Isehiro is an upscale yakitori restaurant chain with its main branch in central Tokyo, not far from Tokyo Station. It was established in 1921, which makes it the oldest yakitori restaurant in Tokyo. Due to its popularity Isehiro evolved into an upscale chain restaurant with a branch in the New Otani Hotel
Skewers of succulent chicken morsels are dipped in barbecue sauce or salted and then grilled to perfection over hot, aromatic charcoals. The yakitori were very good, and the ingredients come from various places in and around Tokyo. Only the best ingredients are selected, such as hand-made salt from Shizuoka. I had one of the evening courses in which the yakitori come one by one.
Course items include 10 skewers of goodness and two sides
- ささみ Sasami – lightly grilled with salt and garnished with wasabi
- 肝類 Kimo-rui – chicken heart and liver grilled with sauce
- 砂肝 Sunagimo – chicken gizzards grilled with salt
- うずら卵 Uzura tamago – quail eggs
- 葱巻 Negi maki – grilled chicken slices wrapped around shishito, mushroom and leeks
- 団子 Dango – chicken meatballs with sauce
- 皮身 Kawa – chicken skin grilled with salt
- もも肉 Momoniku – chicken thigh with leeks in sweet sauce (no photo)
- 合鴨 Aigamo – grilled duck breast with salt
- 手羽 Teba – chicken wing grilled with salt
- Sides of 特製鶏スープ special chicken broth, and もろきゅう moro kyū pickled cucumber
The most popular item on the menu is the dango. Not a sweet dango, but what at other yakitori restaurants you call Tsukune, chicken meat balls with small pieces of cartilage. Special at Isehiro is that there is no space between the balls, not such a world-shocking innovation, but tasty nonetheless.
I ordered one more ala carte stick of 軟骨 Nankotsu chicken cartilage which still had some meat intact on the soft bone.
They are using ubame-binchotan charcoal for an authentic taste. This type of charcoal dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868) when this charcoal made from oak wood from Wakayama prefecture became widely used.
Taking the chicken of the skewers is very easy at this restaurant as you get a dedicated tool to do that. It’s a metal stick with one of the ends bent 90 degrees. No clumsy maneuvering with chopstiks to take those pieces off (by the way, you are not supposed to eat directly from the skewer).
You can adjust the taste with sanshō (Japanese pepper) or shichimi (7 herbs, very spicy). Getting a yakitori served one by one on a white plate makes that plate rather dirty after you had a few.
And what best to wash down all these grilled and barbecue? An ice cold beer.
Kyobashi Isehiro (Hotel New Otani branch)
Japan, 〒102-0094 Tokyo, 千代田区紀尾井町４−１
ホテルニューオータニ ザ･メイン アーケード階
Tel : +81 3-3221-4101
Date Visited : Nov 2018