Yakitori Alley – Oishikatta!Jul 13th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Food, Tokyo and Vicinity
Dining in a lantern lit alleyway that lies humbly within walking distance of Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza stores and neon lights is sure to have you saying “Oishikatta!” – that was delicious!
As you enter Yakitori Alley you will be met with a chorus of irishaimase (welcome) from the staff of the many closet sized restaurants that line the u-shaped alleyway, the tempting aroma of grilled meat and the festive sounds of patrons relaxing and enjoying the themselves with their friends after a long day at the office or out on the town.
Yakitori Alley, named after the grilled chicken skewers that are the specialty of the alleyway’s restaurants, offers an atmosphere that is casual and fun. The restaurants are so small that most patrons dine in the alley itself on rickety stools that sit alongside small tables made from empty Kirin beer crates.
Perch yourself on a stool and order a cold beer to enjoy while you peruse the menu. Many of the establishments have very basic English menus and staff, that while not quite bilingual, can help you place your order. Cold beer, edamame and a complimentary dish cucumber tsukemono (pickles) were a pleasant way to relax and cool down on a recent muggy evening in the city.
While we waited the grilling began in a tiny kitchen right behind us. Yaktori and other skewered foods are cooked over charcoal on a special grill that is a common sight at festivals and restaurants throughout Japan. Long and narrow, the skewers are rested on a ledge so that only the food is in contact with the heat. The cook places the food on one end of the grill and slowly rolls it towards the other end until it is done.
Our chicken and leeks grilled to perfection…
Pork, sausages, meatballs and other tasty grilled treats are also on the menu but we steered clear of the liver, heart, skin and gizzards that some nearby diners were enjoying.
The setting may be humble and so is the food but it’s a great place to spend an evening with friends in Tokyo that will have you saying Oishikatta!
To get to Yakitori Alley take the train to either the Yurakucho or Ginza Stations and walk for a few minutes. The alley is located beneath the Yurakucho Mallion alongside the JR Line on this map of Ginza.
Photo Credit: Personal Collection