Yakitori grilled chicken skewers are a cheap and tasty gourmet food that is enjoyed around the country in Japan. This time, we introduce five izakaya restaurants in the Tohoku Region that are particular about their chicken, charcoal, and preparation methods and serve outstanding yakitori.
1. Abeya Akita Branch (Akita Prefecture)
This is an izakaya restaurant run by a producer of Hinai Jidori chicken that prides itself in serving yakitori (302 JPY (incl. tax) and up) made with Hinai Jidori that is fresh enough to eat raw, as well as local Akita cuisine. Hinai Jidori are free range chicken that are raised unfettered in an area full of nature. The meat is firm and the more you chew, the more umami (savory Japanese) flavors you will taste. It is famous around the country as one of Japan's three leading free range chicken brands. The restaurant procures whole Hinai Jidori and prepares just enough for the day on skewers and grills them on a charcoal grill. Rare and popular parts often sell out. The yakitori is served from 5:00 pm, so be sure to get there early.
2. MOGURA (Fukushima Prefecture)
This is a yakitori restaurant where you can enjoy yakitori made with rare Aizu Jidori chicken from Fukushima, together with local sake. The high quality chicken is raised for twice the length of time that most chickens are raised so that its muscles are well developed. The chicken is prepared onsite and grilled at high heat on Binchotan coal from Kochi. The yakitori prepared this way is juicy and has great texture. The yakitori are fantastic, as is the Tsukimi Tsukune (made with Aizu Jidori eggs) (300 JPY (excl. tax)) minced meat ball skewers that are carefully prepared each day and served with silky egg yolk. Enjoy it with the Iwaki Kotobuki sake from the owner's home region of Fukushima Hamadori.
3. Hokoruya (Aomori Prefecture)
This is a restaurant that serves regional cuisine made with ingredients from Aomori including Aomori Syamorock chicken. Aomori Syamorock, which is distinguished by rich flavors and fine-grained meat, is best enjoyed in the Tanno Kushi Course (3,240 JPY (incl. tax)). The course starts with a soup made with chicken bones, followed by kushiyaki skewers, salad, and Syamorock ramen and is a great way to fully enjoy the flavors of Aomori Syamorock. The restaurant is in a 100-year-old building, so be sure to note the exterior and interior that were modern at the time it was built.
4. Akariya Nakakecho Branch (Miyagi Prefecture)
This is a restaurant in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, where you can enjoy the Hinai Jidori from Akita introduced at the beginning. The yakitori (270 JPY (excl. tax) and up), grilled on the highest quality Binchotan coal and flavored with natural salt, is outstanding for the umami flavors of the meat, the texture and aroma. The menu features a range of variations on the chicken, including Zeppin! Kiritanpo-nabe (2,300 JPY (excl. tax)), a regional Akita hot pot dish with a rich, golden soup taken from the bones of Hinai Jidori, as well as Homemade Smoked Aged Thigh (1,280 JPY (excl. tax)) that is only available here.
5. Yoshifuru (Iwate Prefecture)
This is a yakitori specialty restaurant that serves yakitori made with Saisaidori chicken from Iwate. The yakitori are larger than at most yakitori restaurants so they are juicier and allow you to taste the umami flavors with no distracting flavors. The recommended dish is the restaurant's signature menu item, Yoshifuru Mori (680 JPY). It is a combination plate of wings, hasami (chicken and negi scallions), offal, and tsukune (meatball) and is a wonderful way to enjoy the different flavors and textures. The wings, in particular, are prepared using secret techniques to ensure tastiness and is grilled with two skewers. They are served without the skewers, so if you want them to be skewered, ask to be served with the skewers.
The photo is for illustrative purposes only
When you order yakitori, you may be asked whether you want it with salt or sauce. Salt is recommended if you want to savor the umami flavors of the chicken, but some parts go better with sauce. Be sure to ask for advice so you can get the best enjoyment out of the yakitori.
*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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