Savor Yakitori in Japanese Style – A Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to savoring authentic yakitori in Japanese style. If you’re a fan of grilled chicken skewers, you’re in for a treat! Yakitori is a beloved Japanese dish that showcases the artistry of combining tender chicken cuts with flavorful seasonings and grilling them to perfection. Whether you’re a seasoned yakitori enthusiast or new to this traditional cuisine, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about yakitori in Japan.

Yakitori is more than just a meal – it’s an experience deeply rooted in Japanese culture. In this guide, we will explore the origins and varieties of yakitori, the proper way to order and eat this delectable dish, and we’ll even share a list of the best yakitori restaurants in Japan. So, get ready to embark on a culinary journey and discover why yakitori is a must-try dish for any food lover.

The Origins and Varieties of Yakitori

Yakitori is a traditional Japanese dish that originated as a street food during the Meiji Era in Japan. Today, it can be commonly found at festivals and enjoyed on the streets or in specialty establishments such as yakitori bars and restaurants.

When it comes to yakitori, there are various cuts of chicken that are used, including thigh, breast, wing, cartilage, and even oviduct and immature egg yolk. This variety in cuts allows for different textures and flavors in each skewer, giving yakitori its unique appeal. In addition to chicken, vegetarian options such as asparagus, tofu, and mushroom are also available to cater to different dietary preferences.

The flavorings for yakitori typically include salt and tare, a sweetened soy sauce with a strong umami flavor. This combination of flavors adds depth and richness to the grilled chicken skewers. Some cuts of yakitori even come with their own traditional flavorings, such as sasami with wasabi, offering a delightful twist to the classic dish.

When it comes to cooking yakitori, there are different methods used. While electric grills can be used for convenience, traditional yakitori is often prepared using charcoal made from oak called “binchotan.” This type of charcoal is favored for its ability to produce smoke and impart a distinct smoky flavor to the grilled skewers.

To truly appreciate the origins and varieties of yakitori, it’s important to experience it firsthand. From the bustling streets of Japan to the cozy ambience of yakitori bars, each bite of these grilled chicken skewers offers a taste of tradition and culinary excellence.

How to Order and Eat Yakitori

Ordering yakitori is a simple process that allows you to savor the delicious flavors of grilled chicken skewers. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to order and enjoy yakitori:

  1. Choose from a variety of yakitori skewers on the menu or simply point to indicate the quantity you desire. The menu will typically offer a selection of different cuts of chicken and vegetarian options like grilled vegetables wrapped in bacon.
  2. Select your preferred seasoning for the skewers. You can choose between tare, a soy sauce-based glaze, or salt seasoning. Both options enhance the taste of the tender chicken and vegetables.
  3. Yakitori is traditionally eaten with your hands, so feel free to pick up the skewer and enjoy the juicy goodness directly. Alternatively, you can use chopsticks to remove the meat and vegetables from the skewer if you prefer.
  4. After enjoying each skewer, be sure not to leave the empty skewers on the serving dish. Most yakitori restaurants provide a dedicated cup on the table where you can discard the used skewers.
  5. For the best overall experience, it is recommended to sit at the counter seats in yakitori restaurants. This allows you to engage with the skilled chefs, ask for their recommendations, and witness the artistry of yakitori preparation firsthand.

Enjoying yakitori is not only about the delicious flavors but also the unique dining experience. By following these steps, you can make the most out of your yakitori feast and indulge in the authentic taste of Japan.

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The Best Yakitori Restaurants in Japan

When it comes to experiencing the best yakitori in Japan, there are several exceptional restaurants that stand out from the rest. These establishments are known for their commitment to using high-quality ingredients, skilled chefs, and providing a diverse range of flavors and textures in their yakitori dishes.

One such restaurant is Tsukiya in Tokyo. This renowned establishment not only offers a focus on traditional Japanese cuisine but also prides itself on using only the finest ingredients. At Tsukiya, you can expect to indulge in mouthwatering yakitori that is expertly grilled to perfection.

If you’re in the Naka-Meguro area, Toriyoshi is a must-visit. This yakitori restaurant specializes in Date chicken sourced from Fukushima Prefecture. The meat is incredibly tender and bursting with addictive umami flavors.

In the heart of Akasaka Intercity AIR, you’ll find Tori-no-Miyagawa which serves up a delectable array of chicken dishes. Their popular dish of five assorted yakitori grilled over specialty binchotan charcoal is a standout choice.

For a more sophisticated dining experience, Yakitori Abe is the place to be. Known for its stylish interior design and impressive wine list, this restaurant offers a refined atmosphere in which to savor their delectable yakitori creations.

These best yakitori restaurants in Japan exemplify the essence of this traditional dish and provide an unforgettable dining experience for those seeking the finest flavors of grilled chicken skewers. So, indulge your taste buds and immerse yourself in the rich culinary heritage of Japan.

best yakitori restaurant

Yakitori Tips and Etiquette

When it comes to enjoying yakitori skewers, there are a few tips and etiquettes to keep in mind to fully appreciate this traditional Japanese dish. Follow these guidelines to enhance your dining experience:

Eating Directly from the Skewer: It is customary to eat yakitori directly from the skewer or remove the meat using chopsticks. This method allows you to savor the flavors and enjoy the tender texture of the grilled chicken.

Hot Off the Grill: Yakitori is best enjoyed when it is served hot off the grill. The succulent flavors and juiciness are maximized when the skewers are still fresh and hot. Be sure to indulge in each skewer as soon as it arrives at your table.

Ordering in Small Batches: To ensure the utmost freshness, it is recommended to order yakitori skewers in small batches. This way, you can savor each skewer at its peak, maintaining the quality and taste throughout your meal.

Skewer Disposal: After enjoying a skewer, dispose of it in the designated cup provided at the table. This helps keep your dining area clean and organized for the next round of delicious yakitori.

Flavor Enhancements: Condiments play a significant role in enhancing the flavors of yakitori skewers. Look out for condiment options such as shichimi togarashi, a blend of seven Japanese spices, or sansho pepper, which adds a unique, citrusy kick. These condiments can be sprinkled on your skewers to elevate the taste.

Interactive Dining Experience: For a truly immersive experience, consider sitting at the counter seats in yakitori restaurants. This allows you to interact with the skilled chefs, who can provide recommendations and insights into the art of yakitori grilling.

To get a visual feel for what yakitori skewers look like, take a look at the image below:

Tip Etiquette
Eating Directly from the Skewer Enjoy the flavors and textures
Hot Off the Grill Savor the succulent flavors
Ordering in Small Batches Maintain freshness and quality
Skewer Disposal Keep your dining area clean
Flavor Enhancements Enhance the taste with condiments
Interactive Dining Experience Engage with skilled chefs at the counter seats

Yakitori Varieties and Accompaniments

Yakitori offers a diverse range of options when it comes to the choice of ingredients. While it traditionally features various cuts of chicken such as thigh, breast, wing, cartilage, and liver, there are also non-chicken options available for those seeking something different. Skewered vegetables like shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms wrapped in bacon are popular choices that add a flavorful twist to the traditional yakitori experience.

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When enjoying yakitori, it is common to pair it with a variety of accompaniments that complement the flavors of the skewers. Sides like salads and pickled vegetables enhance the overall meal, providing a refreshing and tangy contrast to the savory yakitori. Additionally, rice dishes like ochazuke, which is a combination of rice and tea-based soup, can be served alongside the yakitori to create a satisfying and well-rounded meal.

The versatility of yakitori allows for endless combinations and flavors, catering to different preferences and dietary needs. Whether you prefer the traditional chicken skewers or want to explore vegetarian options, yakitori offers a delightful culinary experience that is sure to please.

Conclusion

Yakitori, the popular Japanese dish of grilled chicken skewers, offers a delectable and fulfilling dining experience. Whether enjoyed at street stalls, during festivals, or at specialized yakitori restaurants, this traditional Japanese delicacy tantalizes taste buds with its diverse cuts of chicken and appeals to both meat lovers and vegetarians. By observing proper etiquette, such as eating directly from the skewer or using chopsticks, and exploring the various types of yakitori available, you can fully immerse yourself in the rich culinary tradition of Japanese yakitori. Don’t miss the chance to savor yakitori in true Japanese style and embark on an authentic culinary adventure.

FAQ

What is yakitori?

Yakitori is a popular Japanese dish consisting of grilled chicken skewers made from various parts of the chicken. It is commonly enjoyed with a glass of beer and is a staple at specialty restaurants known as yakitori-ya.

How is yakitori traditionally prepared?

Yakitori is traditionally prepared by grilling the chicken skewers over charcoal. The chicken cuts used for yakitori include thigh, breast, wing, cartilage, gizzard, and even oviduct and immature egg yolk. Vegetarian options such as asparagus, tofu, and mushroom are also available. The skewers are flavored with salt or tare, a sweetened soy sauce with a strong umami flavor.

How do I order and eat yakitori?

Ordering yakitori is typically done by choosing from a variety of skewers on the menu or by pointing and indicating the quantity desired. It is common to order individual skewers or set courses that include a selection of different yakitori. Yakitori is meant to be eaten with the hands and can be enjoyed directly from the skewer or removed using chopsticks.

Where can I find the best yakitori restaurants in Japan?

Some notable yakitori restaurants in Japan include Tsukiya in Tokyo, Toriyoshi Naka-Meguro specializing in Date chicken from Fukushima Prefecture, Tori-no-Miyagawa in Akasaka Intercity AIR, and Yakitori Abe known for its stylish interior design and impressive wine list. These restaurants prioritize the quality of their ingredients, skilled chefs, and provide a range of flavors and textures in their yakitori dishes.

What are some tips and etiquette to follow when eating yakitori?

It is customary to eat yakitori directly from the skewer or remove the meat using chopsticks. Yakitori should be eaten while hot off the grill for the best flavor. Skewers can be discarded in a designated cup provided at the table. Sitting at the counter seats in yakitori restaurants allows for an immersive dining experience and interaction with the chef.

What are the different varieties and accompaniments of yakitori?

Yakitori comes in various cuts of chicken, including thigh, breast, wing, cartilage, and liver. There are also non-chicken options such as skewered vegetables like shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms wrapped in bacon. Accompaniments for yakitori can include sides like salads, pickled vegetables, or rice dishes such as ochazuke.

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