Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sundays with Sparky - Yakitori in Manhattan

A while back, we all went to visit Sparky's uncle in Manhattan.  When we're on vacation, we make an effort to eat outside our comfort zone, because I think learning the different ways people eat is just as important as learning to cook.  While Chicago has a sizable Japanese population and good sushi and plenty of Japanese comfort food, unfortunately we don't have many Yakitori bars here.  Yakitori are basically Japanese shish kebabs or brochettes usually of chicken parts - often giblets and other offal.  They are usually eaten with beer, much like American Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Sparky had seen Yakitori on a travel show, and was excited about it to the point that he was ready to hop a plane to Tokyo.  Fortunately, my brother's favorite place was right around the corner from where we were staying, so we headed there for dinner.  Sparky immediately ordered a bacon-wrapped quail egg and a chicken skin skewer, and liked them so much that he wouldn't share and we had to order our own.  The rest of us were a little bit less proprietary with our skewers, and so we were able to try quite a variety:
Quail egg and chicken skin

Chicken hearts, chicken cartilage, shishito peppers straight-up

Chicken gizzard, scallop

All were fairly plain, lightly seasoned and grilled quickly with very high heat - and we liked this approach. A lot.We also got to try their special "maki," I forget what it's called, but it's a tube shape of takoyaki (an octopus pancake - which I quite liked, it was a bit starchy, but with tender chunks of octopus) buried in tempura crumbles topped with spicy mayo.  Hidden inside the tempura crumbles is a "prize" that Sparky found - a tiny, candied crab.  He pounced on it and  pronounced it good.
Having a child who will eat his vegetables - good.  Having a child who willingly digs through a pile of food he's never tried before to taste a food he's never tried before - priceless.  

We finished our meal with of shiso (a green vegetable related to mint) onigiri and green beans with really teeney anchovies - delicious.  

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