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Oct 30, 2011 03:10 AM

Ordering in a yakitori restaurant


I've been to Tokyo a few times and will be there again in December. Hoping to get to Fuku (will book via my hotel) but I've always wondered about yakitori ordering etiquette at a more restauranty yakitori place (as opposed to a casual stall like in Yurakucho where it feels perfectly fine to bark orders at the grill dude); my question is this: is it more normal to order all the skewers you want in one hit at the beginning, or progressively through the meal?

And, at Fuku, do you tend to order by the skewer or by the dish? ie. if I ask for "ni hon no tsukune", am I going to get two skewers of tsukune, or two orders/dishes?

Thanks for any advice

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  1. Fuku has English on their menu, and they do get a lot of non-Japanese customers. I really don't think you will have any difficulties there.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      I usually order a big batch of skewers at the beginning, but I might get a few more later if I'm still hungry. A place like Fuku tends to get busy, so it can take awhile to get everything you've ordered. Most upper-end yakitori places will try to bring you the food you ordered at a reasonable pace rather than too quickly. But if you order too slowly there might be long gaps between items.

      Things on skewers are ordered by the skewer, so you'd say "tsukune o nihon" and you'd get two skewers. (The '-hon' counter in 'nihon' is for long, thin objects like skewers, which makes it even clearer.)

      1. re: Robb S

        Order a drink like a beer and 2 (=Nihon) skewers like tsukune, negima(=with leek), and as sometimes the soy-sweet sauce can be heavy. Try also the shio momo(=salted roast).. I don't think the waiter will wait 5mn in this kind of popular 'yakitori' spot, so just order a batch and after, you can take time for your curiosity !!

        1. re: Ninisix

          Out of curiosity, is there a logical / sensible / traditional order in which to order yakitori? Like with nigiri sushi, the logical way is to progress from lighter to heavier flavors. With potentially so many choices and delicious parts in addition to beef, pork, vegetable, seafood, sometimes even I don't know where to begin (or does it depend on what the grill master has done first, which items take the least time to cook to come out first, or do the really good places even take all of that into consideration?)

          1. re: K K

            Order your favorites first. There is no logic involved. This is like the most informal cuisine around. I don't find that the artisan places ever live up to their hype or price. They will serve a course in some progression. It, like sushi, is not standardized nor sensible. Most places are just throwing things over the fire as you order them.

            1. re: K K

              The only rule is that if there's a rice dish on the menu like yaki-onigiri or chazuke, then order that last. There often isn't any rice dish though. Also, I doubt you'll find much beef or seafood in a typical yakitori shop.

        2. re: Tripeler

          I share much of mishkah concern. I have a reservation at 鶏一途 ( at Kobe. I speak no Japanese. Should I order Omakase? The problem is I am not too keen on the offals.

        3. Thanks so much guys, this is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for!

          I plan to have a very good night at Fuku, but then, every night in Tokyo is a good night. :)

          1. We thought Fuku was quite nice, but didn't really live up to expectations - I've had better in other cities. there must be other places in Tokyo that people here rate higher?

            5 Replies
            1. re: davew666

              I posted this a few years ago- . There are a few Japanese food sites that aggregate user ratings and that link shows the list at the time.... I think Fuku came up here a couple of years ago as a good tasting and foreigner friendly option.

              1. re: Silverjay

                That's great, I will have to try one of these out next time I am in Tokyo.

                I should also point out that I did enjoy Fuku, just not as much as I had anticipated. It is very tourist friendly I would agree.

                One place that I had better yakitori was a random shop I found in Sapporo called Fujitori. It does not do anything fancy, just cooks chicken incredibly well - so tasty and juicy! I ate here and at Fuku within a few days, and I know which I will be going back to...

                1. re: davew666

                  dave: I agree. We had a second dinner (yes, I try to eat that much when I'm in Japan) at Fujitori, and the chicken yakitori were amazing. If you're game, go for the chicken liver, heart, gizzard, or innards with soybean - all crazily delicious. Smoky, tight little bar: good luck getting a place as it's constantly packed! We went back twice as it was that good.

              2. re: davew666

                I'm a fan of Souten (03-5944-8105) and Kushibeh (03-3318-7756).

                What places would you recommend in other cities?

                1. re: Robb S

                  I second Robb's suggestion of Kushibeh in Koenji. It has both very good yakitori and an excellent sake selection. Reservations are suggested.