Unsurprisingly, Tokyo is home to some of the world’s best yakitori restaurants. Whether you’re after a refined experience or something more down-to-earth, you’re sure to find it in Tokyo. These are a few yakitori places you should check out.
Meat-stuffed shiitake mushrooms on a skewer. Tasty! - image © Florentyna Leow
If you eat meat, it’s hard to argue with skewered, charcoal-grilled chicken. In Japan, this is known as yakitori. The chicken is grilled with either a soy-based tare sauce or salt. Yakitori can be as cheap and cheerful as you please, making a fantastic accompaniment to alcoholic drinks of all sorts. On the other hand, yakitori can be elevated to a veritable art form, given the kind of attention to detail you find in rarefied French restaurants to make the best chicken you’ve ever tasted in your life.
Something that distinguishes Japanese yakitori is the sheer variety of chicken parts available. Eating just thigh and breast is passe; if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try neck meat (seseri), reba (liver), sunazuri (gizzard), tsukune (meatball), or nankotsu (cartilage)?
Unsurprisingly, Tokyo is home to some of the world’s best yakitori restaurants. Whether you’re after a refined experience or something more down-to-earth, you’re sure to find it in this city. These are a few yakitori places you should check out.
- Kushikwakamaru (Nakameguro; mid-range)
Kushiwakamaru serves affordable grilled skewers at a lively neighborhood restaurant in Nakameguro. Popular with the locals, this is a good option for a no-frills meal with friends.
- Bird Land (Marunouchi; expensive)
Renowned Michelin-starred yakitori restaurant Bird Land in Ginza might be intimidating for some - but the Marunouchi branch is far more accessible and relaxed, and you’ll get the same amazing ingredients and service, too.
- Yakitori Tetsu (Shibuya; budget)
Tetsu is a cheap and cheerful yakitori restaurant right by Shibuya Station. Just stick to drinks and grilled skewers - avoid everything else on the menu.
- Morimoto (Shibuya; budget to mid-range)
For an old-school yakitori experience in the heart of Tokyo, eat some grilled chicken with the regulars at Shibuya’s Morimoto.
- Toritama (Shinjuku; expensive)
For the finest in cockscomb-to-tail chicken eating, Toritama is one of the best. The Shinjuku branch is an outpost of their original Shirokane restaurant. It’s almost as good, and as a bonus, is way more English-friendly.
- Imai (Harajuku; mid-range to expensive)
Think yakitori has to be cheap and cheerful? Think again. With its refined cooking and stylish surroundings, Imai in Harajuku proves that chicken skewers can be gourmet fare.
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Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare airline flight prices and timings for the best Japan flight deals.
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Tokyo much easier - here's how
- Get esssential travel insurance for Tokyo – World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)