Nowadays yakitori, bite-sized Japanese food (usually chicken) on a stick and seared, is as well known abroad as ramen.
Japanese restaurant Kinton is a familiar sight to Canadians who are not only curious about Japanese food, but also wanting to break into it. Kinton opened a new restaurant of that sells yakitori on their second floor called Kintori.
Even though price of yakitori depends on the restaurants, a yakitori place’s atmosphere is usually quiet and kind of expensive. It’s just the image and experience most Japanese people know of this style of restaurant. When I entered Kintori, I felt like I was in an izakaya as most serve yakitori.
During this review, I sampled a number of yakitori skewers at the restaurant and here are some of my thoughts.
Hokkaido Scallop $3.50: The taste is very buttery, but mild. Even though the butter seems to overwhelm the skewer, its taste isn’t too strong and keeps its seafood base. Butter and scallop are pretty good combination. When Japanese have no idea how to make a meal better, they tend to use butter in their cooking with a soy sauce. It’s a very Japanese taste actually.
Black tiger prawn with garlic butter $2.80: The shrimp texture is pretty strong meaning its fresh, but also tender. Think, soft, but not too soft. This texture is called “Puripuri”. When Japanese people say this word, they equate the good taste and with the freshness of the ingredients.
Cubed beef tongue $4.50: The meat was very “Korikori” meaning it had a good, chewy texture. Putting on a sprinkle of salt and lemon is also an extremely good combination. It was served medium as if eating stake. I reckon this is a good prelude to normal Yakitori, which are put into a special sauce when served. Even though price is kind of expensive, you feel satisfied after eating.
Below, I will introduce the yakiroti on the menus’ Chef’s selection 7 pieces $14.80: It comes with mono, sunagimo, sasami w. mentai-mayo, tsukune, eringi, negi shio gyu, ton toro.
Tsukune, seen left, is like a little meatball and it has a sweet taste. It’s usually made or pork or beef. It’s a little crispy on the outside. It depends on where you go, but you can usually get tsukune in a hotpot, which takes away its bitter taste. Outside is crispy, besides inside is soft texture. It has a juicy that lasted and it tasted better the longer you chew.
Momo chicken thigh, seen middle, is a typical cut for Yakitori. You can taste a little bit the burnt flavour that has a most Yakitori. But, it’s not burnt like a piece of toast, but rather made to be crispy and juicy at same time. Of course, although whether taste is decided good or not by depending on what bland of chicken used, Yakitori sauce is more important thing to make Yakitori even better taste than chasing shops. Because, Yakitori is very simple meal that is just cutting chicken and burned and then put on sauce, so Yakitori sauce could test chef on their ability to make it.
Eringi, seen right, has a strong taste, considering that it is a mushroom. Nigami refers to a bitter taste in Japanese cooking that’s different from dark chocolate. I think the taste is also found in bitter taste of cheese. If you’re suffering from a little plate fright over the mushroom’s texture, don’t fear you should think about it is medicine.
The green onion of Negi shio gyu, seen left, makes for a good accent to this piece. The salty taste and green onion is a typical kind of combination. The meat texture can be a little tough. I prefer a softer and more rare taste. It tasted a little overcooked.
Ton toro, seen left of middle, has a salty taste. Ton toro is a popular choice for Korean and Japanese barbecue. It has almost the same taste as in Japan, but it could use a little lemon to compliment the salty taste. Besides, you can taste Karikari describes a hard texture on food that comes from the cooking process. It’s burnt on the outside, but juicy on the inside. It has the same texture as pork fat on the inside, but it’s not too oily on the inside.
Sasami W. mentai-mayo, seen right of middle, has a good taste, but a unique one. The mayonnaise taste is a little weak with the chicken overpowering in it. In my opinion, they should try to have a much stronger mayo taste since the dish is called Mentai-Mayo. Mayonnaise can make food more delicious because of how it combines with other tastes. It also has a unique taste.
Sunagimo, chicken gizzard, seen right, is usually a bit bigger. It has a salty taste and tough texture. I prefer the gizzard because I want to enjoy the salty taste, though most people enjoy the softest chicken thigh. It has a similar texture to ton toro, but a different taste.
In Japan, yakitori is usually cheaper than what you find here in Toronto. It depends on the restaurant and the cost of the ingredients like chicken and beef, so sometimes high cost cannot be helped.
By the way, yakitori is also a good fit with drinking beer. In Japan, we usually we eat it with beer, so when I ate it in this restaurant, though I thought that shouldn’t order beer (I had to write this review), I drank a beer with my yakitori.
Yakitori is a very simple kind of cooking, but it can have a complicated taste and I’d even say that it can have a profound taste. For instance, how long do you cook it? How much sauce do you use? How burnt is too burnt? I reckon it’s the question all Yakitori cooks ask themselves.
When Japanese eat out in Izakaya and Yakitori restaurants, we usually go to ramen shop afterwards. That is why, I suppose, that Kinton aims customer to eat Kinton ramen after eating Yakitori and other menus with beer and some alcohol.
As Kintori’s Yakitori is close to the real Japanese taste, I recommend everyone who wants to try Yakitori at least once, go to this restaurant and experience the Japanese style feast that is eating ramen afterwards.