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A Dream Realized - The Juicy, Smoky, Delectable Grilled Chicken Skewers of Yakitori Yakyudori (San Diego) [Review] w/ Pics!

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exilekiss Aug 4, 2009 02:43 PM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2009/08...

It's always inspiring to visit a restaurant that's the lifework of a chef/owner; to see and taste the result of their love of food and the pursuit of a life-long dream. I originally knew nothing about Yakitori Yakyudori, except that it was highly recommended by my friend ila as a great place to get Yakitori (Japanese-style Grilled Chicken Skewers), but after trying the very first skewer, I knew this restaurant was something very special; you could taste the excellence in grilling skills and the absolute devotion to the craft.

Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest is led by Chef Masashi Nabe (pronounced "Na-Beh"). One might think that a Yakitori Grill Master from Japan would target an area like the South Bay in Los Angeles (home of one of the larger Japanese communities in So Cal), but Nabe-san opened up his restaurant in San Diego because of a dream. He had visited San Diego when he was still a young student growing up in Japan, and it made such an impression on him that he vowed to one day earn enough money to move to San Diego and open up a restaurant. :) Nabe-san apprenticed under the Yakitori masters of Yakitori Yakyudori in Nagoya, Japan, and 4 years ago, his dream was realized when he was able to open up his own San Diego version of Yakitori Yakyudori, named in honor of the restaurant where he learned his craft in Nagoya. (It's also humorous to note that the Kanji for "Yakyudori" essentially means "Baseball Bird" - named so because the original chefs and staff are huge baseball fans (and play during their time off). Nabe-san shares the love of baseball as well, and happily keeps that aspect of the restaurant alive. :)

Located along a quiet stretch in Hillcrest, there's already a crowd of people waiting for tables when we arrive (on a weeknight no less). The inside is invitingly cozy and the ambiance already feels like a great neighborhood Yakitori restaurant in Japan: Groups of friends and families are laughing and eating and drinking away with vigor. :)

Looking along their main wall, Yakyudori prominently features the classic "Popular Ranking" lists seen at many Japanese eateries, letting customers know what the most popular dishes are. Here, though, the staff seems to have created 2 lists: "Popular Ranking for American" and "Popular Ranking for Japanese", and the differences between them are interesting.

In what has to be the best handmade sign I've seen in years, Yakyudori has a hilarious sign advertising their Kawasu (Boiled Chicken Skin dish): (^_^)

For this evening, I was fortunate enough to have one of my Yakitori Hounds joining me along with our other guests. Yakyudori's menu is impressive: Not only does it feature all the classic Yakitori items (Chicken Thigh, Chicken Breast, Wings, Heart, Cartilage, etc.), they also have quite a few specialty items not found in most Yakitori restaurants in So Cal (such as Akahimo (Chicken Vein), and Nagoya-fu Tebakara (Nagoya-style Fried Chicken Wings)). We quickly order a bunch of classic items and rarer items and excitedly await Chef Masashi's creations.

The first dish to arrive is one that reflects Nabe-san's heritage: Nagoya-fu Tebakara (Nagoya-style Fried Chicken Wings).

The Chicken Wings are deep-fried, and then topped with a Jikasei Nagoya-fu Tare (Homemade Nagoya-style Tare Sauce). The result is simply the highlight of the evening: Crispy, juicy, lightly-sweet Fried Chicken Wings that are perfectly fried (so that it doesn't retain very much oil). The oil also tastes fresh (a relief considering too many restaurants don't change out their deep fryer oil often enough), and the Fried Chicken Wings are gone in a matter of minutes. Outstanding! (^_^)

Next to arrive are the Hatsu (Grilled Chicken Heart Skewers) and Gyu Tan (Grilled Beef Tongue). The Hatsu are wonderfully smoky and so juicy. Their outstanding smokiness is the result of Nabe-san importing in a certain type of Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) from Japan, which is one of the aspects that made the legendary Yakitori Bincho superior to Torihei's offerings.

The Gyu Tan (Beef Tongue) skewer is also juicy and very beefy. The texture leaves something to be desired; it's not bad, but the density and chewiness of the Gyu Tan takes away from the experience.

One of the daily specials arrives next: Hiza Nankotsu no Karaage (Fried Chicken Leg Cartilage).

There's a good crispy, crunchy quality to Yakyudori's version: The breading is lightly seasoned (thankfully not over-salted), and the Chicken Cartilage turns out to be nicely fried with minimal retention of oil. This is definitely one of the better versions of leg/knee Cartilage that I've had in So Cal, but after having the leaner, purer Yagen Nankotsu (from the Chicken Breast area) from Yakitori Bincho and Torihei, the more common dark meat portion seems too excessive at times.

In our haste to try out the enticing selection of skewers, I realized that we forgot to order drinks. :) Yakyudori offers up a large selection of Sake (19 different types), along with the excellent Koshihikari Echigo Beer. While Koshihikari Echigo was tempting, we decided to go with the safe, smooth Suigei sake from Kochi, Japan.

Perhaps one of the best examples of Nabe-san's style of cooking is with their simple Tebasaki (Chicken Wing) skewers.

Maybe it was Nabe-san just getting warmed up, or the Binchotan not being fully ready yet, but from this point on, for the rest of the evening, the skewers were intensely smoky. The Grilled Chicken Wings here are beautifully cooked, with an almost cracklin'-like, crispy skin, giving way to great juicy Chicken meat beneath. The smoke is intense, but not offputting. Excellent.

Their humorously named Bakudan (literally "Bomb") is an entire head of Garlic, roasted until the insides are a delicious, soft, creamy consistency. A great accompaniment with any of the other skewers.

Next up is Tsukune (Chicken Meat Ball). Chef Masashi serves up their Tsukune dipped in their homemade Tare Sauce. It's very moist, but a touch too sweet and too much on the pasty side. I prefer the Tsukune from Yakitori Bincho, Torihei and especially the Tsukune specialist in Kyoto over this version.

Sasami (Chicken Breast) skewers are always a challenging prospect at many Yakitori restaurants. The inherent leanness in Breast meat can result in a dried out skewer if not cooked with the utmost care. Unfortunately, Yakyudori's Ume Sasami (Chicken Breast with Japanese Plum) falters in that way. It's not bad, but merely average in execution, with a very dry Chicken Breast.

Nabe-san recovers nicely with the next dish: Momo (Chicken Thigh) skewers. Very juicy, but intensely smoky (almost uncomfortably so), it's a loud, smack-you-in-the-face type of skewer and standout in its flavor perspective. I prefer the less smoky, Jidori (All-Natural Chicken) version at Yakitori Bincho, but this is quite good. :)

Our Sunagimo (Chicken Gizzard) skewers arrive within seconds of the previous dish: These are tiny, bite-sized portions, but taste rather flat. It lacks the vibrancy of the upper echelon, but are better than the norm.

At this point, it seems that the kitchen was too overwhelmed because they had forgotten our last 7 dishes; after waiting another 15-20 minutes with nothing arriving, we asked our waitress about the last 7 dishes, and she checked in and came back to apologize, saying they would start on them right away.

The next dish was something I was looking forward to from the moment I saw it on the menu: P Toro (Pork Toro (from the Neck)). :) Fatty, delicious Pork cooked on skewers? What's not to like? :) Imagine my surprise when the P Toro arrives drenched in their Jikasei Tare (Homemade Tare Sauce). I keep an open mind, but after taking the first bite... the Pork is completely overpowered by the sweet Tare Sauce. It's also extremely smoky at this point (strangely so), and the texture of the Pork is too tough and chewy. It's not something I'd order again.

Nabe-san's Negima (Chicken Thigh with Green Onions) rebounds nicely: A wonderfully succulent version, with a strong smokiness (intense, but still enjoyable).

Like Nabe-san's other Nagoya-style offering, their Chikin Miso Katsu (Fried Chicken Cutlet with Miso) is another outstanding creation! :) A beautiful, perfectly fried skewer of Chicken topped with their own homemade Nagoya-style Miso results in a pure, focused, salty, savory morsel of crispy fried goodness! (^_^) Outstanding!

The next dish is another reason to go to Yakyudori (for its variety): Akahimo (Chicken Vein) skewers!

I've never had Chicken Vein before, but I'm glad I tried it: Each bite is a great textural exploration, occupying a space between a good Ika (Squid) and a juicy Momo (Chicken Thigh). The flavors are also really intense, slightly organ-y, smoky, and yet still retaining enough of the more normal Chicken essence one might hope for.

Their Buta Bara (listed simply as "Pork") skewer, on the other hand, is a dry, overly chewy, salty version of the classic Buta Bara.

Surprisingly, one of the highlights of the evening comes from their Tezukuri Atsuage (Homemade Fried Tofu).

There's an extremely fresh Tofu and Soy flavor that comes shining through. The outer crust is so spot-on, and so seductive in its play with a crispiness and a satisfying firmness, that it's one of the best Atsuage renditions in Southern California. Wonderful!

Our final skewer arrives quickly after: Shiitake (Shiitake Mushroom) skewer topped with Bonito Flakes. It turns out to be a solid version of Shiitake, beautifully fragrant, if a bit overcooked (too dry in some pieces).

We finish up with their Tori Zousui (Japanese Rice Porridge). Unfortunately, it's a fairly typical version of a Zousui, chunky, salty and very straightforward. But for a Yakitori restaurant, it's understandable (i.e., it's not their specialty). It's a far cry from the I-would-drive-from-anywhere-in-Cali, legendary Zousui of Yakitori Bincho (which is made-from-scratch, made when you order(!)), but it's perfectly fine if you happen to crave it at the end of a meal here. :)

Service is just fine for a classic Yakitori restaurant, with a few waitresses taking care of the whole restaurant; just flag them down if you need anything. The service is friendly, energetic and eager-to-please. :) Prices are fair ranging from $3 - $8 per dish. With Sake, we averaged ~$45 per person (including tax and generous tip).

Yakitori Yakyudori is a wonderful surprise in the Hillcrest area: Chef Masashi Nabe is a true Yakitori Master, creating grilled skewers that are generally intensely smoky with big flavors. His Nagoya heritage comes through with his amazing Nagoya-fu Tebakara (Nagoya-style Fried Chicken Wings) and Chikin Miso Katsu (Fried Chicken Cutlet Skewers with Homemade Nagoya Miso), both worth visiting the restaurant for, along with many other classic Yakitori offerings.

While there are some misses, Yakitori Yakyudori falls squarely in the upper echelon of Yakitori specialists in Southern California, behind Yakitori Bincho in comparative dishes, but ahead of Torihei in the flavor department (although Chef Masataka Hirai's grill work is superior in some ways, their lack of Japanese Binchotan and flavor infusions at times has them fall just short of Yakyudori). But at the end of the day, like the best restaurants you come across, Yakitori Yakyudori exudes the passion and love and care of the chef in the kitchen, and that's all you can hope for. Highly recommended.

*** Rating: 8.8 (out of 10.0) ***

Yakitori Yakyudori
3739 6th Avenue, #B
San Diego, CA 92103
Tel: (619) 692-4189

Hours: 7 Days A Week, 6:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. (Last Call at 12:30 a.m.)

-----
Yakitori Yakyudori
3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

 
 
 
 
  1. e
    exilekiss Aug 4, 2009 02:44 PM

    Attaching more Pics. For all remaining Pictures, please see Link in Original Post above. Thanks.

     
     
     
    1. SaltyRaisins Aug 4, 2009 04:40 PM

      Amazing review- made me take a new look at a place I love, and made me want to stop in for some gizzards 'n beer later.

      A heads-up: Nabe-san takes Friday, Saturday and Mondays off. I really noticed a difference when he wasn't around. The food is still very good, but Nabe has a sense of pacing- your skewers arrive regularly but with an interval in between, in some order that I sense is based on richness. This tends to disappear when he's not around and you're stuck at the table only a few minutes into your meal with, like, five plates of yakitori.

      Cheers!

      1 Reply
      1. re: SaltyRaisins
        e
        exilekiss Aug 4, 2009 08:03 PM

        Hi SaltyRaisins,

        Thank you. :) I envy you for having such a nice local place; makes me all the more eager to return to visit my friends near Hillcrest more often. (^_~)

        Thanks for the info on Nabe-san. When we went, Nabe-san was there and was very gracious. The restaurant just seemed really busy was all.

      2. a
        attran99 Aug 4, 2009 07:27 PM

        Great review, exilekiss! We're headed to San Diego in the next couple of weeks, and this rec along with Cafe Chloe is perfect. We have three boys (6, 4, and 3), would this be an appropriate place to take them along as well?

        3 Replies
        1. re: attran99
          e
          exilekiss Aug 4, 2009 08:06 PM

          Hi attran99,

          Thanks. (^_^) Oh, I think you'll like Yakitori Yakyudori a lot. :) Yes, when we went, there was one couple with a baby. It's a boisterous, lively spot, very casual, so I don't think there'd be any problems. :)

          For Cafe Chloe, I think if you were seated at one of their outside patio tables that might work (unless your children were well-behaved). Chloe seems to be a more intimate spot at night, but not sure what it's like during the day / lunch. They also have a "back room" area that was empty when we went. Perhaps you might get a table there that might work. Let me know if you end up visiting either place. :)

          1. re: exilekiss
            a
            attran99 Aug 4, 2009 08:52 PM

            Thanks, exilekiss! I think Cafe Chloe will be a date night with just me and the hubby! Seems like it might be a better choice than Oceanaire. I'll totally let you know what we thought when we get back.

            1. re: attran99
              e
              exilekiss Aug 5, 2009 08:07 AM

              Hi attran99,

              Nice. :) I ended up visiting a couple other restaurants in the area while I was visiting my friends. I should have something posted on them soon. Enjoy your vacation. :)

        2. OCAnn Aug 12, 2009 01:15 PM

          OMG...ahead of Torihei in the flavour department?!? Here's my SD to do list now:

          1. Yakitori Yakyudori
          2. Market
          3. Kaito

          14 Replies
          1. re: OCAnn
            honkman Aug 12, 2009 02:03 PM

            Just curious - why Market ? It is a decent restaurant but I think there are better restaurants in SD for this type of high-end french/california type of cuisine) e.g. Cavaillon, Arterra, 9-10. (There are number of other restaurants I haven't visited yet but heard from friends that they are very good, e.g. Kitchen 1540, George's, 1500 Ocean)

            1. re: honkman
              OCAnn Aug 12, 2009 03:37 PM

              Handful of Market (Del Mar) reviews on CH from last year looked great...maybe it was the case of "the new kid on the block". Has there been a downhill trend? Sounds like I'll need to do a thorough search & review before I make my choice. The other two nicer restaurants I've been to are Pamplemousse Grill & Georges; liked them both. If you care to share your top 3 in SD, I'd love to know!

              1. re: OCAnn
                honkman Aug 12, 2009 04:04 PM

                Over the last 1-2 years I go now very often for finer dining to LA (most of the higher end places in SD serve often at least for me and my wife boring food with average service. For us fine dining is about very creative and unusual food , e.g. Providence, Hatfields, Animal etc. but other people might have different expectation for such type of restaurants and depending on that you might like Market which was nicely executed but not creative) and go more to the lower cost places in SD and so as a consequence as I wrote there are a few places I have yet to try and which sound interesting and others might comment on them as good choices for you. In addition some interesting placesl ike Blanca and El Biz just lost their chefs and it might not be the best time to go there.
                I would recommend Cavaillon which has a very nice 5 course tasting menu. I also had good food at Arterra even though the last visit was about 1.5 years ago.

                1. re: honkman
                  OCAnn Aug 12, 2009 05:33 PM

                  Thank you. We chow mostly in OC and make it out to LA & SD every now and then. While I agree that LA has better eats than SD, we have to be in SD on occasion and so we look for good eats there.

                  I'll put the ones you & steve mentioned on my list. Thanks guys!

              2. re: honkman
                d
                DougOLis Aug 12, 2009 05:40 PM

                Interesting that you would say that Market isn't creative but then suggest Cavaillon in the same breath. Cavaillon is very well executed but I'm not sure I would consider it to be interesting or creative. Good, but not really a destination restaurant in my opinion. I've found my food at Market to be more interesting albeit sometimes less consistent, but never have I not been pleased. I suppose I might be a sucker for the freshness and Chino produce. Right now I do hold Kitchen 1540 above both Market and Cavaillon though.

                1. re: DougOLis
                  honkman Aug 12, 2009 06:46 PM

                  That's the interesting part of any food discussion board that everybody has a different taste and preferences. (If we would all like the same restaurants we would never get a reservation :). I agree that Cavaillon is not the most creative restaurant you will find anywhere but we had a few tasting menus recently there and found all of them very interesting (they also made everytime spontanous changes to the tasting menus so that we always had new dishes to try).
                  And Kitchen 1540 is on my to-do list for SD.

                  1. re: honkman
                    d
                    daantaat Aug 12, 2009 07:32 PM

                    I would put Kitchen 1540 under Market on my list. Granted, this is based on one dinner, but what I found good were the charcuterie and cheese plate (very little kitchen prep required--just find a good source for both and you're good to go) and dessert. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly what I had for the 1st course but there were fiddlehead ferns and some other seasonal greens. I thought it was overall "ok," but nothing that knocked my socks off. My entree was a whole grilled branzino w/ shishito peppers and the little Japanese mushrooms that are not enoki and are served w/ udon (the name is escaping me right now). I love branzino and it was well-executed, but the overall flavor profile was a little flat and bland. It lacked the layering of subtle flavors that Addison has or a balanced "punch" of fresh flavors that I prefer if it's not understated cooking. Even a hit of kosher salt didn't quite do the trick.

                    I can't recall what I had for dessert, although the memory is it was decent.

                    Their prices were fair, especially for the Del Mar area. If I was staying at L'Auberge, I'd go there any day over Sbicca's. If someone picked it for dinner, I'd happily oblige. However, I still think Market easily outdid the meal I had at Kitchen 1540.

              3. re: OCAnn
                s
                stevewag23 Aug 12, 2009 02:32 PM

                Yeah, I would say Yakitori Yakyudori and Kaito are great choices.

                Market, not so sure.

                1. re: stevewag23
                  OCAnn Aug 12, 2009 03:44 PM

                  What would you recommend in its place? And maybe a suggestion for north county too.

                  1. re: OCAnn
                    s
                    stevewag23 Aug 12, 2009 04:27 PM

                    Not a big north county fan.

                    Cafe Chloe or Jaynes Gastropub would be cool.

                    1. re: OCAnn
                      d
                      daantaat Aug 12, 2009 07:34 PM

                      I wouldn't have any problem leaving Market on your list. I think it's your best option for N. County Coastal, short of Addison in Carmel Valley. Cavaillon is also very good, although it's about 10 minutes inland from the 5 freeway.

                      Been to Blanca twice in the past month and it's still decent, although I had badly shucked oysters for one meal. I think they were shucked ahead of time (big no-no) and were a little shriveled and lacking liquor. Their black truffle popcorn is to die for!

                      1. re: daantaat
                        OCAnn Aug 12, 2009 09:59 PM

                        That's good to know (re Market). Thanks for your input!

                        1. re: OCAnn
                          chris2269 Aug 12, 2009 10:27 PM

                          I think if you do Kitchen 1540 you have to request the Chef's tasting menu in advance. In my opinion the regular menu though simple and useing great ingedients is a bit tame.

                  2. re: OCAnn
                    e
                    exilekiss Aug 12, 2009 11:29 PM

                    Hi OCAnn,

                    Yah, but note that Torihei is very close to it, and Torihei also has the amazing Kyoto-style Oden Menu that Yakyudori doesn't have (and the wonderful premium Sansho... Mmm... :). But that being said, Yakyudori is wonderful and a must-visit if you're in the area. :)

                  3. cgfan Aug 20, 2009 06:16 PM

                    exilekiss: A great review on my favorite YY! Glad you gave focus to Nabe-chan in your review, as the man makes the restaurant in more ways than one.

                    Just wanted to add that if you ever find yourself back in S.D. and give YY another go, be sure to look out for their Gyu Horumon. In YY's case they use the term to specifically identify beef intestines, as opposed to offal in general. They used to do it as a rare special on slow nights due to the extensive prep required, but I see that they now have it much more frequently, though still only as a special's board item.

                    I feel it's by far their best item, even when pitted against their already heavy-hitting lineup full of very well-excecuted offerings. But it must only be ordered when Nabe-chan's at the grill; it makes a huge difference!

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: cgfan
                      e
                      exilekiss Aug 21, 2009 08:44 AM

                      Hi cgfan,

                      Thanks for the rec on the Gyu Horumon. It looks delicious and is definitely a rarity at many Kushiyaki places here in LA. Can't wait to go back. :)

                      1. re: exilekiss
                        cgfan Oct 6, 2009 04:51 PM

                        Update! This just in (Tues, Oct 6 '09)...

                        Just received a text from Nabe-san (Yakitori Yakyudori) that the Gyu Horumon will be on the specials board this week. No indication on how long it is expected to last, but for those who have been wanting to try it, it's finally in!

                        My advice: get there before me! :-)

                        -----
                        Yakitori Yakyudori
                        3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                        1. re: cgfan
                          e
                          exilekiss Oct 8, 2009 07:54 AM

                          Hi cgfan,

                          Thanks for the update. :) I'll see if I can stop by for a visit this week or next. :)

                          1. re: cgfan
                            s
                            stevewag23 Oct 15, 2009 02:40 PM

                            How was it?

                            1. re: stevewag23
                              cgfan Oct 15, 2009 03:27 PM

                              It was good enough to order Okawari (seconds), something that I almost never do. (It's practically a rule of mine...)

                              http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

                              As good as it was, the second one was even better. Like no other item on their menu the Horumon comes closest to delivering on the taste experience of pure Umami. In this context the taste of any easily identifiable protein would only be a distraction.

                              I think that's why I like it so much... Whereas with the other items on the menu there's an incredibly harmonious pairing of Umami along with the familiar taste of the protein item, with the Horumon one can essentially enjoy a nearly abstract taste experience.

                              Though it's essentially offal, in my mind the taste experience transcends that of the more common protein items and deserves its place on a level above, not below, that of chicken or beef.

                      2. r
                        rquitaso Sep 9, 2009 02:10 PM

                        finally, got a chance to try yakitori yakyudori with the wife this past weekend. needless to say, loved it! feel free to check pics out here:

                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/renandro...

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: rquitaso
                          cgfan Sep 10, 2009 11:00 PM

                          Beautiful pics, rquitaso! Now I need to go again. I can never tire of YY!

                          1. re: rquitaso
                            e
                            exilekiss Sep 14, 2009 07:48 AM

                            Hi rquitaso,

                            Very nice! :) I'm glad you enjoyed Yakyudori as well. Love the dishes here. (Nice pics. :)

                            What was your favorite dish so far?

                            1. re: exilekiss
                              r
                              rquitaso Sep 14, 2009 12:09 PM

                              thanks exilekiss. we had several favorites for several reasons, but i'd have to say our top three:

                              1) rolled pork with shiso - so juicy and satisfying
                              2) chicken wing - nice balance of everything
                              3) marinated quail eggs w/ horseradish - great in-between snack

                              that's not to say we didn't love the heart, ptoro, and tongue as well, its hard to pick faves. i have to say, i personally enjoyed the smelt and okra very much. all the side-dishes we had were just as interesting and satisfying as the yakitori itself. there is nothing we wouldn't order again.

                              1. re: rquitaso
                                r
                                rquitaso Sep 17, 2009 10:47 AM

                                correction on my post - marinated quail eggs with chinese mustard. thanks cgfan

                                1. re: rquitaso
                                  e
                                  exilekiss Sep 21, 2009 08:28 AM

                                  Hi rquitaso,

                                  Nice. :) Have you tried Yakyudori's Nagoya-fu Tebakara (Nagoya-style Fried Chicken Wings)? I love both styles of their Chicken Wings, but these Nagoya-style ones definitely stand out from most other places' version with the flavoring.

                                  1. re: exilekiss
                                    r
                                    rquitaso Sep 21, 2009 10:47 AM

                                    have not, but i did note that on your review. definitely a must-order for our next visit. thanks!

                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                      r
                                      rquitaso Oct 8, 2009 08:53 AM

                                      went for a follow-up visit. you were right about the nagoya-style wings. wow.

                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/renandro...

                                      1. re: rquitaso
                                        e
                                        exilekiss Oct 13, 2009 08:05 AM

                                        Hi rquitaso,

                                        Ahh... I shouldn't have looked at your pics. :) I'm so missing the Nagoya-style Wings right now. :)...

                                        Glad you liked the dish!

                              2. kare_raisu Sep 15, 2009 10:03 PM

                                Co workers and I usually end up after work here at 11pm - we've done most of the menu. Every time Rolled Pork with shiso and that amazing ume plum sauce and beef radish always end up in multiple orders on or table next to rice.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kare_raisu
                                  e
                                  exilekiss Sep 21, 2009 08:29 AM

                                  Hi kare_raisu,

                                  Thanks for reminding me about their wonderful hours as well (open till 1:00 a.m.). :) And thanks for the tip on the Beef Radish dish. I'll definitely give it a try next time. :)

                                2. c
                                  cookieshoes Sep 17, 2009 07:35 AM

                                  Me and my wife adore this place.

                                  As a tip for newcomers, don't be afraid to order a bowl of rice and a salad along with the skewers. It can ease the wait between being able to place an order for more skewers, which at our table were devoured immediately after they hit the table.

                                  In addition to the favorites mentioned in the excellent original post, I have to give a hearty recommendation for the grilled shishito peppers. An amazing buttery/smoky flavor. Probably the most surprisingly delicious item on the menu. The peppers themselves are very mild, but occasionally you may get one with some heat. This is a wonderful skewer, because it nicely holds its own amongst all of the delicious meat skewers on the menu. So, there's some nice variety to be had.

                                  Also, the bacon-wrapped asparagus are fantastic. As is the case with many of the skewers, the look of the dish can't possibly convey just how delicious those little guys are. You get ready to eat one expecting a certain flavor, and you get hit with something sooooo much better.

                                  The Pucchi tomatoes were wonderful as well. Just some grilled tomatoes with some salt. Sweet, smoky, wonderfulness. Like the peppers, they nicely round out the menu.

                                  I'm in agreement with the original poster when it comes to the chicken breast and chicken meatball skewers. Not so much that I didn't like them (which I very much did), but that they have a little less "wow" factor than the other skewers on the menu. Don't get me wrong, they're great. The chicken breast comes with the choice of preparation (wasabi, cheese, etc.), and the chicken meatball has a nice outside grill on it. But, in the end I think that the pork skewer and the shiso pork are better dishes than either the chicken breast or chicken meatball skewers. Same goes for the beef and the beef with radish and ponzu. And if you're going to go chicken, it's all about the Teba chicken wings anyway, since those are as good as it gets.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cookieshoes
                                    e
                                    exilekiss Sep 21, 2009 08:30 AM

                                    Hi cookieshoes,

                                    Thanks for your detailed reply. :) I love Shishito Peppers and will have to try them next time at Yakyudori (we didn't have enough stomachs to try those and a few other items that looked delicious :).

                                    1. re: exilekiss
                                      cgfan Sep 21, 2009 10:43 AM

                                      Indeed. I always advise people heading out for YY to always consider the non-protein items heavily, as meals at any Yakitori-ya tends to be very much protein driven. For me a must are the Pucchi Tomato, which I enjoy one by one in between protein items as a nice and refreshingly acidic palate cleanser. Shishito peppers are probably a second favorite for me, as it adds a clear vegetal dimension to the meal.

                                      And for all YY fans please try their Horamon (beef intestine) on the rare times when they have it on special; Nabe-san's skill at prepping and grilling these are unparalleled and elevates it to a whole new level. It's by far my favorite YY item.

                                      1. re: cgfan
                                        e
                                        exilekiss Sep 24, 2009 08:56 AM

                                        Hi cgfan,

                                        Thanks. Very cool. :) I can't wait to try the Beef Intestine skewer next time.

                                        1. re: cgfan
                                          WasabiBratwurst Oct 6, 2009 09:46 PM

                                          I heard from the bird that there might be some horumon this week at YY? Please confirm!

                                          1. re: WasabiBratwurst
                                            cgfan Oct 6, 2009 10:11 PM

                                            Yup, just got a text from Nabe-san himself that they'll have it this week! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6420...

                                    2. d
                                      deeznuts Oct 13, 2009 11:07 PM

                                      I love Yakitori. My friend owns Ebisu right next to it and since we hang out in their bar all the time, Yakitori is quite often our dinner spot.

                                      does anyone know if they use coal or gas? I love the place, but I'm a grilling snob, and I swear I taste a faint gas flavor on the meat sometimes. I'm a coal snob that uses a chimney (no lighter fluid) so it reminds me of coals lit with fluid, or a non-optimal air/gas mixture if it''s a gas flame.

                                      Like I said, not enough for me not to love the place, but enough to catch my attention. Yeah I don't know why I never walked the 2 feet to look at the damn grill.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: deeznuts
                                        c
                                        cookieshoes Oct 13, 2009 11:24 PM

                                        To quote exilekiss' excellent first post:

                                        "Their outstanding smokiness is the result of Nabe-san importing in a certain type of Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) from Japan, which is one of the aspects that made the legendary Yakitori Bincho superior to Torihei's offerings."

                                        Sit at the bar and if you stay long enough you'll eventually see them replenish the supply of "sticks" to stock the grill. No fuel or artificial additives to be found. Just some sticks, a short iron makeshift grill, some japanese newspaper laid out to catch the drippings, salt and pepper, and some fantastic yakitori.

                                        One of the very best dining experiences in San Diego!

                                        1. re: cookieshoes
                                          cgfan Oct 13, 2009 11:39 PM

                                          Just a minor correction; Nabe-san uses a mixture of Bincho-tan and Oga Bincho-tan. Bincho-tan is the charcoal that looks like branches, as that's just what they are, carefully produced over days at varying termperatures devoid of oxygen. The end result is a charcoal that when struck togther rings like glass, and people even have made musical instruments out of them.

                                          He also uses Oga Bincho-tan, which is an extruded product made in a process similar to Bincho-tan but reconstituted in a form which makes them easier to use. It looks like a squarish bone with a hole where the marrow would otherwise be. Straight Bincho-tan is notoriously difficult to work with, while the Oga Bincho is very easy to use.

                                          Both are very high quality products that burns absolutely clean. Beware that most of the extruded charcoal products that one is likely to come across has plenty of additives and accelerants to it which does not burn cleanly at all, and can never be used indoors. On the other hand Bincho-tan and Oga Bincho-tan is often uses indoors and is known to be smokeless. (I had to special order my Oga Bincho-tan.)

                                          1. re: cgfan
                                            c
                                            cookieshoes Oct 13, 2009 11:47 PM

                                            Wow! Excellent post!

                                            1. re: cookieshoes
                                              d
                                              deeznuts Oct 14, 2009 12:56 AM

                                              sweet thanks for the info. I thought it was fairly faint so it puzzled me, glad that cleared it up! Last time I was there my ex-gf was at their small bar so I never ventured near it :D

                                              Now I want some beef tongue.

                                            2. re: cgfan
                                              e
                                              exilekiss Oct 14, 2009 08:39 AM

                                              Hi cgfan,

                                              Thanks for the info. :) Nabe-san was quite busy when I said "Hi" so I understand why he might not have the time to delineate both types to me. I wish we were able to sit at the bar, but we had too many people to crowd the Yakitori Bar. Can't wait to go back. :)

                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                s
                                                stevewag23 Oct 15, 2009 02:43 PM

                                                Good info.

                                                I will admit I never knew this.

                                          2. s
                                            stevewag23 Nov 9, 2009 11:32 PM

                                            Recently had the jellyfish and sea urchin dish.

                                            One of the most interesting dishes I have had in a while.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: stevewag23
                                              r
                                              rquitaso Nov 10, 2009 02:49 PM

                                              "interesting" in a good or bad way? i would like to know what you think.

                                              i have had it as well. i love uni but never had jellyfish before. it was interesting to say the least. honestly, don't know if i liked it or not but my wife and i finished it.

                                              http://tinyurl.com/yhrxbtv

                                              1. re: rquitaso
                                                s
                                                stevewag23 Nov 10, 2009 04:01 PM

                                                Interesting in a good way.

                                                Not something that I would crave all the time but very unique.

                                                My first time eating jellyfish also.

                                              2. re: stevewag23
                                                e
                                                exilekiss Nov 10, 2009 09:02 PM

                                                Hi stevewag23,

                                                Thanks for the update. :) Was it Jellyfish and Sea Urchin grilled over coals?(!) or how was it prepared? Thanks.

                                                1. re: exilekiss
                                                  s
                                                  stevewag23 Nov 10, 2009 09:59 PM

                                                  I wish I could answer that for sure.

                                                  It kind of just arrived.

                                                  But there was no "cooked" aspect to it so I am 99% sure it wasn't.

                                                  Came served in a little bowl.

                                              3. SaltyRaisins Nov 19, 2009 10:38 PM

                                                So tonight Nabe-chan said "Abe-san...you like ramen?" I said, "Hell yes, I like ramen. But where do you go for it in SD? Tajima just doesn't cut it, y'know?" and he said "We are opening another restaurant on Convoy in January- ramen and yakitori." We talked a bit more, and he isn't going to do tonkotsu-type, but simpler types- miso, shoyu, shio, and cha-shu. If his attention to detail with little grilled chunks of stuff is any measure, his ramen is bound to be great. Let's cross our fingers...

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                  cgfan Nov 20, 2009 01:03 AM

                                                  Just what I've been looking for, a decent Ramen-ya in S.D. that specializes in Shio or Shoyu-men. Tonkotsu's alright, but Shio's my favorite and I'm always game for a good Shoyu-men.

                                                  Good news indeed, SR. Thanks for the lead.

                                                  1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                    Tripeler Nov 20, 2009 01:20 AM

                                                    Ramen AND Yakitori would be a very unlikely combination in Japan. Still, it's what SD people want, and certainly worth seeing if it can succeed.

                                                    1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                      d
                                                      daantaat Nov 20, 2009 04:51 PM

                                                      keep us posted w/ the name and location!

                                                      1. re: daantaat
                                                        SaltyRaisins Nov 20, 2009 09:26 PM

                                                        Call this one a group effort...we'll keep each other in the loop. I asked why not Hillcrest? and received the expected "rent, overhead etcetera" answer. Really wish this could be closer to home, but I really trust him to do it right wherever he sets up.

                                                        An addendum: the fried teba have recovered their wingtips. I love eating the crispy bits, and missed them. But they're back. The only place I'll order fried chicken ... Actually, Sab-e-Lee makes a good one too... Finally, a burden of plenty in SD for "asian" fried chicken. Good city, good city.

                                                    2. honkman Jan 17, 2010 11:24 PM

                                                      Last night we had to find a place for a late dinner (11pm) and after Starlite had a waiting list of at least 30 minutes we thought it was a good time to try out Yakitori Yakyudori which is for quite some time on our list since it gets very good reviews on CH. We went there with very high expectations and it is of course always hard to judge a restaurant after a first visit but overall we have mixed feelings about it so far.
                                                      We had some very good dishes - Homemade fried tofu, asparagus bacon . Several dishes which were OK but nothing really special – kimchi, sea urchin with jellyfish, shiitake, eringi, rice porridge, baby octopus with seaweed salad. And some dishes which were quite disappointing. Hatsu. - I was very happy to see chicken hearts on the menu since I have eaten it a lot in Germany, I like the flavor and texture of it and my mother has several great dishes where she uses chicken heart. The version at Yakitori Yakyudori was flavorless, chewy and simply not good. A second disappointment was rolled pork with shiso. If you serve dishes which focus on one main ingredient it is always important to get top quality ingredients. Recently we have eaten some great pastured pork and actually had some great Blue Butt pork chops the night before at Linkery which really showed how good pork can taste. I don’t know where Yakitori Yakyudori gets its pork but it was very flavorless and tasted like pork you would get in supermarket.
                                                      Surprisingly the service wasn’t good. There was no place at the bar when we came but only four other tables were occupied and a total of three waitresses were working so that it is hard to say that they were overwhelmed. Unfortunately none of them knew which dishes they run out (many of the dishes we wanted weren’t available), they brought us the bill when we were still waiting for dishes and weren’t even aware that we were still waiting for them, they brought the wrong dishes to the wrong table etc.
                                                      Overall we can understand why some people like Yakitori Yakyudori (and will definitely come back to try out more dishes) but at the same time it is hard to understand after this visit why some people argue that it is a must visit restaurant.

                                                      34 Replies
                                                      1. re: honkman
                                                        d
                                                        daantaat Jan 18, 2010 01:21 PM

                                                        Honkman, it sounds like you got a lot of the non-grilled items. We went early and had a good dinner, mostly made of the grilled stuff and I don't recall them running out of things. Shiitake mushrooms are dry and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it b/c there's better stuff on the menu.

                                                        1. re: daantaat
                                                          honkman Jan 18, 2010 01:35 PM

                                                          We wanted a few more grilled items in our first round of ordering but they were out of them. Since some of the weakest items of this first round were grilled meat items (hatsu, rolled pork) we were a bit reluctant to order more grilled meat items. And the problem with the shiitake weren't that they were dry but some pieces were quite charred whereas other were hardly grilled. Many of the grilled items in general were either quite charred or had hardly any smoky flavour. We found those items not very balanced.

                                                        2. re: honkman
                                                          s
                                                          stevewag23 Jan 18, 2010 01:41 PM

                                                          Honkman, sorry you had less than a stellar experience.

                                                          For what its worth, I have only had great service there (I have only sat at the tables once), I fully recommend getting reservations for the bar.

                                                          Not making excuses for them, but Sunday night, (and monday night) are historically bad nights to eat restaurants, and could be the reasons they were out of dishes.

                                                          Many restaurants get deliveries on Tuesday, Thurs, Friday.

                                                          By Sunday, many places that are busy and turning over product (a good thing) are less stocked up on Sunday night.

                                                          I say go again, mid week with a reservation.

                                                          1. re: stevewag23
                                                            honkman Jan 18, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                            We ate at Yakitori Yakyudori on Saturday night and yes normally we always try to do reservations but this visit wasn't planned.

                                                            1. re: honkman
                                                              cgfan Jan 18, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                              ...and was the owner/grill-master Nabe-san there? His presence is a must for a good meal at YY, for he's the one that makes it all happen at the grill.

                                                              1. re: cgfan
                                                                honkman Jan 18, 2010 02:39 PM

                                                                I don't know how Nabe-san looks like.

                                                                1. re: honkman
                                                                  cgfan Jan 18, 2010 02:47 PM

                                                                  He' s the lean and clean-cut guy on the grill. The only other person I've ever seen on the grill is his substitute who has wild hair and tattoos, someone who might look like your typical Ramen chef.

                                                                  1. re: cgfan
                                                                    honkman Jan 18, 2010 03:59 PM

                                                                    The only guy I saw working at the grill (but I hadn't the best view of the kitchen/grill) was a guy with tattoes and a lot of earrings.

                                                                    1. re: honkman
                                                                      cgfan Jan 18, 2010 04:22 PM

                                                                      That's Nabe's replacement when he's not there. Unfortunately from my many experiences with both at the grill, that's the biggest predictor of the type of meal that one will have at YY.

                                                                      Although due to distance sometimes I just have to go whenever I have the time and opportunity rather than upon who's "on deck", there's been a 100% correlation between profound vs. dull meals at YY and who's working the grill. As I've mentioned before in another thread on S.D. culinary heroes Nabe-san is one of mine due to his amazing skills at the grill.

                                                                      1. re: cgfan
                                                                        honkman Jan 18, 2010 04:39 PM

                                                                        It's disappointing that the quality of the kitchen is so different depending who is cooking. There should be always at least a certain level of quality (e.g. when we go to Cafe Chloe and Katie is not in we know that Jacob is a perfect replacement with know loss of quality)
                                                                        Are there certain days in the week when there is a high likelihood to find Nabe in the kitchen/grill ?

                                                                        1. re: honkman
                                                                          cgfan Jan 18, 2010 04:54 PM

                                                                          I used to have that information somewhere, but I can't seem to find it. It was also mentioned a couple of times on these boards, so a search may turn up the days. However from my recollection he tends to be there in the middle of the week, though I believe he might be there on Fridays as well.

                                                                          Actually I'm not that surprised about cuisines that are highly dependent on who's on board. Actually I kind of like cuisines like that, since it says much about how kitchen skills just cannot be commoditized.

                                                                          Such is the case with Sushi and espresso, to the extent whereby whenever I give a recommendation it seldom is with a specific shop as it is with a specific person at a specific shop.

                                                                          1. re: cgfan
                                                                            SaltyRaisins Jan 18, 2010 05:33 PM

                                                                            Nabe's days off are listed above and are still current. I've never once had bad service there, just occasional mix-ups that are typical of a restaurant that serves lots of little dishes.

                                                          2. re: honkman
                                                            kare_raisu Jan 20, 2010 08:52 AM

                                                            Pork shiso is one of my favorite kebabs here. I don't know if I would be so concerned about the quality of the pork - since there is so little of it. Its more of a 'bulk' if you will for the flavor of the shiso herb and ume plum sauce.

                                                            You are right on the chicken heart though - its lackluster for sure.
                                                            I agree about the statement regarding Nabe-san. He does need to be there. We also really like just one of the waitresses - who goes above and beyond to make sure you are accommodated.

                                                            Next time you go - try the beef radish.

                                                            1. re: kare_raisu
                                                              c
                                                              cookieshoes Jan 20, 2010 01:44 PM

                                                              Speaking of quality of ingredients, it is funny to me that there are certain types of restaurants that get a free-pass when it comes to what they use. Perhaps it has something to do with the type of cuisine. Because, for the most part, Yakyudori uses a lot of pre-packaged ingredients and sauces to go with their meats.

                                                              I don't mind at all, because I'm not one of the ones who makes a point of "farm to table" this or "grassfed" that. Sure, I enjoy it when I'm in that type of place. But, I don't specifically need housemade ketchup or mayo, although those can be nice.

                                                              But, from having eaten many a meal at the bar at Yakyudori, I do know that they use stuff pretty much straight from the grocery store. I've seen raw ground pork (or maybe chicken?) come out of the kitchen to get prepped, in that specific yellow styrofoam bottom carton with plastic wrap over it, and a price tag showing. I've also watched them make the Sake Chazuke (chunks of salmon sitting on top of a bowl of broth ) using pre-cooked/seasoned salmon from a jar that you can pick up at Mitsuwa. I watched the guy go through a few of the jars getting the chunks of salmon out, and letting it "plop" onto the soup.

                                                              Doesn't change my opinion of YY at all. I still love it. It's essentially the restaurant equivalent of a good taco truck, where they use store-bought (oftentimes frozen) meats, grill it in front of you, and use premade ingredients here and there. I can see how others might pick up on some of the nuances of the things that aren't homemade or of the freshest quality, but it doesn't bother me.

                                                              1. re: cookieshoes
                                                                s
                                                                stevewag23 Jan 20, 2010 02:04 PM

                                                                "it is funny to me that there are certain types of restaurants that get a free-pass when it comes to what they use"

                                                                Its is true. Certain restaurants Do get a pass.

                                                                Especially authentic restaurants.

                                                                For instance, if san diego were blessed with a great chef from san sebastian, I wouldn't care if he was using micro-greens from imperial beach on his tapas.

                                                                1. re: stevewag23
                                                                  c
                                                                  cookieshoes Jan 20, 2010 02:16 PM

                                                                  See, that's exactly my point. There are many posts on this board where comments are made about the quality of ingredients needing to be like this or like that. "Go to this restaurant because they use this type of pork" or "This restaurant makes the best xxx such and such because they use xxxx meat/vegetable." That's fine, but when a place doesn't use those types of ingredients, they often get criticized, which I think is silly.

                                                                  If the taste is spot on, it ultimately doesn't matter to me what they're using. It's not as if places are using trash by going commodity or premade, no matter what the farm-to-table fans think. Which is why I'll always be a fan of Rocky's burgers or the carnitas from El Porvenir. There are more fancy ingredient versions of both those types of dishes to be found all over town. But, I love the versions I get at those places, regardless of what type of beef or pork they're using.

                                                                  Besides, if Yakyudori started using farm-fresh chicken, the chances are that those wonderful $4 and $8 skewers would quickly become $10 and $15 skewers.

                                                                  1. re: cookieshoes
                                                                    s
                                                                    stevewag23 Jan 20, 2010 02:45 PM

                                                                    I agree, and although I appreciate the knowledge of different ingredients, I don't think I would not go to a restaurant if its good and doesn't use small farms.

                                                                    However, I shop almost exclusively at farmer's markets.

                                                                    But if a restaurant came to san diego that was serving excellent "traditional beach style Somali Pirate cuisine", I would eat there no matter where there ingredients were coming from.

                                                                    1. re: stevewag23
                                                                      j
                                                                      jayporter Jan 20, 2010 03:01 PM

                                                                      Oh hell yes. I picture a mix of seafood, MRE's, wild African game, and Cap'n Crunch.

                                                                      1. re: jayporter
                                                                        b
                                                                        Beach Chick Jan 20, 2010 05:45 PM

                                                                        Cap'n Crunch coating with diver scallops or grouper sounds sublime..or a Pots de Crème.

                                                                    2. re: cookieshoes
                                                                      honkman Jan 20, 2010 03:06 PM

                                                                      I think it is too difficult to just say places have to either use certain high quality ingredients or the quality of ingredients doesn't matter. (And I don't want to go into a general discussion about food costs and if they are really too high etc.). But I think nobody will disagree that quality of each ingredients will matter how the final product will taste in the end (but will of course also have an effect on the price). Will a burger from a place with high quality beef taste better than one from Rocky/Hodads etc ? Yes, but it will cost more.
                                                                      I think it is especially true that the quality of ingredients matter if the dish has only one main player. Going back to YY and the pork dish I think the quality fo the pork meat matters and is very important for the quality of the overall dish. I find pork from the supermarket very tasteless and you can grill it is good as you want it will still start with tasteless pork. Having higher quality pork would move the dish to a completely different level.

                                                                      1. re: honkman
                                                                        SaltyRaisins Jan 20, 2010 04:50 PM

                                                                        Not that I prefer commodity pork over the real thing, but not sure the shiso-pork has "only one main player". Shiso is a very strong flavor, and the ume puree is strong enough to blackout the other flavors altogether. In this case, the condiments kinda take center stage, and I'd be happy to eat it even if they swapped out the pork and replaced it with a piece of rubber. Although I like this skewer, it's not something I order every time. My regulars:

                                                                        chicken livers
                                                                        chicken heart
                                                                        beef tongue (great with daikoroshi, but you have to ask for some)
                                                                        squid tentacles
                                                                        shishito (peppers)
                                                                        wakasagi (fried whole sardine)
                                                                        plain old chicken thigh with green onion (teba with negi)

                                                                        I'm getting hungry.

                                                                        1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                                          honkman Jan 20, 2010 05:22 PM

                                                                          Since we were there the first time I don't know how the shiso-pork dish should normally taste but we were both surprised that the main taste was pork and nothing else. The ume puree helped a little bit but by far didn't safe the dish. I guess we have to go again in the future and hope that Nabe will be around otherwise I don't think YY is worth a visit.

                                                                        2. re: honkman
                                                                          kare_raisu Jan 20, 2010 05:19 PM

                                                                          ". Having higher quality pork would move the dish to a completely different level."

                                                                          You are right no one can disagree with that statement - but you got to be realistic for the price point. I wish I could eat local/humane/organic cuisine more often at the Linkery or anywhere for that matter. Its just not financially feasible - maybe for you its a different story. However, I can understand how a previous nights dinner could paint your mind to color that of the following.

                                                                          I just dont think comparing Yakudori to Linkery is fair either.

                                                                          1. re: kare_raisu
                                                                            honkman Jan 20, 2010 06:21 PM

                                                                            I think there is a misunderstanding that I expect every restaurant to only use local/humane/organic cuisine which is of course unrealistic - the point I was trying to make is that there are sometimes dishes when somebody feels that in this particular case a higher quality ingredient would have made it much better. The more complex a dish is the easier it normally is to "hide" lower quality ingredients. Reading SR comments it might have been simply the case with the shiso-pork at YY on a regular day that the dish is normally more complex then it was at that night (where you didn't taste anything else than porl) and it wouldn't be really necessary to use higher quality pork since its taste would have been masked by the other ingredients.

                                                                            1. re: honkman
                                                                              kare_raisu Jan 20, 2010 06:31 PM

                                                                              For sure. I would love to experience carnitas from a humanely treated, organic pig butchered that morning or even wild acorn feasting one. Placed up against the albertsons market abc pork - I am positive it would be a revelation.

                                                                              1. re: kare_raisu
                                                                                s
                                                                                stevewag23 Jan 20, 2010 07:18 PM

                                                                                "wild acorn feasting one"

                                                                                Yum.

                                                                                Now that's what we need in this town!

                                                                                1. re: kare_raisu
                                                                                  honkman Jan 20, 2010 08:25 PM

                                                                                  Perhaps we could convince Jay to offer it at the Linkery as a special from time to time.

                                                                        3. re: stevewag23
                                                                          j
                                                                          jayporter Jan 20, 2010 02:30 PM

                                                                          The microgreens from (just outside of) Imperial Beach are as good as any I've ever tasted: http://sungrownorganics.com/ Though I suspect your hypothetical Arzak protege would be more into their full-size produce: http://suziesfarm.com .

                                                                          1. re: jayporter
                                                                            s
                                                                            stevewag23 Jan 20, 2010 02:46 PM

                                                                            Thanks for the name of that place, it escaped me.

                                                                            And yes, it is great.

                                                                        4. re: cookieshoes
                                                                          kare_raisu Jan 20, 2010 05:19 PM

                                                                          Very well said cookieshoes!

                                                                          1. re: cookieshoes
                                                                            e
                                                                            exilekiss Feb 4, 2010 07:32 AM

                                                                            Hi cookieshoes, stevewag23, honkman,

                                                                            Sorry I'm late to the discussion. You bring up some great points in this sub-thread. It makes a *huge* difference, and one of the reasons why the amazing Yakitori Bincho up here in LA was so revered (but now gone :(. Chef-Owner Tomo-san used a Free Range, Natural Chicken and the *flavor* was incredible. He had our esteemed Rameniac and many others enthralled with his Yakitori skewers and rightfully so. I went to try Shin-Sen-Gumi, Torimatsu and other popular places after eating at Bincho and the difference was immediately apparent (that, and Tomo-san's cooking skills :). (And the prices were insanely cheap! Cheaper than Shin Sen Gumi, Torimatsu, Torihei, etc.).

                                                                            For Yakyudori, Chef Nabe's grilling technique and flavor infusions fully utilizing his 2 types of Binchotan (Charcoal from Japan) (as cgfan notes above) help to compensate (partially) for the lack of top notch ingredients. (And thanks honkman, for helping me realize that I need to go when Nabe-san is there (he was when we went).)

                                                                            1. re: cookieshoes
                                                                              Josh Sep 10, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                                              This is way late, but I just revisited this thread and saw this sub-thread.

                                                                              I think it depends on the diner how much of a free pass places get.

                                                                              I'm basically a stickler for non-commodity meat, so I consequently haven't eaten at YY for more than 2 years now.

                                                                              There's a Mexican farm-to-table place in San Francisco called Nopalito, and their carnitas are a revelation. I wish more ethnic places would use quality meat.

                                                                              1. re: Josh
                                                                                c
                                                                                cstr Sep 10, 2010 08:54 AM

                                                                                Stirring the pot, just curious, how strict are you regarding your non-commodity thing? Can't imagine go out to eat too often. As your are well aware, there are plenty of great places to eat, even though they don't meet your personal expectations. BTW - SFO is a nice place to live!

                                                                                1. re: cstr
                                                                                  Josh Sep 10, 2010 09:08 AM

                                                                                  I'm really only strict about meat. Fish, too, to an extent. I avoid things like tuna, sea bass, and I usually consult Monterey Bay Aquarium's guide to which fishes are good. Fortunately, most places with inexpensive fish menus use farmed tilapia, and that's one of the better options available from an environmental standpoint.

                                                                                  Produce and grains I'm less strict with, mainly out of convenience, but also because the environmental cost of vegetables is dramatically different than that of commodity meat production.

                                                                                  Fortunately, San Diego has a large number of spots in the uptown area that offer good food with thoughtfully sourced ingredients. If I'm not at a place like that, then I avoid meat dishes.

                                                                        5. r
                                                                          royaljester Jan 29, 2010 01:07 AM

                                                                          Went with a friend and had a blast, just like a yakitori bar in Japan where you eat with cold draft beer. It was Monday night so not so many people, so we had very prompt service and quick turnaround, ordering three rounds (about 24 pieces for 2). Maybe I got lucky, but the chicken heart was great. Plain torinegi is one of my favorite, but in general most of them are pretty good.

                                                                          I've gone to Yakyudori a couple times over the year, and this one was the best. Maybe going on a Monday helped, because if you've made yakitori yourself you know the fewer you make the better you can judge the time and the fresher you can prepare before cooking. =)

                                                                          BTW if you like torinegi, you can make perfectly good ones at home. You need Tokyo negi from Mitsuwa or Nijiya (basically super jumbo green onions). Nothing can substitute for it. Then get chicken thigh meat (the karaage meat at Mitsuwa/Nijiya is suitable, but you can also dice up chicken). Alternate meat and negi on a skewer, and barbeque until just before it will blacken (i.e. don't let it blacken anywhere, for health reasons). If you want to make any of the more exotic yakitori, then freshness is paramount. Unfortunately I wouldn't recommend liver or chicken hearts from any supermarket I know of.

                                                                          If you don't use a bbq, use an oven. Won't be as great but it'll do.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: royaljester
                                                                            e
                                                                            exilekiss Feb 4, 2010 07:18 AM

                                                                            Hi royaljester,

                                                                            Thanks for the report back. I'm glad to hear you had a great follow-up visit, and that Yakyudori is still going strong (when Nabe-san is there).

                                                                          2. e
                                                                            exilekiss Feb 4, 2010 07:35 AM

                                                                            Adding Restaurant Link with the new Chowhound Restaurant linking system.

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                                                                            Yakitori Yakyudori
                                                                            3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                            1. r
                                                                              royaljester Sep 9, 2010 04:19 PM

                                                                              Anyone go recently? Planning another trip, looking for any thoughts or suggestions. It's been a while!

                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                              1. re: royaljester
                                                                                t
                                                                                tbgallant Sep 10, 2010 07:45 AM

                                                                                Also thinking of going. Curious on portion sizes/cost. Seems like one could order 8-10 'orders' (so 16-20 skewers) for about $40 (plus beers, etc of course). That seem reasonable?

                                                                                Also, I hear a bit about a Happy Hour from 6-7. Any good, worth trying to go during that time? We would be going either Fri, Sat, or Sun night. Happy Hour on weekends too?

                                                                                Tim

                                                                                1. re: royaljester
                                                                                  cgfan Sep 10, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                                  I just recently heard that Yakyudori Ramen (Kearny Mesa) has started their Yakitori service. It should only be days before I'll actually go down and see for myself, but my sources are good.

                                                                                  Ever since Nabe-san left the Hillcrest location to open-up the Convoy Ramen-ya, I've returned to the Hillcrest YY only periodically to see how they're doing, each time being disappointed that the grillmaster's skills hasn't reached that of Nabe-san.

                                                                                  That is until my very last visit there, which is now perhaps 4 months ago or so, where I had a meal there that I felt was good, though still not yet reaching Nabe-san's abilities. Fantastic, or so I thought. Ever since I'd return every month when I'm up in the area on a Monday, only to find them closed. Apparently they had to shut down on Mondays and Tuesdays due to difficulties finding a grillmaster.

                                                                                  Ever since hearing that I have kept my sights focused on the Convoy shop where what Nabe-san (and Haru-san) are doing with the Ramen are just spectacular (their Shio is epic), and I just can't wait to taste Nabe-san's Yakitori again. Whether or not the Hillcrest location would ever be worth going to again I can't say, though if they are ever open up on a Monday again when I'm in the area I'll still give them a try and file a report.

                                                                                  1. re: cgfan
                                                                                    SaltyRaisins Sep 10, 2010 08:16 AM

                                                                                    Thanks for the info. I really miss Nabe's presence and cooking at the Hillcrest location- always a nice atmosphere and a lot closer to me than Convoy. But that's the price we must pay for this one-man band's skills, and his excellent shio-ramen. So glad he chose San Diego...

                                                                                    And tbgallant: you've estimated pretty well for a hungry party of two. There are also some very nice non-grilled items on the menu that accompany the yakitori very well, my favorite of which is simply a mug of good chicken/mushroom broth.

                                                                                    Cheers!

                                                                                    1. re: cgfan
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                                                                                      royaljester Sep 10, 2010 02:48 PM

                                                                                      Oh, well that's good to know because the only reason we're driving all the way to Hillcrest is the Convoy location (half as far away) doesn't serve yakitori.

                                                                                    2. re: royaljester
                                                                                      t
                                                                                      tbgallant Sep 14, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                                                      Yes, I'm also curious if this place is still good even though the original chef has left? Should we still go out of our way to hit this place up (make a reservatoin/etc)

                                                                                      Thanks

                                                                                      Tim

                                                                                      1. re: tbgallant
                                                                                        d
                                                                                        DougOLis Sep 14, 2010 02:18 PM

                                                                                        If you decide to go to the new location in the Kearny Mesa area off Convoy, you'll be right be O'Brien's (for beer) so you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

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                                                                                        Kearny's
                                                                                        8310 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                        1. re: DougOLis
                                                                                          r
                                                                                          RB Hound Sep 14, 2010 03:49 PM

                                                                                          2 birds with 1 stone?

                                                                                          Whether or not it was intentional, Doug, you have made one heck of a pun. I am impressed. :)

                                                                                          1. re: DougOLis
                                                                                            d
                                                                                            daantaat Sep 14, 2010 10:41 PM

                                                                                            How about hit 3 birds w/ 1 stone and add Yogurt World or Crepe World?

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                                                                                            Yogurt World
                                                                                            4646 Convoy St Ste 113, San Diego, CA 92111

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