5 Recommended Yakitori Chains in Japan
In Japan, a popular standard izakaya dish is yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers. Yakitori are indispensable parts of izakaya menus, but there are various yakitori restaurants from well-established specialty shops run by yakitori experts to izakaya chains that focus mostly on yakitori. Here are a few yakitori chain restaurants where you can easily enjoy yakitori.
Torikizoku is a chain restaurant focused mostly in Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya. They have many branches so it's very easy to find around sightseeing areas. The best part about this restaurant is that everything, drinks and food alike, is 280 JPY (incl. tax), so the low prices means that it's very popular throughout the country. This is perfect for people who want to try yakitori for the first time but are wary of expensive restaurants. There are around 30 kinds of yakitori, and two of the most popular options are big 2 piece sets of Momo Torikiyaki Tare (grilled thigh meat with sauce) or Seseri (neck) with garlic. Both of them will help fill you up! They're also more delicious than you expect for this price! It's traditional to season it with soy sauce based sauces or salt, but they have other options such as spices, so please enjoy it to your taste.
Yakitori Daikichi is a yakitori chain that has many branches from Hokkaido to Okinawa. All of the restaurants are made so that the branch manager can see everything, and since the owner can add dishes of their own creation to the menu it shows that the chain supports their creativity. All of the owners must learn how to pour delicious beer at a beer factory as part of their training because this chain is very particular about the taste of their beer, so this is a restaurant recommended for people who want to enjoy delicious beer with their yakitori! They have about 20 varieties of yakitori including Hasami (chicken and leek) (120 JPY (excl. tax)), Kawa (skin) (120 JPY (excl. tax)), as well as unique versions like Chicken Basil (140 JPY (excl. tax)). Something especially recommended is their Tsukune (meatball) (140 JPY (excl. tax))made of chicken, tofu, ginger, onions, and more nicely grilled in a round shape. The outside is crispy and the inside is soft and you'll want to eat more and more. The Sanjo store in Kyoto is near major sightseeing areas and has an English menu so it's pretty convenient. Definitely stop by!
Toritetsu is a yakitori chain that has 70 branches from Tohoku to Kyushu. It has a modern, elegant atmosphere, so people who want to try dishes outside of yakitori should stop by. Their Fuwatoro Liver Skewer (180 JPY (excl. tax)) grilled perfectly to medium rare has no bad smell and it's so soft it seems like it'll melt! They have a large variety of yakitori, so first you could try the Kushiyaki Moriawase set that comes with 6 kinds (820 JPY (excl. tax)), and then order more of your favorites. Their homemade sauce uses soy sauce shipped directly from a renowned soy sauce company as well as specially blended salt to make their yakitori rank a cut above the rest! They also have salads using organic vegetables, dishes using Silkie chicken, soba, ramen, and other izakaya-style dishes to create a full menu. If you're in Tokyo, stop by the Akihabara Showadori branch so you can easily order off of their English, Chinese, and Korean menus!
Kushidori is a yakitori chain focused mostly in Sapporo but with branches in Sendai and Tokyo. They offer yakitori at around 130 JPY for one skewer, and it's a restaurant loved by tourists and locals alike. They have a wide variety of yakitori, as well as pork and beef skewers and a full side menu. Their Tori Seiniku (130 JPY) and Tebasaki (wings) (130 JPY) are popular because of how deliciously the aroma of the chicken diffuses in your mouth. For people who don't like oily foods, try the Sasami (chicken tender) (130 JPY) or the Nankotsu Tsukune (cartilage meatball) (140 JPY) for a lighter meal. For those of you who like beer, you should definitely try the Aburi Caciocavallo (200 JPY) with toasted cheese. This restaurant is often crowded, so it would be good to make reservations or to go early in the day.
Yakitori no Meimon Akiyoshi, a famous yakitori chain in Fukui, is a chain gathering devoted fans every day thanks to its reasonable prices and deliciousness as it spreads throughout Tokyo and the Kansai area. This restaurant's unique characteristic is that you order yakitori in sets of 5. They're made in sizes that's easy to eat, so you'll end up eating them all even if you're alone. On top of the table is a hot plate so your yakitori won't get cold. One of the recommendations is the charcoal-grilled yakitori Junkei (385 JPY for 5) that uses only specially chosen hen meat. It has the perfect texture, and the juiciness will fill your mouth! One delicious way to enjoy it is by adding spicy Japanese mustard. They have a full menu outside of yakitori, so it's worth visiting just to try the famous Osaka kushikatsu (fried skewers).
*The menu and price changes depending on area and branch.
There are many restaurants where you can eat delicious yakitori, and they're all varied, from low-priced chains to chains featuring creative cuisine. If you find a branch while you're sightseeing, you should definitely stop by!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.