The 7 Best Places in Tokyo to Try Yakitori

Chicken breast yakitori topped with nori, mayo and cod roe
Chicken breast yakitori topped with nori, mayo and cod roe | © Ocdp / WikiCommons
Alicia Joy

Tokyo Writer

Yakitori is a staple in the Japanese bar and izakaya scene. These tasty chicken skewers come in countless varieties and use every possible source of edibles from the bird. Try the best yakitori Tokyo has to offer at one of these winning restaurants.

1. Tokoshima

Restaurant, Japanese, French

The chef at Tokoshima turns this historically low-class snack food into an art form. Using chickens hatched from French eggs (but raised locally on a farm in Ibaraki prefecture), Chef Tokoshima curates a menu of around 20 varieties of yakitori. Patrons will find the most palatable parts of the birds, such as the breast and thigh, to the most unusual. Tokoshima is near Sangenjaya Station in Setagaya ward.

2. Toritama Honkan

Restaurant, Japanese

Toritama Honkan has one of the most extensive yakitori menus in Tokyo. This restaurant was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand, which recognizes delicious, high-quality eats at inexpensive restaurants. Toritama was such a hit in its home city that it’s expanded into Hong Kong and Singapore. Located in central Tokyo by Hiroo station.

3. Yamamoto

Restaurant, Japanese

Yamamoto is a crowd-pleaser. This basement restaurant in Nakacho, Musashino is excellent for newcomers to the world of yakitori, offering mixed sets for around 1,400 yen or 200 for a single skewer. They’re also known for their oyakodon (“parent and child rice,” a dish of cooked chicken and egg over rice); it’s a great filler if the yakitori aren’t hitting the spot.

4. Yakitori Imai

Restaurant, Japanese

Fitting perfectly into the classy Aoyama neighborhood is Yakitori Imai, a restaurant that will satisfy your street food cravings but while seated in comfortable, stylish surroundings. Grab a seat at the counter, and then order the multi-course dinner set (4,500 yen), sit back and enjoy. Reservations are recommended; they can be made in advance in English through their website. Yakitori Imai sits near Gaienmae station.

5. Yakitori Ogawa

Bar, Diner, Restaurant, Japanese

Yakitori Ogawa lies in the Arakicho neighborhood by Yotsuya-sanchome station, an area known for its many small eateries and bars. It’s an area also known for its exclusivity and old guard mentality, and in many places, newcomers are still not welcome without an invitation. But you won’t have to worry about that with newcomers like Yakitori Ogawa. This pricey yakitori joint’s 10-course dinner menu (5,000 yen) is one of their best-selling options.

6. Takahashi

Restaurant, Wine Bar, Japanese, French

Takahashi is a yakitori restaurant opened by the former French chef, Yuji Takahashi, who brought his worldly experience with him to this restaurant, concocting French-Japanese fusion flavors paired with a French wine list. With seating for just 15, reservations are a must. Find Takahashi by Gotanda station in Shinagawa ward.

7. Yakitori-ya Smile

Restaurant, Japanese

Yakitori-ya Smile makes ordering yakitori fun and easy, by the use of an electronic ordering system. Diners are given tablets to order whatever they like; with pictures included, there are no surprises when the food arrives. It’s an ideal option for families who might be put off by the crowded, smoky environment of a traditional yakitori joint.

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