Yardbird: Yakitori Born from Binchotan
Hi everyone! Welcome back and thanks for reading. I am really excited to talk about Yardbird because their chicken wings changed my life (as you understand shortly). I came here a few years ago with my uncle and cousins when I was pre-epicurean. But, even at that dweeb status, these wings were able to unlock my true feelings toward eating great meals and guide my taste buds to pursue a higher calling. Yardbird is a Yakitori venue serving skewered meats and is located in SoHo in Hong Kong. This is basically where ALL the expats live and hangout. As such, prices are a bit more expensive but the vibe is a lot trendier. I highly recommend Yardbird as a stop for all that visit Hong Kong.
During my first visit, we sat at the bar on the ground level then ordered a ton of sake and different types of Yakitori. For my second visit, I went with Steph and my parents. Again, another solid experience. They had temporarily lost their liquor license so we had to buy beers from a place next door called the Bottle Shop, where we drank a good amount of KAIJU! Metamorphosis IPA beer from Australia. Living in the states, it's a bit harder to get a good variety of Australian or New Zealand beers at the usual bars.
Address: 154-158 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Chicken Gizzard Yakitori with Olive Oil and Garlic
Chicken Oyster Yakitori with Sea Salt and Lemon
Soft Chicken Bone Yakitori
Chicken Thigh Yakitori with Welsh Onion and Tare
Chicken Wings Yakitori with Sea Salt and Shichimi
Korean Fried Cauliflower with Yuzu and Chili
Sweet Corn Tempura with Sea Salt and Pepper
Anyways, let's get started on the food. I'll talk about a few appetizers then some of the yakitori that we ordered. Above, you will notice the majestic Korean Fried Cauliflower (a.k.a. KFC). The aroma of this dish left me awestruck. It's got that spicy-yet-sweet scent, kind of addicting like a sweet gochujang. It was great. The cauliflower was coated with a crispy layer of fried gloriousness and topped with some yuzu and chili.
The next appetizer was a crowd favorite for sure. Steph was surely obsessed with this one. It was a Sweet Corn Tempura ball (see above). It is made purely out of sweet corn covered in fried tempura batter. It doesn't taste oily and it tastes just like fried, crispy sweet corn. It's the best. It was simply seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I don't think it needed anything else!
For our yakitori, we got a bunch of different ones. You can order almost every part of the chicken here. We went with some of the house specialties before they ran out. PRO TIP: Yardbird does run out of some of their skewers quite early into the night. I suggest asking the waiters for what is popular and order a few plates of it while you can. For some of the most popular skewers, just keep reading to find out which ones those are :)
We started with some Chicken Gizzard. A gizzard is part of the digestive tract of the chicken that helps grind up their food. Gizzard is low in fat and has a lot of protein, however, it does have a TON of cholesterol so you should watch out. They are usually dark, meaty, and a little crunchy. Gizzard is rich and savory, which makes for the perfect bar food and drink accompaniment. Yardbird seasoned their gizzards with olive oil and garlic.
We also got the Soft Chicken Bone Yakitori (see above). You guys know that little bit of cartilage at the ends of your wings? Who else likes to eat that part? I sure do. If you do too, you'll like soft bone. Oh man, it is fantastic. It's not as rich as gizzard but it's packed with flavor and has a great texture to it. I highly recommend getting at least an order of these.
Next, we got the Chicken Oysters (see above). If you're looking for a place in NYC that serves good Chicken oysters, check out our review on Torishin. Anyway, what is a Chicken Oyster?? No, it's not a chicken that lives underwater as a bivalve mollusca. Also known as Sot l'y Laisse, which translates to "the fool leaves it there" because inexperienced carvers often miss this part. The chicken oysters come from two small, round pieces of dark meat near the thigh and towards the back of the chicken.
Chicken Oysters are often considered the most flavorful part of the bird. Sometimes, you even get a little bit of cartilage in the middle of the oyster. They're fabulous. You need to go try these! Yardbird seasoned theirs with sea salt and lemon. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, right?
I know what you're thinking. This guy is eating at a yakitori place and hasn't mentioned the chicken wings! Fear not. I'm just getting started. Yardbird's chicken wings (the first picture of this post) changed my life as I've mentioned before. I don't know how to cook but when I do learn how to cook I'm going to learn how to perfect three things: Panna Cotta, Truffle Pasta, and Chicken Wings. That's a promise!
Hopefully I can write a post or two on the recipes after I finalize them. Anyway, these chicken wings are godlike. They come out scalding hot after grilling on binchotan, a type of charcoal that prevents the meat from drying out while also making the meat crispy on the outside. The charcoal emits infrared rays and burns at a lower temperature which reduces smoke/odors and makes the charcoal burn cleaner and longer. It's basically the best charcoal you could ever use.
For my second visit, the wings were lacking in the little bits of cartilage at the ends of the wing, which I don't recall to be the case during my first visit. I hope they bring these back! I'm not sure why they were cut off and removed. That's like the 2nd best part of the wing! Anyway, the wings were seasoned with sea salt, shichimi, and lemon juice. It's the best.