I interpret the word yakitori as ‘yucky tori’, ie. the yucky parts of a chicken – tail (aka bum), heart, skin – skewered and grilled over red-hot chunks of burning charcoal. But for the less conservative and more adventurous eater, these little bits of body can be quite delicious – not ‘yucky’ at all. I have to admit, after a cautious nibble at some heart and tail, it sounds a lot scarier than it tastes. The term yakitori refers to the grilled chicken, in all its parts. You get hatsu (heart), torikawa (skin), sunagimo (gizzard) and so on.
Colombo’s fine dining Japanese restaurant Nihonbashi has recently turned their outdoor section into a ‘Yakitori Garden’ – a small, bamboo-framed nook serving skewered, charcoal-grilled entrails out in the open and straight off the coals. You get your choice of innard (or a simple leg meat/mince for the less brave) and then choose between a simple shio (salt) or tare (a sweetish, treacly teriyaki seasoning) to flavour your meat – apparently the tare complements the leg meat and mince while the salt is better for gently highlighting the meaty flavours of the heart, liver and tail.
It’s quite delicious. The hatsu is small and dark – like little rubbery pellets – quite rich and chewey in texture; the tail, plump and fatty, crackling slightly on the burnt edges. The mince is also good – soft, round balls of chickens erved with the raw yolk of an egg for dipping. If you visit that garden between 6 and 8 PM, it’s happy hour – there’s 50% of on all yakitori and Carlsberg. This is excellent value for money from the otherwise expensive Nihonbashi. Our bill for two people: six skewers and two large bottles of beer, Rs. 1400.
The space is beautiful, and the staff, as usual, are excellent. This is a great option for inexpensive evening beers and bites in a really, really nice location with top quality food. Great value.