicken, and soba noodles. One skewer of yakitori here costs between 130 to 300 yen.
Tori Tetsu Hamamatsucho
Address: 2-4-12, Hamamatsucho, Minato, Tokyo
Bird Land Ginza
If you are looking for a gourmet yakitori restaurant, Bird Land Ginza is one of the best and received a Michelin star in 2015 .You can choose from a five item course for 6300 yen or an eight item course for 8400 yen. They also offer wines paired with their yakitori for the best taste experience.
Address: B1F, Tsukamoto Soyama Building, 4-2-15, Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
Torikizoku is another popular chain restaurant with locations throughout Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya. Here you can get two skewers and a drink for just 280 yen, with everything in this restaurant within this same budget-friendly price which makes it a great choice for those looking for an option that is easy on the wallet.
Address: 3-26-5, Ryogoku, Sumida, Tokyo
Yakitori Daikichi is a chain restaurant that offers around 20 different varieties of yakitori which range from 120 yen to 140 yen, and you can also choose a drink from their delicious selection of beers. Here you can taste unique creations since each restaurant owner is allowed to add their own dishes to the menu.
Yakitori Daikichi Katsura
Address: 7-4 Goryo Shigitani Nishikyo-Ku, Kyoto, Kyoto