One of the more popular foods in Japan, yakitori is skewered chicken grilled over a charcoal fire. You’ve probably eaten them before, but how much do you know about these tasty morsels? It’s time to brush up your yakitori know-how!
What is Yakitori?
There are many different types of yakitori, made using various parts of the chicken from the thigh to the skin. After grilling over the open fire, they are usually seasoned with two kinds of seasonings: tare sauce and salt. Tare sauce, a thickened and sweetened soy sauce with a stronger flavour profile, is heavier on the palate. Shio (salt) seasoning, on the other hand, allows the taste of the meat to shine through.
To flavour your yakitori, you can choose from a range of unique Japanese condiments which can be usually found on the tables of yakitori restaurants. For some heat, go for the Shichimi Togarashi, which is a powdered mix of seven different spices such as chilli, mustard, and sansho pepper, made from ground sansho peppercorns. To add some tang, try the umeboshi, a very sour paste made from salt-pickled Japanese plums.
How Should I Eat Yakitori?
To fully savour the flavours of yakitori, start eating meats which are more lightly seasoned before working your way up to those which are heavier tasting. To get an authentic Japanese experience, grab a handful of those skewers before chomping the meat straight off the stick. Messy but oh-so-good. And, when you’re finished eating, place your skewers into the cup/container provided. You will find them on every table!
Now that you’re armed with some knowledge, it’s time to apply it! We’ve curated a list of yakitori places in Singapore so grab a meat-loving friend and check out these places!
An established Yakitori restaurant in Tokyo, Sumire offers diners sizzling barbecued meat skewers along with beer and sake. For dinner, their standard Sumire Course Menu (S$30++ per pax without drinks, S$58++ per pax with all-you-can-drink) offers 12 courses comprising a variety of yakitori sticks. Chow down on treats like Chicken Shoulder and Chicken Breast, while enjoying some refreshing drinks.
People looking for a unique dining experience should head to Bincho, which combines the contemporary and the traditional. Inspired by the yakitori-ya in Osaka, this hip bistro operates in an old-school kopitiam. In the day, you’ll find them hawking unassuming local favourites, such as mee pok and kopi roti. Come nightfall, the space transforms into a modern open-concept yakitori bar headed by Chef Asai Masashi, with the bar featuring progressive and playful Japanese-inspired cocktails, hard liquor, sake, and more. If your date’s a sucker for Japanese food, bring him/her here to indulge in some skewer-less meats that are full of smoky, meaty goodness!
Featuring succulent meat skewers, seafood, and vegetables fresh off the grill, Nanbantei offers a wide selection of yakitori and bento sets. The meat here is lightly seasoned with sea salt to allow the flavours of the meat to shine through. They are then grilled over a special charcoal that’s been imported from Japan, giving the meats a distinctive smokiness. Pick from options such as the asparagus maki (asparagus wrapped with pork), tebasaki (chicken wings), tsukune (chicken meatballs), and shiso maki (pork with shiso leaf).
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Chug down mugs of beer while you indulge in stick after stick of charcoal-grilled goodness at Hibiki. This nondescript yakitori joint is popular amongst Japanese executives looking to get a taste of their home country. Bite on succulently grilled meat skewers such as Negima (chicken thigh and charred leeks) and Jikase Tsukune (chicken meatballs with a mild and spicy seasoning), the restaurant’s top picks. If you’re an adventurous eater, go for their Kurobuta Yakiton, which are chewy skewers of black pig organs.