Restaurants / Restaurant Guide

Yakitori Imai


Review excerpt: Takashi Imai's new place, Yakitori Imai, is set back from view on a quiet residential side street, it is spacious and modern, with discreet down lighting and jazz on the sound system. He has 30 seats at the long counter that runs three sides of his big open kitchen, and a bevy of black-clad waiters who move to and fro ensuring that you do not lack for food and drink.

At the outset of his career, Imai trained at Bird Land in Ginza, one of the first restaurants to elevate yakitori to a gourmet level. He follows the same model here, opening the meal with French-style chicken liver pate and pairing his skewers with craft beer and an impressive selection of natural wines (you may even find some bottles of Radikon or Philippe Bornard).

But at heart Yakitori Imai is a local restaurant, with prices to match. The basic menu, a very affordable ¥3,800, starts out with the chicken pate and a small cup of warming chicken broth. Then you get half a dozen sticks of the excellent yakitori — including Imai’s trademark isobe (rare breast meat wrapped in nori seaweed) and tsukune (minced chicken patties) — interspersed with vegetables such as daikon, carrot or onion, also grilled over charcoal. You could add a light dessert (dorayaki pancake) or a bowl of oyakodon (rice topped with a chicken omelet) and still leave with a bill for two of under ¥10,000.

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