For lunch today, a friend and I went out to have what we have affectionately termed “stick food“. We used to hit up a place that was closer to work, but early last year, they cut out their lunch hours and are currently only open for dinner. Today we decided to try one a little further away, but still fairly close to work. The restaurant we decided to try is part of the 新選組 (Shin-Sen-Gumi) group of restaurants – yes, the term refers to samurai era police enforcement; but this is the name the restaurant group uses. I have been to their Shabu-Shabu as well as their Hakata Ramen restaurants; good eats. Today we hit up their Yakitori restaurant.

Stick Food Chef

Sure it looks easy enough, one can probably just pick up the same ingredients, and attempt to replicate the style of food at home; but it’s not as easy as it looks. The place uses a real charcoal/wood grill.

Excerpt from the Shin-Sen-Gumi page:

When you cook with the heat too high you burn the outside while the inside remains uncooked. When you cook with the heat too low, the food keeps it’s raw odor. When you use a charcoaled wood, the intensity of the heat can easily be controlled with the use of a hand fan, and cooking the food can be kept at a constant temperature giving the food a delicious taste while avoiding the raw odor. The ash on the burning charcoaled wood radiates infrared rays that are used for cooking. The infrared rays cook through the food, cooking the inside and outside evenly, thus sealing in the flavor.

The term yakitori means grill chicken, so generally, these places are for eating chicken and all parts of the chicken. Hearts, gizzards, balls made from ground chicken meat, thighs, livers, skin, etc. Anything and everything edible off a chicken is used. These pictures were taken with my camera phone so the quality isn’t the greatest in the world.

Chicken Gizzards

Chicken Balls and Hearts
Chicken Balls and Hearts

There are other foods other than the various parts of a chicken. They have sea food items such as grilled mackerel, giant prawns, pork products, etc. We picked up sticks of pork belly wrapped mushrooms and bacon wrapped quail eggs.

Bacon wrapped mushrooms and quail eggs
mushrooms and quail eggs

Eating a lot can get a bit expensive – but it is fairly difficult replicating the tastes of the wood grilled meats with the sauces they use. It won’t stop me from trying again and again, as the various ingredients for making your standard yakitori meal is fairly cheap; I just need to find a decent source for charcoaled wood. And I’ll probably end up doing a stick food night at the house some day…

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