Dish Stories

Yakitori | 焼き鳥

Origin - Japan

#Streetfood #Savory #Tender

umami and sweet flavors of Yakitori
Yakitori sauce is the star of this dish which is the combination of umami and sweet flavors.

Yakitori are grilled chicken skewers made from bite-sized pieces of meat from all different parts of the chicken, such as liver, skin, breasts, thighs, gizzard, and heart. Usually made to order and cooked over charcoal, yakitori is a popular, inexpensive dish commonly enjoyed together with a cold glass of beer.

The best yakitori is served at specialty restaurants, known as yakitori-ya, but it can also be found at many other restaurants across Japan, such as an izakaya (Japanese pub), and a festival food booth.

[ Fun Facts ] The word “yaki” means to grill or cook and “tori” translates to a bird.

Different parts of the chicken is used for yakitori.

There are about 11 different kinds of yakitori using almost every part of the chicken’s innards and meat Yakitori restaurants in Japan use special breeds of chicken from a specific region that the chef has sought out for the flavor and the texture. Some restaurants have made it their specialty and earned a star in the prestigious Michelin Guide.

[ History ]

When Buddhism was introduced to Japan, eating meat, especially the meat of domestic animals such as cattle and pigs was unthinkable for they were important for farming. Eating meat gradually became more known to people as new customs from Europe were introduced to Japan as part of the Meiji Restoration.

Restaurants began serving chicken but only as an exclusive dish and was regarded as food for the rich. Leftovers and unused parts of chicken meat from those restaurants such as the bones, tendons, and innards were grilled on skewers and sold at street stalls. This gained popularity among the common people for its convenient serving and affordable price.

yakitori at Japanese festivals and night markets
Yakitori stands are a common sight in Japanese festivals and night markets.

Yakitori is commonly sold at areas with high foot traffic, such as shrines, bridges, and festivals. It has quickly become a gourmet snack for everyone in Japan, especially at pubs and restaurants where they can enjoy the yakitori with their favorite alcoholic beverage.

[ How to eat ]When ordering yakitori, you can usually choose to have your skewer seasoned with salt or brushed with a sweet and savory sauce. Yakitori is meant to be eaten with your hands, so be ready to get your hands dirty!


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