Yakitori Alley – Oishikatta!

Jul 13th, 2009 | By | 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!

Yakitori Alley Tokyo Ginza Lanterns

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 Tokyo Ginza

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.

Yakitori Alley Tokyo Ginza Tsukemono Beer

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.

Yakitori Alley Tokyo Ginza Grill

Our chicken and leeks grilled to perfection…

Yakitori Alley Tokyo Ginza Chicken Skewers

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

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8 comments
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  1. My favorite yakitori ingredient is the skin. : )

  2. hey is it true japan is havin a robot war? I heard that they put in a giant statue of a gundam robot in a park in Tokyo and in response, kobe put up a giant statue of gigantor.

    If so that’s totally awesom

  3. Loving all the articles – Whats an approx cost for the Yakatori. eaten on the street at a Yakatori bar? Is it similar to retaurant prices – Im going with 8 friends so need to know approx prices before I lead them down an alley..hee.. so to speak! thanks for all the great info Nihon sun is supplying!

  4. Debbie – I used to love chicken skin as a kid but I guess I’ve grown out of it – although if it is really crispy I could be tempted to take a bite or two :)

    Thanks for you kind words Gayle! I would budget around Y1,500 per person plus alcohol (a large beer was around Y800 if I remember correctly) but that depends on how hungry you group is 😉

    The food is served izakaya (pub) style with 3-4 pieces/skewers per plate in what I would call family style. If you order a couple of plates of each dish then everyone should get to sample a variety of the dishes. With a large group I would probably try to get there early (restaurants open at 5PM) as it can get quite busy later in the evening and it may be hard to find seating together without a wait.

    We ate surrounding the crates in the alley itself but some places have the option of sitting inside (I think the alley seating is much more fun).

  5. Thanks for the info Shane – exactly what I wanted/needed.. and Im a crate kinda girl myself..heee.

    Im loving Nihonsun because as of this October I will have visited Japan 13 times and of course being Japan there are so many many great things to do that Im still nowhere touching the surface.. a yakatori bar expereience is just what is needed this trip I think..heee.. but this sort of everyday thing can be so time consuming when you dont have the right info.. and therefore often gets put on the want to but next time list… In your article you nailed everthing I need including the map to make it just dinner one night but with a big tick box next to it.. Thank you!

  6. You are very welcome Gayle – do let us know what you thought of the experience when you get back and enjoy your time in Japan :)

  7. Will do – Im taking a group at the end of Oct – for the autumn leaves. – will report back on our Yakitori adventure – thanks again Shane

  8. Great info Shane. What is the name of the specific yakitori place you dined in? Do they have english menus? I’ve heard many horror stories of Japanese vendors rudely turning away people that don’t speak the language. Thanks so much.

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