The Japanese culinary canon is an immense one, with fresh sashimi, sushi, ramen and sukiyaki often taking centre stage. Yet there is one particular dish that deserves to be recognised for its elegance, even if its appearance might indicate otherwise: yakitori.
Who would have guessed that such a simple delicacy of skewered meat and vegetables would be such a fulfilling dish. While the name literally means ‘grilled chicken’, there is so much more complexity and cultural value than those two words. These skewers of grilled chicken is fundamental to many in Japan as a snack after a long day of work or even as the choice of grub for friends to hang out late into the night over a beer.
At most places, yakitori compromises of several cuts of chicken; some spots offer chicken hearts, livers, or gizzard and vegetables. These are then marinated with tare sauce — a mixture of soy sauce and rice wine, and then grilled over charcoal for that extra kick of flavour. While chicken is essential, several eateries have started plating different meat variants.
Choose to have it as an appetiser or even a couple more as a full meal, but we recommend washing it down with beer for the authentic Japanese experience.
Lavish hotel ambience but what’s on the menu is humble yakitori. Here you can find skewers of both premium chicken and beef (the restaurant is pork-free) are served alongside classic Japanese dishes. This place opens until 12am so that makes it a good hangout place after work for some yakitori and beer.
Ri Yakitori, Level 7, The Gardens Hotel & Residences, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, +603-2268 1188
Chef Yasonori Doi grills every yakitori on charcoal with the utmost care and perfection as it is the chef’s speciality. The kitchen also goes beyond skewered chicken and plates up pretty decent Japanese soul-food creations like the boiled chicken skin with ponzu sauce and the house-made bacon is something worth trying.
Yakitori Dining Fukuda, No. 39-G, Jalan 23/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +603-6206 3526
Torii is a Japanese-accented gastro-bar, dedicated to the simple pleasures
of yakitori and whiskey. They have various type of meat and seafood yakitori here but they hold one of the largest range of Japanese single malt whiskies in Kuala Lumpur. Japanese-inspired dishes are also available.
Torii, Lot 8-6, Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, +603 2011 3798 / +6019 203 7093
The Japanese owners behind this small eatery aims to bring authentic Japanese yakitori to Kuala Lumpur. Their chefs combine different parts of chicken meat on one skewer to give it texture. Alongside their yakitori menu, they also have an extensive list of comforting Japanese dishes but do check in from time to time as they change their menu every month.
Toridoki, Jalan 24/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, +603-6206 4676
Moku Grill & BBQ has one of the most extensive list of yakitoris on the menu — close to 40 items of chicken, pork, lamb, beef, vegetables and seafood. But if you’re not into the full-on yakitori dinner, they also have Japanese, Western and Italian fusion dishes.
Moku Grill & BBQ, Taipan 2 Damansara, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, +603-7859 7657