Yakitori is one of those “regular” types of foods the (formerly) picky eater in me wanted to try when I arrived in Japan. After grabbing 3 different flights and making it halfway around the world from Kingston to Tokyo I met up with a Jamaican friend Dave and his Japanese friend in Yokohama super tired but still in disbelief that I was finally in Japan. Dave suggested that we have dinner at a Izakaya, which is a Japanese style pub serving food and drinks for groups of people unwinding after work or celebrating an event like we were in the case – my long awaited arrival in Japan.
Being a fellow Jamaican Dave shared some of his own personal experiences when he arrived in Japan many years ago and went through that transitional period where he had to get used to the food in a country very different from his own. One of the first Japanese dishes he loved was Yakitori which is basically Japanese-style grilled chicken on sticks. This was before I embraced pork in the later stages of my visit when I tried ramen. We ordered up many pieces of Yakitori which included just about every edible part of a chicken such as; chicken gizzard, wing, heart, cartilage, tail, skin, liver etc. Each skewer mostly had one type of chicken meat and were seasoned differently with onions, soy sauce, mushrooms, salt, pepper and more.
Add in some drinks, side dishes, lively chatter and a positive vibe and my first night and first meal in Japan was quite memorable. We made our way to my Yokohama home base where I passed out with a stomach full of yakitori, a smile of my face, aching shoulders and a personal goal accomplished.
I took advantage of every opportunity I got during my 3 week stay in Japan to eat yakitori and I thoroughly enjoyed the nights I could dine out and experience excellent customer service in Japanese restaurants. I soon got used to life in Japan so when it was time to go home I knew my Yakitori addiction had to be brought under control. Barbecued Eel may have been quite the challenge to eat and although it turned out wonderfully in the end my Yakitori exploits are easily the highlight of my gastronomical adventures in Japan.