*Obviously this post is about meat consumption.
I’m a pretty adventurous eater. And while there are a lot of things I have on my list that would still like to try, there are some things I will not absolutely eat because of bad association with a childhood memory. Like liverwurst. I will not touch that stuff. I think the taste is disgusting, the color is unappealing and mustard just makes it worse. On the other hand, I love chicken gizzard. I have fond memories of fighting over fried chicken gizzard with my brother. (We were not feral children, BTW.) Of course, I didn’t know what it was back then. So when I saw that Yakitori Yakudori in Hillcrest has it on their menu, I thought I might have to have chicken gizzards again– I haven’t had it in decades– and see if I still have the same opinions about it back then.
Yakitori Yakudori is a tiny restaurant restaurant located on 6th Avenue near the heart of Hillcrest. Parking is extremely tight around the area. And with the hours of 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. as well as the reviews on Yelp, this place is very popular with the late night bingers. And it makes sense, the restaurant specializes in Japanese-style yakitori — grilled bite-sized pieces of food — a very popular pairing with beer and sake.
Combos are available as well as individual skewers ranging in prices between $3-$7. The whole idea is to order a few items, consider how full you are and order more if necessary. The waiters are very attentive clearing away tables and checking up on the guests. With the banging plates and sound bouncing off the walls, it’s not a place for intimate conversation. Seating is also available near the grill so you can see all the action as it happens.
The menu is pretty daunting but with the both the popular items for American vs. the Japanese customers, it helped us guide our choices in what to order. Having Paul with me, I had to play it relatively safe. We started off with grilled garlic and gyoza.
The chicken-filled gyoza were pretty standard — deep fried until crisp and accompanied with a bit of dipping sauce. An order of gyoza is six pieces. I did think the skewered garlic had been on the grill a tad too long as it was slightly charred with some bitterness but it did have a nice saltiness to them. I recommend eating them quickly– the garlic goes cold fast.
That night, everyone around me seemed to have ordered the bacon-wrapped asparagus and even non-fans of asparagus like Paul (he enjoyed it). The blanched asparagus had no other seasoning except for bacon — truly, a perfect accompaniment. I could have eaten those all night. Four skewered pieces is $4.
On the other end of the spectrum was the shitaki cheese shewers. The mushrooms could have been helped out with some type of marinade before grilling. Despite the cheese, the whole thing was dry and I thought a tad pricey for $4 making it four mushrooms for a buck each.
All of the above was really a warm up for the chicken gizzards — number 3 on the list of popular Japanese items. They were plainly seasoned with salt and perfectly cooked. The knife work on the gizzards was nice that Paul didn’t know what they were when it arrived at the table and he even had one. But the texture didn’t agree with him as for me, one bite had me rushing back to my youth. I didn’t mind that I had to eat the rest of the chicken gizzards.
Other items to try on the menu are the beef (very tender) and chicken wings. For the truly adventurous eater, there is beef tongue steak and boiled chicken skin just to name a couple. I recommend nibbling on the chopped cabbage provided at the start to clear the palate inbetween skewers. The total tab can run high especially if you order skewers a la carte. Our total hovered around $40 for the both of us. Overall a nice experience, but I think it will take a while for me to order fried chicken leg cartilage.