Yakitori (grilled chicken skewer) is a beloved izakaya (Japanese-style tavern) dish in Japan. In Kyoto there are many restaurants, old and new, some of which are izakaya with tasty yakitori. Below are five izakaya in Kyoto that serve this delicious dish.
1. Torisei Honten
Torisei is a shop that is housed in a refurbished sake brewery of Yamamoto Honke, which manufactures and sells Japanese sake. Here, you will be able to enjoy freshly made raw sake that you can only find in a shop that is directly operated by a brewery, while seated inside a traditional building that was built from the Taisho era (1912 -1926) to early Showa era (1926 – 1989) periods. The dish that has become the pride of this izakaya is the Tebakara (520 JPY (incl. tax)) which is made by marinating chicken wings in an original homemade sauce. Their selection of yakitori uses fresh chicken from domestic brands, and you can have it in “shioyaki” (salted and grilled) or “tareyaki” (grilled with sauce) style for 140 JPY and up (incl. tax) per stick.
This izakaya is just a 7-minute walk from Kokura Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. One of its appeals is that it can be used for any occasion, as it has a variety of seating options such as counter seats and horigotatsu (sunken kotatsu table). The yakitori that is served here is extremely fresh as it uses chicken that is slaughtered in the morning of the day. The chicken is so fresh that it can be served in sashimi style, like the Sasami-tsukuri (500 JPY (excl. tax)) and the Jidori Yukke (780 JPY (excl. tax)). The yakitori is priced from 140 JPY (excl. tax) per stick. Aside from yakitori, you can also enjoy the appeal of chicken, prepared in various other ways at this izakaya.
3. Tsujiya Gokomachi Shop
Tsujiya Gokomachi Shop is located just five minutes by foot from Kawaramachi Station, in a converted old Kyoto townhouse. It uses Kyoto’s Nanatani Jidori chicken that is completely bred in a free-range style, characterized by its firm meat and rich taste. The first thing you should do is to taste that local chicken in seared form so you can enjoy its delicious aroma. The Kushiyaki (grilled skewers) (230 JPY and up (excl. tax)) uses parts of chicken best suited to yakitori is grilled over high-quality Kishu Bincho charcoal, making it crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. You are sure to enjoy the yakitori at this izakaya, whether you have it with the homemade sauce, which has been continuously improved on for more than 35 years, or salt that goes perfectly well with chicken.
4. Kanazawa Rokkaku Shop
Kanazawa Rokkaku Shop is the third shop that Kanazawa, which has two other branches in Kyoto, opened at the Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station. There is counter seats and one table inside this izakaya, so it is quite cramped. Here, they use the Kyo-aka Jidori chicken that is slaughtered in the morning of the same day that it is cooked. This izakaya’s Yakitorikushi (200 JPY (incl. tax)) of low-calorie organic chicken that is carefully grilled over Kishu Bincho charcoal is an exquisite dish. Note, though, that this izakaya currently operates for dinner only.
The Rakuchin Muromachi Yokocho, established near Shijo Station in April 2017, has four restaurants, including French cuisine and robatayaki (ingredients grilled over open flame) restaurants. One of the shops at the Rakuchin Muromachi Yokocho is this yakitori restaurant that customers are raving about. They exclusively use young Tamba Ajiwai-dori, less than 50 days old, so the meat here is soft and rich in flavor. They also use Kyushu soy sauce, so the taste of the yakitori is slightly sweet. Aside from seated tables, they also have standing space. This izakaya is open from 4:00 pm, so it's a perfect location if you want a few drinks early in the evening.
There are many yakitori restaurants in Kyoto that are particular about the chicken that they use, so they also serve many other tasty dishes aside from yakitori. When you visit Kyoto, try the yakitori as well as some of the other dishes.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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