Tokyo is loaded with yakitori restaurants, most notably in Yakitori Alley near Shinjuku Station where the smoke-filled, sake and beer-stained holes-in-the-wall rumble with each passing train. Make your way to upscale Roppongi Hills, though, and you'll find an altogether different yakitori experience.
Hachibei serves Hakata-style yakitori in a classy setting. Yakitori literally means grilled chicken, with any and all parts of the bird served up on skewers. That's delicious, but you'll find relatively little offal at Hachibei, and a lot more than chicken, as Hakata-style means variety on the skewer—with different flavoring as well.
Spritzing with high-quality sake and sprinkling with salt is what sets Hachibei's yakitori apart from the outset. In addition to chicken, you'll find items like pork belly, pig's foot, beef tongue, and a variety of vegetables slipped on skewers and ready for high-heat charcoal grilling. The menu also includes appetizers, sashimi (including basashi—horse meat from Kyushu), boiled dishes, rice and noodles, and a specialty dessert.
Chef/owner Katsunori Yashima is the son of a butcher. Growing up in a small town in Kyushu, he quickly learned about meat and how to cook it. While many think of yakitori as lower-class food, Yashima seeks to elevate the cuisine, and has proudly expanded the Hachibei family of restaurants from Hakata and Fukuoka on Kyushu to Tokyo. He's actually considered a pioneer in pairing yakitori with wine, and you'll find a formidable wine cellar in the Roppongi Hills restaurant.
For more of the fiery fun, click through to the photos in the slideshow.
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