Top 10 chickens
Hidden in the basement of Ginza's Matsuya, this high-end, meat-focused deli serves up what is potentially the classiest rotisserie chicken (¥2,970) in Tokyo. Subtly seasoned with a combo of rosemary, basil and other herbs, the meat is very tender and juicy, and is also low on fat. You'll also find Kodama at Shinjuku's Takashimaya and Hikarie in Shibuya.
Stare at the golden brown chickens being roasted on the rotisserie machine while sipping your drink at this casual Shinbashi diner, run by a friendly Frenchman. Marinated in 14 spices and herbs for an addictive, fiery kick, the signature dish (¥2,050) tastes best after being drizzled with the meat juice found at the bottom of the takeaway container. Queen of Chickens also operates branches in Ebisu and Akihabara.
Michelin-class chicken? This comfy Ikebukuro bistro is manned by a chef who trained for five years under Michelin-starred chefs in France, and specialises in Tsukubadori brand chicken marinated in a herb cocktail. Cooked slowly over low heat, these birds are low on fat but still tender and juicy. The ¥3,000 price tag may turn away some punters, though.
Always on the move, Bon Apetit operates out of a truck equipped with a full-on rotisserie. Attracting queues wherever it may be parked, the truck emanates a heavenly aroma that's a combo of rosemary, oregano, thyme and garlic. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, this one always has foodies coming back for more. Parked in front of the Sankei Building in Otemachi on Tuesdays and at the International Forum's Neo Stall Village on Wednesdays – check out their Twitter timeline for the full schedule. ¥2,300 for a whole chicken.
Located on the fifth floor of the Gems restaurant building, right by Shibuya Station’s east exit, La Cocorico is immediately recognisable: you won't be able to miss the rotating chicken in the rotisserie machine. Modestly seasoned, this is one well-balanced dish – make sure to place an order in advance, as the roasting process takes quite some time. Other branches include Ueno, Ginza and Yokohama. ¥3,132 for a whole chicken.
A tiny shop right by Yoga Station, Rotie's opened in 2010 and quickly became the neighbourhood's go-to spot for rotisserie chicken. One or two small tables are set up for those eating in, but practically all regular patrons get their flavourful bird to go. If a whole chicken (¥2,592) feels like overkill, try the quarter size with roast potatoes instead.
Hiroo's bastion of imported groceries now stocks rotisserie chicken every single day – thanks to the in-house oven installed after the supermarket's 2012 renovation. The NZ-bred chicken is marinated in the shop's original herb-and-lemon mix, making for a light but addictive flavour. Find whole, half and quarter sizes in the deli section. ¥2,980 per kg.
Finding perfectly crispy roast chicken in Tokyo can be a challenge, but Alze more than lives up to the name. Their Iwate-bred brand bird (¥2,484) is cooked to perfection with herbs, spices and salt. The crispy outer layer is also worth a mention, as are the broth-soaked potatoes served underneath.
You'll always find local office workers queueing up for takeaway lunch at Mita's Farmer's Chicken. Their tasty fowl is seasoned with a ten-herb mix heavy on rosemary, resulting in a burst of flavour every time you bite into the juicy bird. A whole chicken with potatoes will set you back ¥2,200 – call beforehand to avoid the trouble of waiting in line.
Attention cheapskates – Costco's rotisserie chicken costs a mere ¥799. That doesn't mean quality is compromised, though: the Brazil-bred bird is seasoned with pepper and nutmeg, making for a nice change from the standard rosemary, and maintains its juiciness all the way through.