Yakitori, or grilled chicken, is another of my favourite Japanese street or bar foods. You can find shops all over the country, and yakitori stalls at any event or festival.
Yakitori is all different parts of the chicken grilled over charcoal, using specfic wood to give the right smoky flavours to the meat. Using sauces and the right temperature, yakitori chefs dish out soft, succulent meat every time. Pictured above is tebasaki, chicken wingtips with the bone in. You can see the gentle charring from the coals over the skin.
Some of my favourite pieces of yakitori were the sort of thing you wouldn’t find over here. Chicken hearts, glazed, grilled and served with spicy Japanese mustard, are amazing. Quite chewy, and with an iron like taste, they’re an all together different taste to wing or breast. Also the livers, again glazed and grilled, are soft and sweeter, a good combination with a cold beer on a hot summer night.
It’s not just the food itself that I love. My most regular yakitori restaurant, called Kinhatsuan, in downtown Hirakata, was just a great, friendly place to hang out. With no seats, and serving only chicken, beer and whiskey, I loved my evenings in there just hanging out, listening to the constantly playing James Brown, and watching the people and cars walk past the open fronted restaurant. I’d happily spend evenings there with friends and family, sinking cold Suntory beers and sharing plate after plate of delicious yakitori.
Can you imagine a standing yakitori bar in central London, open late, a relaxed place to eat at the beginning or end of the night? I can. Is it something I might be thinking of the for the future? It might be…