Yakitori – chicken on a skewer. You take some chicken, and stick it on a skewer. Too easy, right? Well, yes, but there’s yakitori, and then there’s Kinboshi.
Kinboshi’s method of doing yakitori so well is shrouded in secrecy. It’s kind of like KFC with the Colonel’s seven-secret-herbs-and-spices recipe, only Kinboshi actually tastes rather good. It’s all in the application of the salt, and there’s no cooking with gas done here – each stick of grilled goodness is cooked over sizzling hot bincho coals. We lined up along the counter at their branch in Fushimi, and were promptly presented with a full fresh cabbage and dipping sauce (the perfect culinary companion to chicken on a stick, in my honest opinion).
The newer Fushimi restaurant has counter, table and party-room seating, but the two original shops in Imaike and Shin-Sakae are considerably smaller and older (though the Imaike branch has renovated the counter area in the last few months). The menu isn’t extensive, but has some extremely mouthwatering selections you would be hard-pressed to find in other yakitori establishments. Besides the chicken, which comes in tsukune (minced chicken balls), tebasaki (grilled chicken wings) and various forms of innards, there’s also lamb (which is a definite must-try), beef, and even uzura – tiny little quail eggs. Our personal favourite was the yaki-tomato, grilled till the juices run and topped with a squeeze of yuzu sauce, cubes of bacon threaded on the skewer between each baby tomato. Delish.
But we noticed that something was missing: smoke. The skewers are grilling, not burning, thanks to the bincho coals which ensure your chicken tastes like that and nothing else.
Sitting at the counter is also a good way to observe the unusual salting technique of the chef, who ensures that only the perfect pinch is sprinkled onto the grill. Everything is reasonably priced, with a few ‘gourmet’ selections, and the drink menu includes your usual beer, sake and shouchu selection, plus a wine list.
All the staff are friendly and helpful, so if you’re not overly confident about your selections, they will be more than happy to push you in the right direction to skewered chicken heaven.
All of their locations are quite popular so reservations are advised, especially on weekends.
You can find Fushimi Kinboshi in the Dia Palace Building on the road past Doutor Coffee on Hirokoji-dori from Fushimi Station, exit 5. It is Closed Sundays Tel: (052)201-5531.
The Imaike shop is along Hirokoji in the direction of Ikeshita – come out of exit 7 Imaike Station. It is closed Wednesdays. Tel: (052)732-5421).
The Shin-Sakae branch is, surprise surprise, on Hirokoji, not far from CBC and along the Hirokoji-Aoi intersection. It is Closed Sundays. Tel: (052) 251-1203.
All branches are open from 17:30 till 23:00, and accept Visa and Mastercard.
On the web: www.kinboshi.net/html/englishtop.html