I would like to think I've had my fair share of very good yakitori.
Although I don't seek it out nearly as often as I seek out sushi when I'm in Japan, I've still dined at some pretty good places, such as 1-Michelin starred Bird Land (made even more famous because it's located next to Sukiyabashi Jiro) and another lovely slightly less-discovered place called Nakameguro Iguchi. Because of that, I think I have a pretty decent benchmark when it comes to yakitori.
We knew about the insane lines and never-ending popularity of Yardbird in Hong Kong. In general, Hong Kong diners have short attention spans and constantly seek out the newest, latest, hottest restaurant. It's hard to stay "hot", yet Yardbird has managed to stay in high demand for seven years, even after moving from Soho to a bigger location in Sheung Wan at the end of 2017.
People say they love that the restaurant is family-owned and not run by a huge restaurant group (which describes many of the non-Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong). They feel that the restaurant has heart and passion. Chef and co-owner Matt Abergel is from Calgary, Canada, and fell in love with yakitori during a trip to Japan when he was 17. He pursued that passion, moving first to Vancouver to work at a Japanese restaurant before spending time at Masa in New York, Zuma in London, and then Zuma in Hong Kong.
He opened Yardbird in 2011, and lines have been out the door ever since.
Mushroom salad (HKD135) shungiku, mizuna, and wasabi
Our strategy to avoid the lines: arrive right at 6PM opening time. In fact, we arrived about 10-15 minutes before opening and stood outside to wait. There were about 10-15 other guests who had the same strategy. There was no problem getting a seat.
When we arrived, the server asked us whether we wanted to sit in the front or the back. The front has high top tables, the bar, and standing tables (for bar patrons and people waiting for a table). The back is quieter and all the seats and table are normal height.
"Which one's more fun?" I asked.
Sweet Corn Tempura (HKD 110)
Although chicken is definitely the focus, there are other things on the menu such as salads, various types of vegetables, tartare, rice and noodles, and soup.
We were thrilled to learn that you can request half orders of the menu items. For example, the Sweet Corn Tempura (HKD 110) typically comes with four fritters, but we were able to get just a half order of two fritters, one for each of us.
Chicken skin HKD45
Of course, the chicken is the star here, and you have to order at least a few yakitori skewers. Yardbird uses really special local Hong Kong yellow chickens. These chickens, which come from the nearby Sheung Wan market, are slaughtered same day.
According to Chef Abergel, the yellow chickens in Hong Kong are better than any other chicken in the world. He says he has tasted chicken in Japan, Australia, and France, but "nothing comes close in flavour to the Hong Kong yellow chicken."
Come early, for certain choice parts get sold out quickly. This is what the board looked like around 7PM, not even an hour after opening. Sometimes it's surprising to see what's popular.
Chicken Neck with yuzu kosho and pepper was fantastic. [HKD45]
Chicken liver [HKD45]
One of my favorites: Chicken Meatball served with tare and an egg yolk (you're supposed to mix the tare with the egg yolk to form a dipping sauce). HKD48
Yum. So good!
Chicken gizzard came covered with crispy garlic. [HKD45]
Bryan loves Chicken hearts, and Yardbird's version, smothered in fresh spring onions and ginger, did not disappoint. [HKD45]
We ended the meal with a unusual Chicken and Egg Rice [HKD165]. The chicken fried rice with peas came topped with crispy chicken skin and an onsen egg. Of course we had to break the egg and mix everything up.
This was good too, and it was nice to have some rice to balance out the protein-heavy meal.
Yardbird Hong Kong
I am not at all surprised why this restaurant is so popular. The yakitori is excellent. I especially enjoyed the little creative touches that they put on the various pieces so that it's not just pure chicken chicken chicken. There's yuzu kosho with the neck, crispy garlic with the gizzard, and mounds of spring onions and ginger with the heart.
For even more variety, there are many, many great dishes to choose - everything from tartare, salad, and scotch eggs to fried rice, noodles, and soup. I can't wait to come back and try more things, especially some of those exotic ones that sold out so fast.
Update: Short Video below!
Yardbird Hong Kong
154-158 Wing Lok Street
Sheung Wan HONG KONG
This is the eighteenth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.