This is not your typical yakitori place; none of the delicious skewers of chicken parts is grilled on charcoal.
Tokyo Station on a typical weekday evening – large groups of people walking around to their platforms; Out-of-towners rushing to their Shinkansen to go back to their homes. Around the corner under the overhead tracks are rows of small eateries that quickly opened for those looking to beat the commuting crowd for an after office drinks and food with colleagues. The izakaya culture is in full swing along the track.
It was not as crowded as pre-Covid days on this cold evening that I visited. Many offices were still practicing remote working, although returning to the office was becoming the normal. Group gathering after office became more precious with colleagues these days as it was difficult to get everyone together spontaneously. I met with my Japanese colleagues for the first time ever because they came on board during the pandemic and I was only in Japan the first time in 3 years.
We picked an izakaya with an interesting concept of stewed skewers; not yakitori, but chicken skewers that are cooked in a rich chicken broth with plenty of collage. Shimiru opened in July 2021, a brave time to open a new restaurant, and has been providing an alternative to yakitori that is refreshing in its concept.
The chicken skewers are sous-vide, or slow-cooked in a rich chicken broth. The chicken broth, which is the base of those complexity in flavours, is made with the chicken bones, chicken wings and vegetables boiled together for over 10 hours, and finally adding Hakata miso and dashi. The chicken skewers are then glazed with a special miso sauce that give them the rich umami and smokey taste of yakitori before serving.
And off we went for our dinner. This house-made kimchi was part of the otoshi お通し, a customary cover charge that every Izakaya will impose on each individual.
せせりと分葱の柚子胡椒ぽん酢がけ Chicken neck and green onion with yuzu pepper and ponzu sauce showed how every part of the chicken can be made full use in a yakitori. Usually I would throw away the chicken neck; most western supermarket would not even packed it with the chicken. But in Japan where the chickens are raised in a very strict code, the entire chicken can be safely eaten.
里芋の鬼皮揚 (Taro no onikawa Age) Deep fried taro that were seasonal for this period was a savoury version of our Teochew orh nee (taro paste) and eaten with pepper yuzu salt on the side.
熟成鶏生ハムの炙り、塩レモン Sous vide dry-cured chicken ham, salted lemon was very tender piece of chicken breast served with a special chutney made from salted lemon zest and mashed radish. I find it a bit under salted for a ham, but the waiter explained it was supposed to be eaten with the really sour and salty lemon chutney.
とろレバー Chicken liver was divine! The liver was cooked perfectly even though it tasted raw, and the sauce gave it the yakitori taste that fooled my tastebuds at the first bite.
おでん色々 Assorted oden included a well cooked 大根 radish, a 極み 濃厚玉子 special boiled egg and a nice piece of 厚揚げ deep-fried tofu and topped with the rich chicken broth used to cook the skewers.
Besides the really generous piece of daikon that was cooked and flavoured to the core with the excellent dashi, the highlight was the boiled egg with its oozing egg yolk. No wonder they described it in Japanese as “the ultimate thick egg”.
鶏しゅうまい Chicken shumai was their signature dish – a Japanese style minced chicken shumai that was taken from the Cantonese siewmai tradition smothered with the same thick miso dashi sauce that was used with the chicken skewers and topped with a raw egg yolk. Break the yolk an like the richness of the yolk envelops the shumai before you eat it.
It seemed like an evening without any vegetable, so we ordered something seasonal. 水ナス Water eggplant was unlike the normal eggplant; it is sweet and tasted like a crunchy fruit. Delicious.
While one may argue that this is like kkochi eomuk 꼬치 어묵 (fish cake skewers) from Korea, or Lok-lok (skewers either cooked in broth or deep fried and served with a thick satay sauce) from Malaysia, the izakaya experience and the final taste are definitely Japanese.
While I preferred the grilled version of the yakitori, I came to love the alternative preparation of chicken ryorui that gave the simple ingredient many other variations. Gave me some ideas for my next sous vide adventure.
The staff spoke very little English, and the menu was only available in Japanese. The clientele was almost entirely Japanese, so if you want to have a full experience, I would suggest to bring a local along.
Shimiru Marunouchi しみる 丸の内
1-chome-7-3 Marunouchi Chiyoda City Tokyo
東京都 千代田区 丸の内 1-7-3 東京駅北口高架下
Tel : 050-5890-8747 (+81-50-5890-8747)
Visited Nov 2022