April 27, 2017

Japanese food: Yakitori (焼き鳥, やきとり, ヤキトリ)

yakitori-japan-foodThere are only two types of people in this world as far as I am concerned: people that eat to live and people that live to eat, I am the latter. I have always believed that REAL food is food that contains characteristics and traits from the former animal or produce. This idea of mine has been challenged and reaffirmed time and time again the more I travel and eat. Occasionally, I will encounter a food that I am not quite sure what part of the animal it is from or what vegetable it is. But, now after many a meal I can distinguish between heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, testicles, feet, ovaries and many other odd parts. The great pleasure of yakitori is that it is a constant gastronomical test every time I eat it. Yakitori is true food for true eaters. If you enjoy the nasty bits then you will most definitely enjoy yakitori.

yakitori-japanfoodYakitori is special. It is unique. It is a blessing in the most simple of forms. When you take several pieces of small nasty bits and shove a stick through them, only glory takes place. Yakitori is a simple process that involves grilling beef, pork, chicken and innards to crispy perfection. Yakitori also involves vegetables as well, but is predominately meat and poultry products. The range of the cuts of both meat and poultry are quite great. Japanese use the typical cuts of meat and poultry and they are tasty non the less but the real pleasure takes place a little deeper. The real pleasure comes from the nasty bits. My personal favorites are keel-bone, heart, intestines, and liver. The flavors are usually quite strong and have a very earthy taste about them. If you have never tasted the insides of an animal before just imagine beef, chicken or pork but with an iron tinge of flavor. Textures range greatly depending on the location of the meat product. For example, liver has a flavor of iron and a texture of compact sediment that tends to break apart into irony meat. Heart is quite chewy and tough because the heart is such a strong muscle. In many ways yakitori is adventure food that is accompanied with beer or sake. Typically, I only seem staunch salarymen after work chugging beer and scarfing down chicken insides. Eating this food seems to be a pissing contest between co-workers and bosses. I say piss away because its delicious.

japan-yakitoriYakitori is magic on a stick. This is evident to anyone who has ate this wonderful cuisine, even if you do not try the more exotic variants. The simplistic nature and rustic preparation methods for making this cuisine adds great charm and beauty. I think many people fail to realize the importance of hand-to-hand combat with your food when eating. Yeah, everyone realizes that taste, smell and aesthetics are important to a meal but few realize the importance of using your hands and connecting with your food. Yakitori, and many Japanese foods for that matter, require a more intimate relationship when eating it. The simple “stick it with your fork” method really disconnects you with your meal. With yakitori, you are more involved with the eating and cooking process and that makes the meal just THAT much better. The true genius of this meal is when you ascend novelty and triumph in the clouds of yakibliss! Mangialo!






  1. Murray Lunn says:

    Those that spend time in Japan (or other areas that offer the food) will do a MAJOR disservice to themselves if they only stick to restaurants. Street food is where the heart and soul lies; in many ways they have to go above and beyond what’s offered in the restaurants because they can’t rely on a stable location, brand name, or full kitchen (which includes the equipment, cooks, and ingredients). Do yourself a favor, don’t fear the loom of contamination, and enjoy yourself some great street food. It’s worth it.

  2. I completely agree Murray. The amount of people that stick to run-of-the-mill restaurants are missing out on the most pleasurable of foods both flavor wise and culturally. In terms of food safety, I have got sick more often from brand name “restaurants” than small mom and pop shops, and I have had meals at some grimy, raw little shops. It is an illusion that bright lights and a fancy banner equals quality. True quality comes from a chef who loves what he/she is doing and serving his/her customers.

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