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.
Kushiwakamaru - image © Florentyna Leow
Kushiwakamaru is a beloved yakitori institution in Nakameguro, popular with Japanese locals as well as the Tokyo expat community. There’s an English menu available if you ask. The service is prompt and the drinks are cheap, which makes for a fun, rambunctious night out.
Most items on the menu range from good to great. It’s honest, hearty fare; everything is infused with salt, smoke, and charcoal. In terms of chicken, you’ll want to try the tsukune (meatball) and seseri (chicken neck). The vegetables are decent to good, especially the meaty shiitake mushrooms. Leave some room for rice balls or ochazuke (tea rice) to end your meal.
A must-order is the ‘chizu-pi,’ a skewer of cheese-stuffed green pepper wrapped in pork. On arrival, the cheese is tongue-blisteringly molten; but let it sit too long and it’ll cool down, congealing into dairy plasticity. Eat when the cheese is still melted. It’s perfect then.
Reservations for Kushiwakamaru are not entirely necessary. If you choose to just show up, though, reckon on some waiting time, particularly at peak dining hours.
Kushiwakamaru allows smoking inside, which may be off-putting for some diners. But it adds to the old-school atmosphere, and if the smoke doesn’t bother you much, it’s the ideal neighborhood yakitori joint.
1-19-2 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-0051
Train: 3-minute walk from Naka-meguro Station on the Tokyu Toyoko line and Tokyo Metro Hibiya line.
Official website (Japanese and English)
:: Read customer reviews of Kushiwakamaru on TripAdvisor.
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