Torikizoku - Japan's low cost Yakitori
When visiting Japan, Yakitori is a must if you are interested in sampling the local food! For those of you that don’t know, Yakitori is usually prepared by skewering 5 to 6 pieces of bite-sized chicken meat then grilling it directly over an open fire. There are varying parts of the chicken and styles to try, so it is well worth visiting one of the thousands of shops during your trip.
There are varying levels of Yakitori shops, from the expensive to the ultra-cheap, with the best (in my humble opinion) being Torikizoku. It is the perfect place for tourists on a budget and a chain that is found all over the country – according to the company’s website, there are a total of 458 across Japan to choose from!
Perhaps the best thing about Torikizoku is the price. Everything you find on the menu (which also comes in English) is ¥280! The range of food and drinks is impressive – of course the restaurant focuses on Yakitori, but there are many other dishes to choose from including salads, French fries, rice dishes, etc. You are spoilt for choice if being honest.
In terms of the yakitori, Torikizoku only uses domestic chicken which the company prides itself on, meaning that you know the food will be of the highest quality. Japanese health and safety regulations are some of the world’s toughest so you know it’ll be safe.
As explained earlier, there are many parts of the chicken to try from the standard cuts of mune (breast) and momo (thigh) to the more adventurous offerings of kawa (skin), nankotsu (chicken cartilage) and all kinds of innards such as heart and liver, etc.
Photo: Andy on Flickr
The drinks menu is also extensive and of course priced at ¥280. The shop has a range of drinks to order including beer, wine, western spirits and Japanese alcohol like sake, shouchuu and umeshu. The umeshu, which is made from Japanese plums is well worth trying if have a sweet tongue.
In terms of beer, you’ll be pleased to know they come in two sizes – Nama-chu for medium or Dai-jokki for a large. I recommend the medium as your beer will stay cool while enjoying the food – the big one, is actually, almost too big – it’ll certainly give your drinking arm a work-out!
The atmosphere is lively as it is enjoyed by both youngsters and businessmen alike, but be warned – the shop can get a little smoky as with most restaurants in Japan. Smoking is still allowed in most establishments in Japan, however, the restaurant does usually have non-smoking tables should you wish to separate yourselves.
Lastly, the service is excellent with each staff member being attentive and friendly. To get the attention of the staff, simply press the button on your table and one will be over in a matter of seconds ready to take your order or request for the bill.
Overall, Torikizoku is an excellent eating experience while visiting Japan and reasonably priced with it – just don’t eat too much!