I'd gotten so many requests for a Yakyudori Yakitori post, but through pure laziness, I just kept collecting photos. Finally, I thought I'd better just go ahead and get it done. As a bonus, I was able to join my good FOY (Friend of Yoso) Candice for a meal at Yokohama Yakitori Koubou..... after all, I'd been keeping track of the progress of the restaurant while it was being built. I had so many photos, that I first decided to keep it to about 40, but then, it just seemed so much, that I decided to make this into a two part post....so my apologies ahead of time, I'll try to keep the verbiage to a minimum.
Part 1 Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori:
Yakyudori has really become quite popular, and with good reason, as many of the items are quite good. I've made it a habit of visiting on Sunday or Monday evenings..... recently they've starting serving Yakitori at 530, so finding the place this empty is quite a rarity.
I like the menu at Yakyudori, it has some variance from ramen, which I've covered before to Chazuke as a way of finishing your meal and filling up. The prices for Yakitori may seem high, but that's because everything is priced at a "two skewer" level. And even though it clearly states that there is a two skewer item minimum for each item ordered, it was made clear early on in my visits that you can order just a single skewer of any item.
A must try item whenever I see it on the menu is Kawa Ponzu. Sliced chicken skin topped with sliced green onions and ponzu sauce.
One item I'm not a big fan of at Yakyudori is one of my favorite dishes; Chicken Karaage.
While I enjoy the mayo-shoyu provided; the two times I've tried the Chicken Karaage the flavor seemed too ginger heavy for my tastes. I also prefer the Karaage I eat in restaurants to be lighter and more crisp than the version here.
I know you're asking....well what about stuff from the Yakitori menu? First off, I appreciate the use of Binchotan, the fragrant, hot burning charcoal. So let's go down the list, beginning with Gyu-tan, beef tongue:
I prefer my beef tongue sliced a bit thinner, and charred around the edges. The first piece on the skewer was perfect, a crisp perimeter, chewy near the center, full of smokey bicho flavor. The other pieces were decent, but not as good as that first slice.
It seems that the latest "hot item" in produce this year is Shishito, something we've been eating as long as I can remember. Though my favorite way of eating Shishito is as tempura, with perhaps some matcha shio, I also enjoy it grilled.
I think these could have been grilled a bit longer. I do enjoy Yakyudori's "Tare", the shoyu-mirin based basting sauce used for Yakitori/Robatayaki. The version here is less sweet than many others I've had, but has some complexity.
One of my favorite items here is the Buta-Shiso:
Basically pork rolled around shiso. The times I've had this, I really enjoyed it. I could make out the mint-anise hints of the shiso, a problem with versions of this I've had elsewhere. The pork itself, betrayed its' "other white meat" heritage, and was fairly moist, and the smokey flavors of binchotan really does well with pork.
The Tsukune at Yakyudori is also excellent, if a bit on the rich side.
Instead of the usual course ground chicken meatball...... in this case the chicken has been worked into almost a mousse. The exterior, touched by the charcoal adds a crisp counter-point. Here you can really make out Yakyudori's Tare. At times, it does seem a bit too rich and filling for me, but is hard to resist.
Where Sasami (chicken breast) can be a downfall for many Yakitori shops, here it is moist and with a line of ume based sauce very light and tasty.
I love the combination of flavors presetned in the Gyu-Oroshi.
While it could be argued that the beef is lost under all of these flavors, I appreci ate the combination of textures.I also enjoy that the daikon is almost finely julienned rather than grated into pulp, this reduces the amount of astringency, while still adding a wonderful crunch. Ponzu, green onion, and daikon is a wonderful combination of flavors. And I believe that the beef toothsome yet not tough has had tare applied ot it, since I catch a bit of sweetness as well.
Of course, if you know me, chicken wings are a must.
And while there's a lot to appreciate about these simply seasoned and grilled wings....... they are stretched and splayed on the skewer maximizing surface area, thus ensuring a good amount of skin exposed to the charcoal. I enjoy the Tebashio at Izakaya Sakura, and think the Tebasaki at Raku more. The two times I've had these, the crispness of the skin left something to be desired, and there just wasn't enough salt for my tastes. Adding on salt after the grilling is done just won't do it for me either. For now, I'll just stick to making it at home on my own Hida Konro.
The simple Momo (Chicken Thigh) was fine.
The Asparagus Bacon......
Was nice, though I think the bacon could have been grilled a bit longer.
On every visit, I will usually get the Ninniku.
Or the entire head of roasted garlic...... This is roasted garlic, sweet, with a hint of bitterness because of the roasting style. I love this with a touch of salt. When I was a child, my mother used to pan fry cloves of garlic after doing a saute or pan frying meat. Though that garlic was much more bitter and hard; this brought back nice memories.
The Negima (Chicken thigh with green onion) wasn't bad.
But I thought it could have used a bit more time on the grill.
The Eringei (King Oyster Mushroom) was grilled well.
Coated with just a touch of the tare; I didn't think this was anything special either since I often grill King Oyster Mushrooms at home.
Whew, that's a bunch, huh? Actually it's just a part of all the photos I have from Yakyudori. Due to the length of the post, I'm going to stop after one last item. There is one thing I must have to finish up my Yakitori visits to Yakyudori; it the Natto Gohan - Natto Rice:
For some reason, the way Yakyudori prepares the natto, the combination of flavors used strikes a real note with me..... it brings me back "home".
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori
4898 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111