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Oct 15, 2006 02:44 AM

Confused about Japanese grilling places... not Benihana

I'm a fan of sushi, but really love the Japanese eateries that offer little grilled skewered items. Things like:

- chicken skin
- livers on a skewer
- mushrooms
- asparagus wrapped with bacon
- etc

These places first seem like sushi bars, but instead have the main chef tending to a long BBQ where he/she tends to the little sticks of fun.

I'm not sure what to call these places. Yakitori seems to mean "chicken." It's not teppanyaki. Two places I loved where eateries I was taken to so I don't know the adress. One was on Santa Monica near Bundy. The other was in the 3-story little plaza building next to little Tokyo. I'll work on the names, but in the meantime can you tell me the style?


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  1. Shinsengumi in Gardena has all these items...

    1. Yakitori, it refers to both the chicken and grilling various meats and vegetables on skewers.

      1. Here's the etymology, perhaps you can figure it out:
        yaki - grilled
        teppan - iron plate
        kushi - skewer
        niku - meat
        tori - bird

        so we have yakiniku, yakitori, teppanyaki...

        1 Reply
        1. Yakitori does mean chicken, but it's also the name for this kind of charcoal grilling using skewers (kushi) and even the restaurant in general. The generic name for the charcoal grill is hibachi - this has gotten confused in the US, as a chain of copycat teppanyaki (flat metal griddle) places (copying Rocky Aoki's invention of Benihana in NYC) called themselves Hibachi. Hibachi is traditionally the central coal/woodburning stove used mainly for heating the house - under the main table and chimney, and also used for cooking.

          Breaded and fried items on a skewer is called kushi-age (age means to fry).

          Japanese is full of a word being used for both something specific and more general - you have to figure it out by context. E.g., sake means the brewed rice drink, but it also means all alcoholic drinks. References to drinking sake could mean a shot of whiskey as well as the rice brew.