This is the twenty-ninth post in the Around the World Birthday Extravaganza Series. Please scroll to the bottom to see all the other posts in this series.
Locals tell me that a real, authentic yakitori experience involves a dark, smoky, and crowded space, loud chatter, and lots of drinking. Of course, the chicken is the star, and the restaurant will serve every part of the chicken, down to all the good offaly bits.
I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have never been immersed in that authentic yakitori experience. In fact, the one time I tried to go to yakitori (in Boston, when Yakitori Zai was still open), we were unable to find parking and never made it into the restaurant. Sadly, the highly-rated restaurant soon closed and we never got to go. In Tokyo, we've focused on sushi more (it's Bryan's favorite Japanese food), and thus haven't made it to a yakitori yet.
Until this trip.
Our last night in Tokyo, we asked the concierge for a restaurant recommendation and she suggested Nakameguro Iguchi. Yes, it's a yakitori, but it's not your typical yakitori. The food is still excellent, but the environment is more modern, zen-like, and not at all loud.
We met a Japanese food T.V. celebrity who was eating there. She expressed surprise that we (foreigners) knew about this restaurant. She told us that we should be pleased with our concierge, who did an excellent job recommending this place.
The restaurant space is very, very dark and zen-like. Black walls, smooth surfaces, and a bonsai tree define the space. It is nothing like the loud, boisterous, smoky environment of a traditional yakitori. Our chef was a young Japanese man who was very focused, meticulous, and precise in every action he took.
We ordered the tasting menu, which was￥4,800 per person.
We began with a deep fried croquette of foie gras served with a seasoned dipping salt on the side. It was lovely - super rich, crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
Our next course was mushroom chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), which had a very strong ginger flavor from the raw slices of ginger on top.
We enjoyed a small cup of their 8-hr chicken stock. It was simply amazing. Phenomenally rich and flavorful, it was thick with collagen and definitely one of the best chicken stocks we'd ever had.
Next came a simple wooden spoon filled with a slightly sweet liver pate and a side of homemade toast.
Then came a salad of lettuce, red bell peppers, preserved seaweed (which reminded me of Chinese preserved prunes), and kaki (persimmon). It was refreshing and light.
Then came a grilled aged Caciocavallo cheese from Hokkaido. It reminded me a bit of mozzarella.
Tiny tiny fish!
Then the skewers started coming. The first was chicken tail meat with scallions. The grilled scallions helped balance out the tail meat, which was quite oily and rich. It was a nice pairing.
The next skewer was barely seared (basically, like sashimi) chicken breast with wasabi. It was surprisingly really good, this being only the second time I've ever had chicken sashimi (here is the first time).
We learned that chicken must be freshly slaughtered to be eaten raw. 🙁
Next came the boneless chicken wing. It was lovely, with a perfect, crispy skin on top.
Minced chicken meat was equally delicious.
Skin of intestines was rich and flavorful.
We each had a chicken heart and a gizzard served with shaved pickled ginger, minced onions, and a variety of dipping salts.
Beef intestines came as a pair, one with pure salt, the other with a sweet brown sauce. I liked both, but enjoyed sweet brown sauce a bit more.
And then onto a few vegetables near the end of the meal: a grilled cherry tomato, mushroom, asparagus, and radish. All were very good.
Finally, we got to revisit that amazing chicken broth we had at the beginning of the meal. Now, it was served with ramen noodles, a sheet of seaweed, and some scallions on top. It was phenomenal. I haven't had much chicken ramen, but this was definitely one of the best I've ever had, largely because of the incredible broth.
It was a fun meal. It was a gentle way to be introduce to the world of yakitori - call it the gourmet, upscale version. All of the food was executed really well. I enjoyed the flavors of everything. My favorite was the incredible chicken broth and the ramen made with the broth.
The environment is very dark, which may not suit some people. I typically tend to like having more light, although in this case I did not mind because we could easily see what the chef was doing.
I'd definitely consider coming back, though perhaps I should experience a traditional yakitori first. 😉
All Posts In This Series
Around the World Birthday Extravaganza
Alba White Truffle Fair
Osteria Dei Sognatori - A Traditional Piedmontese Dinner
Italy Wine Tour - Barbaresco
Lunch at Donna Selvatica in Neive, Italy
Dinner at a Truffle Hunter's Inn - Tra Art e Querce
Trattoria Della Posta in Montfort D'Alba
Nighttime Truffle Hunting with a Dog in Alba
Osteria della Arco - last dinner in Alba
Stunning Images of La Morra and Barolo, Italy
First Day In Bordeaux, France - Une Cuisine en Ville
Chateau Haut-Brion Tour in Bordeaux France
Restaurant Le St. James
Touring Bordeaux Wineries - Day 1 - Left Bank
La Tupina, Bordeaux (traditional French dinner)
Cos d'Estournel Tour
Touring Bordeaux - Pauillac, Chateau Lynch-Bages
A Different Paris
Le Relais de l'Entrecote
Hiking at Mount Takao in Japan