5 Top Yakitori Shops in Shinjuku – Japanese Style Grilled Chicken

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Yakitori does not only refer to grilled chicken on a stick in Japan. The term also refers to any charcoal-grilled meat put on a stick. In the strict sense, yakitori refers only to chicken meat and it should be Kushiyaki for the broader class of Japanese meat skewers. But since the locals use the terms interchangeably, we followed their lead when we were in Tokyo.

 

Finding the Best Yakitori Skewer Places in Shinjuku

So my girlfriend and I wanted to get an authentic taste of Japanese chicken skewers, aka Yakitori and we did find some amazing restaurants serving delicious treats. But it’s not only chicken skewers that we found but a whole host of Japanese meat skewers. Having already tried the tasty Yakitori in Shibuya we were dying to try what’s next. Seeing the vibrant nightlife of Shinjuku, we cannot help but skip from one yakitori stand to another and here are the top 5 yakitori shops we’ve been to.

1. Torimitsu

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In the Kabukicho area, Torimitsu is considered to be a hidden gem for those who like Japanese meat skewers. It was only a small yakitori joint within the Toho Cinemas area. Needless to say, it’s a perfect place to grab a snack or drink after watching a movie.

When we heard about it and tried to search, we had a little bit of difficulty because of its location. However, it definitely was worth it for the fresh quality yakitori we were served. My girlfriend and I will return here because a couple of things we wanted to order were already sold out.

2. Tori Tamura Honten

top,yakitori,shops,shinjuku

In our yakitori escapade, my girlfriend and I found Tori Tamura Honten, quite the chicken specialist in the city. This popular place has branches in other parts of Tokyo also.

The restaurant offers not only yakitori but other chicken delicacies such as chicken salad, torisashi, chicken stew and if you so please, a 6 course chicken grill menu. However, we didn’t feel overloaded with chicken since they also have nice fresh variety of vegetable side dishes. This is certainly one of the more cheap and affordable yakitori shops around Shinjuku.

3. Kabuto

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Kabuto is a yakitori shop founded in 1948 in the Omoide Yokocho alley of Shinjuku. Reservations are not accepted but it’s nearby Shinjuku Station so if you’re in the area, do check it out. The place offers not only delicious yakitori but is also well known for its Unagi or freshwater eel.

While the eel sticks look charred on the outside, the taste was delicious so we weren’t surprised at its many patrons. When there, we were definitely amazed at the amount of alcohol the locals drank with their yakitori.

4. Shinjuku Imaiya Honten

top,yakitori,shops,shinjuku

We wanted to taste Japan’s best chickens and Imaiya Honten is where we found one. It’s called the Hinai chicken and is one of the country’s best chicken breeds. Since Hinai chicken is quite a premium offering, dining at the restaurant was a bit pricey. However, since we didn’t have to fight for space and felt completely comfortable, this is definitely an impressive restaurant for us.

It’s just an 8 minute walk from the JR Shinjuku Station South East Entrance. What’s nice is that an English menu is provided, with photos and they have a wide selection of shochu and sake.

5. Torihana

top,yakitori,shops,shinjuku

What we found amazing at Torihana was that their chef was quite popular for his sophisticated ways of preparing yakitori. His creations are considered one of the best in that area and when we experienced a taste of their specialties like torikawa (chicken skin), seseri (chicken neck) and tebasaki (chicken wing), we instantly knew why they were known as the masters of grilling.

This is one of the smaller shops in Shinjuku that only seats 8-9, so get there early as there’s no reservations taken. You can order the Chef’s Omakase recommended menu but I would still leave room for the specialties. This restaurant surely places near the top on my yakitori list and I’m sure you’ll agree, once you dine here.

 

Japanese cuisine always peaked our curiosity at first, especially their street foods. But when we got a taste of these famous yakitori and meat skewers around Shinjuku, we understood why they were so popular. It’s not just because of the taste but also because of the atmosphere that eating out in the street, hopping from one joint to another, that makes you love these tempting street foods.

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