Yakitori are very popular skewers in Japan and are very different from what we can find in our Japanese restaurants in France or USA. Presentation:
Yakitori, delicious Japanese skewers
Yakitori 焼き鳥 is composed of “yaki 焼き” which means grilled and “tori 鳥” which means bird. As the name suggests they are skewers of chicken pieces (and only chicken) cooked on a grill. In Japan, these skewers are presented on a wooden spike, and each piece can be eaten in one bite. Each skewer is made of a specific part of the chicken, it can be heart, skin, liver, chicken wings… Once grilled, it is seasoned simply with salt or with a thick sweet sauce made of japanese shoyu soy sauce, sugar and mirin sugar and sake. The latter is the most famous in France
In France, in Japanese restaurants, yakitori is poor in choice of meat pieces and often mixed with sushi which is not the case in Japan.
Yakitori in Japan
Yakitori are very popular snacks in Japan, they are eaten in specialized restaurants called yakitori-ya 焼き鳥屋, where the menu will be dedicated to these chicken skewers. They can also be enjoyed in izakaya 居酒屋, Japanese bars where salarymen meet after their working day.
These skewers are also very present during matsuri, festivals where there are mobile stands called yatai. You will see several of these stands offering yakitori but also okonomiyaki (Japanese thick pancakes), of yakisoba (fried noodles), or takoyaki (octopus balls)…
The different types of yakitori
As mentioned above, here are the most popular types of yakitori:
Theme food park Yakitori
In Japan, there are museums about food as we have seen for the ramen (noodle soup). There is one for yakitori which is located in Tokyo where you can taste the specialties of each region. This saves you from traveling to the four corners of the country!
For example, you will be surprised to see how different the skewers in Hiroshima will be from those in Fukuoka !
To get there: Zenyaren, 2nd basement of Tokyo Sankei Bldg, 1-7-2, Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. 7mn walk from the north exit of the Marunouchi side of “Tokyo” station on the JR line.
Variations of yakitori
In Japan but also in France you will find other skewers based on beef, mushrooms, pork… these skewers are called kushiyaki 串焼き Here are examples of kushiyaki: