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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yakitori in Kyoto, Japan

Everything But The Head & Feet
With only 24 hours in Japan, we decided a yakitori dinner would be the perfect traditional meal to experiment with in Kyoto. We started with a Kirin draft beer, and browsed the menu full of chicken bits on a stick. We placed an order for just about the whole chicken except the head and feet.  I am the least brave of the friends I am with, but I am willing to try it all. I suddenly got flashbacks to my first time in Tokyo 6 months ago, when I almost heaved after swallowing a whole piece of raw squid at Sushi Dai. (Reference: One Bite, No Soy Sauce...) I’m trying to be more adventurous, but for me it’s baby steps to achieving my Andrew Zimmern-strength palate. 

First, they presented to us an appetizer of pate and crackers. It was rich and delicious. Then it began. Each tiny plate with two skewers of chicken bits came out one by one to our table...

Pate and crackers.
Fried tofu with scallions. An easy start to the meal.
Skewered veggies started to arrive. This one in particular had bonito flakes on top. The dried, smoked fish flakes rapidly warped on top of the hot skewers, appearing like it was alive. 
No, this isn't a cherry tomato skewer. It's chicken ovaries! Unsure of what texture to expect, I cut one open to find a think yellow liquid oozing from inside. It tasted like the yolk of an egg, and sure enough, once we googled it we found out that essentially it is a yolk. 
BARF!  See? It's not that creepy when you think about it...
Chicken cartilage of knee. The white parts looked like fat, but they were crunchy cartilage. Naturally, I wanted to reject the boney parts but I kept on crunching like everyone else. It sounded like we were all chomping on ice cubes. The flavor was good but I could never get used to the crunch!
Chicken gizzards! Apparently this organ in the digestive track is made of muscular walls that helps to digest the food. So I guess my gizzards got to work on a piece of this chickens gizzards that night. On first bite I noticed an unwanted texture, like when biting into a nerve in a piece of meat. I enjoyed the flavor, but the texture will have to be an acquired taste for me!
Chicken tail. Eight little chicken butts were sacrificed for the sake of our yakitori dinner. Each piece of meat being sourced from the tip of the tail with just a bit of skin on the edges were skewered and served to us nice and crispy.
Some of the more conventional skewers for my culture-shocked palate. We had mushrooms, mushrooms wrapped in bacon, zucchini, and ramen.
Tea and mochi for dessert. A sweet ending.

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