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May 16, 2012 12:05 PM

Yakitori Zai

has Yakitori Zai officially opened yet? If so, does anyone have any reports?

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  1. I don't think it has yet. I thought it could be open by this week or next, but I guess it's not quite ready.

    1. As I reported earlier on the Openings/Closings thread, I walked by last Saturday night and saw them doing what looked to be a friends and family evening.

      1. Anyone seen a menu yet? It is not posted on their website yet.
        I am sincerely hoping that there will be many grilled nasty bits on sticks. I'm tired of driving to New York just to get good Yakitori.....

        1. I have not seen a menu, but I have seen the cooks practicing for hours every night lately.

          1. Being a frequent traveler to Japan I am really hoping this place is authentic and not just an Americanized version of yakitori which usually ends up being just chicken breast or thighs with teriayaki sauce. As stated by Cork, I too hope there are some "nasty bits" too which make for a truely memorbale dining experience.

            17 Replies
                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Yep: hearts, guts, gizzards, cartilage, tail meat, skin. I'll be surprised if they offer a lot of that, but you never know!


                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I asked the guy who looked like he was the owner when I "accidentally" popped in last week and he told me that it's gonna be "very authentic." Hopefully this translates to nasty bits. I recently had chicken knee cartilage yakitori... Was so good.

                    Last week he said he was aiming to open sometime this week.

                    1. re: Mike5966

                      Ok, now you have piqued my curiosity - what about that is good exactly?
                      It sounds like I would be chewing and chewing and chewing....

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        Ever had chicken feet at dim sum? Lots of cartilage, not super-chewy. Chicken tail is nice and fatty. Hearts you may have tried at a churrascaria: tasty in a slightly liverish way. Ditto gizzards, which I most recently had at Casa B.

                        Skin is easy, right? Chicken skin teriyaki is all over Chinatown (had some lovely skewers of it at Dumpling Cafe recently); see also: Buffalo wings. I have not tried chicken intestines yet.

                        Some nice photos here: Don't forget chicken meatballs and livers! Not hard to imagine chasing these with some icy lager or sake.


                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          Knee cartilage is chewy in a good way. You definitely don't have to chew for ages. I'd tried it in a place called Nojo in San Francisco.

                        2. re: Mike5966

                          What did you ask? If it was going to be authentic?

                          1. re: Gabatta

                            I just asked him when they were opening. We ended up chatting about yakitori in general when he volunteered the line about his plans to make Zai authentic on his own.

                            1. re: Mike5966

                              Cool. Looking forward to checking it out.

                      2. re: Bob Dobalina

                        If you want to get really down with it, neck skin is preferable to other skin. One of my favorite parts is the oyster, or the thigh meat which is a that little ball of meat you glide your hand against every time you reach into suit pant pockets. Held together with some skin, it is tasty like leg, but even softer than correctly cooked breast. Best of both worlds, especially with some crispy skin.

                        If they don't get in whole chickens and butcher themselves, it just won't be worth it for me, personally. I'm sure they won't, due to cost. It is likely that enough clamoring from CH'ers for all parts of the chicken to be used will be listened to.

                        1. re: tatsu

                          The cultural classes listed on their website do inspire some confidence that they have a serious appreciation for the art and craft. And in that neighbourhood, perhaps they can still cover their margins while importing high-quality Jidori birds, binchotan, and a lifelong yakitori master (hey we'll buy a $20 taco in that nabe!). But, like ramen, everybody makes it, few actually make it well. Expectations, adjusted. Optimism, cautious.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Heh. Looks I should've consulted the El Centro menu first. I may have been off 4-fold, but those tacos are worth 4-fold less than what they are ! I keed. Sorta. They should charge negative 5 dollars.

                            2. re: Nab

                              Can anyone who has seen them test grilling actually confirm they got approval to use charcoal? That hasn't been reported and while Coppa's wood oven gives me hope, solid fuels in Boston are very rare. While you are at it Nab, instead of importing why don't they raise the birds and make their own charcoal... right in the South End. :-)

                              I do think there is a balance between assuming they will grill chicken breast on a stick and super-high chowhound expectations of focusing on the most obscure of chicken bits. While they aren't necessarily "chewy," some of the other bits take a fair amount of skill and good product to do right particularly if you are only using dry heat and knife skills (eg MC Slim JB's gizzards weren't likely done over charcoal, nor are Chinatown chicken feet). I hope they start off with what they do well and sell enough to keep locals coming back, while doing other bits and doing them well for us food geeks.

                              Update: And please stay open late!

                              1. re: Nab

                                Serious question: I assume as with most meats, chicken is best medium rare, which would not be so bio-problematic in Japan where chickens are raised very differently than the US. (the natural e.Coli infection rate for chickens is around 6%, whereas due to stack-farming, in the US the rate is around 85%.)

                                But unless the chicken is imported at ridiculous prices, or incredibly expensively locally sourced, medium rare chicken is unsafe for a US yakitori joint. So I'd assumed I would never find fantastic yakitori in the US.

                                So assuming that at any US yakitori joint, the chicken must be heated to well-done temperatures for safety (165), which is far higher than the termperature at which protein squeezes out all the juices (110).

                                Yet smart people here are expecting a non-dry product. What am I missing?

                                I could imagine pre-cooking the meat sous-vide at 145 and then flashing it over the grill. Given the small size of the pieces, you could pasteurize the meat to the core before it got too mushy. But if that were the case, I assume YZ wouldn't be talking about "authentic" so much, and neither would CH.

                                1. re: enhF94

                                  bump. asking about yakitori in the US.