Bird Land is a one-Michelin starred yakitori (grilled chicken) place located in the basement of the Ginza subway station in Tokyo. It sits across the corridor from its more famous neighbor, Sukiyabashi Jiro.
Though located kiddie corner from each other, that is where the similarities end.
While dinner at Sukiyabashi Jiro is a serious affair where the diners quietly watch Jiro perfect his craft, dinner at Bird Land is loud, smoky, and crowded.
The yakitori concept revolves around the hot charcoal grills in the center. You can either order a la carte or try a tasting menu. They grill mostly vegetables and various chicken parts on skewers.
The Chef's Omakase (tasting menu) is reasonably priced and is an easy (brainless) way to try a variety of things if it’s your first time.There are two different choices for the Chef's Omakase: The smaller one costs 6300 JPY and includes an assortment of appetizers, chicken liver pate, eight types of yakitori, sanshoyaki (Japanese spiced teriyaki chicken), and oyako-don (chicken and egg on rice). The larger one costs 8400 JPY and additionally includes a char-grilled fillet, grilled cheese, and dessert.
Since we didn’t know what we wanted, we decided to go with the tasting menu. Bryan got the larger one, and I got the smaller one.
We started with an assortment of cold appetizers: chicken gizzard, chicken skin, Chinese watercress (or hollow heart vegetable), and a tiny onion.
Next was a chicken “filet” (breast meat) with sweet Japanese apricot sauce and shiso.
We each had a tiny block of chicken liver pate with shiso and a crostini.
Bryan’s longer tasting included chicken butt, which they described as the muscle near the tail.
My tasting had chicken gizzard instead.
Chicken thigh with lime.
Chicken breast with wasabi.
It was very tender, and the chicken was barely cooked inside (!).
The tofu came served with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. It was delicious, super soft, and creamy, sort of like a really fine ricotta or burrata cheese. Surprisingly, this turned out to be one of my favorite courses!
My favorite! Grilled gingko nuts!
Salad was a simple mix of wild greens. The larger tasting menu's salad include a quarter slice of a *super* sweet tomato.
Chicken meat ball (tsukune).
Crispy skin (kawa).
I loved the herbs in this next course, sansho yaki, which consisted of chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce, dusted with sansho powder (prickly ash, aka Sichuan peppercorns!), and garnished with kinome (leaves of the prickly ash).
Finally, we ended with a skewer of chicken leg with onion and green pepper.
Bryan's extended menu also included char-grilled cheese, a Cacciocavallo from Yoshida-bokujyo, Okayama.
Finally, we ended with an excellent oyako-don (chicken and egg over rice) which comes with broth and pickles
Bryan's extended tasting came with dessert, and he could choose between a Japanese custard pudding (pictured above) or Turkish rice pudding.
Bird Land Tokyo - General Comments
All in all, Bird Land is solid. The vivacious environment is fun and authentic. It’s cool to sit at the counter and watch the grill masters manage all the different pieces that they are cooking.
I still enjoyed the yakitori we had at Nakameguroiguchi more, at least in terms of absolute quality of the grilled meat.
This place, however, wins on the fun environment, and the food is still quite good. Plus as as bonus, you may get to see Jiro if you come at the right time (we did!).
Bird Land Tokyo
Nearest Station: Ginza
Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo,
Ginza, 4 Chome−2−15, 塚本素山ビル