‘The chicken, the whole chicken, and nothing but the chicken,’ could be the motto for this Sangenjaya poultry palace. Chef Tokoshima serves 20 different items of grilled chicken, from the standard – breast, wings, thigh – to the startling. Anyone for ovaries? The simple seasoning – salt, black pepper and a splash of tare (sauce) – allows the natural flavours of the chicken to shine. It’s a beautiful, elegant restaurant, with dark wood panelling on the walls and the counter that surrounds Tokoshima’s kitchen, offering customers a close-up view of the master’s meticulous preparation of each and every kushi.
Yakitori is often seen as a cheap and cheerful meal. Selected chicken parts are skewered with kushi (a stick typically made from bamboo or sometimes steel), and then slowly grilled over charcoal fire while lathering it in tare, a sweet soy sauce and mirin mix. Its sweet, salty and smokey flavours make it the perfect bar snack – pairs well with ice cold beer and best enjoyed in an izakaya.
But in recent years, chefs are beginning to elevate the image and the appeal of this Japanese staple, by using brand chicken, premium and off cuts, and even pairing it with sake and wine. A yakitori meal has become a culinary exploration of the chicken in its totality, and different parts of the bird are seasoned differently, be it with freshly grated wasabi or just a pinch of sea salt. For a taste of some of the best grilled chicken on skewers in the city, head to these restaurants.
(Don't know how to order? Check our yakitori photo menu before you go.)