yakitori 焼き鳥 – grilled chicken skewers made with bite-size pieces of meat that come from all parts of the chicken.

The preparation of Yakitori involves skewering the meat and grilling it over a charcoal fire. During and/or after cooking, the meat is typically seasoned with tare sauce or salt.


Yakitori first appeared in the middle of the 17th century, despite the fact that chickens were fairly scarce in Japan during the Edo period (1603-1867). Pheasant, quail, and pigeon were often used instead of chicken as Buddhism essentially prohibited the consumption of chicken and beef during this time. During the Meiji Era (1868-1912), chickens were bred in larger numbers and yakitori stalls started to pop up.


During WWII (1939-1945), food in Japan was highly regulated; therefore, yakitori stalls had to open on the black market. The meat used was predominantly beef and pork, but the skewers used a sweet sauce made from a soy sauce substitute and artificial sweetener (thought to be the origin of tare sauce). Until the end of WWII and a stable supply of chicken was established, yakitori remained a delicacy. The eventual commercialization of poultry farming led to cheaper supplies of chicken and made yakitori a commonly eaten food.


Today, Yakitoriyas are fixtures in Japan where salarymen frequent after work for a quick snack and drink. All parts of the chicken are prepared and skewered, including the liver, thigh, neck, skin, heart, cartilage, and tail. They are grilled over binchotan charcoal, which burns slowly and clean, giving the chicken a smoky flavor without emitting high volumes of smoke. Yakitori skewers are minimally seasoned with salt or tare and typically accompanied by beer or Whisky highballs.

6 thoughts on “Beak to Tail Dining: Yakitori

  1. […] Love Japanese food? Ramen has had it’s moment, but we think yakitori is next. Read more here. […]

  2. […] Yardbird, we focus on yakitori: grilled skewers made with bite-size pieces of meat that come from all parts of the chicken. From […]

  3. […] different parts of a chicken. Made to order and cooked over binchotan charcoal, Yardbird’s yakitori ranges from neck to tail and everything in […]

  4. […] and detail are time-honored qualities in Japanese culture and yakitori is no exception.  Although grilled chicken is a seemingly simple concept, the proper techniques […]

  5. […] the Yardbird Team, created exclusively for Taste of Hong Kong 2018! While Yardbird is known for its yakitori, Roti Tori is all about rotisserie chicken. Fresh, local birds roasted to perfection in a […]

  6. […] is the first comprehensive book about yakitori to be published in English, but it’s not only about chicken and charcoal. Our book is a […]

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.