This was the first Japanese-style yakitori I found in Seoul, a Michelin Bib Gourmand no less. Not easy to find if you cannot read Hangul.
Yakitori Mook is nestled in a busy alley away from the main streets of Gangnam in the Sinsa district. Look for this bright yellow sign and make you way down the basement.
You will see a door sign that looked like a French bistro that featured the French national emblem. You are in the right place. Make your way inside this yakitori specialist and you will find an elongated counter and open kitchen, and a constantly smoking stove.
Once inside, you will see chefs busy concentrating on grilling yakitori skewers over binchotan as well as a straw fire. This visually arresting image of the chef, standing under the intense lights that also illuminate the grill, is reminiscent of an actor delivering a monologue on stage.
They used the highest-grade Japanese binchotan charcoal, which is more expensive and difficult to handle than normal charcoal. It takes a lot longer to blaze yet its firepower lasts longer without drastic temperature changes,
In yakitori, you subdivide the chicken’s parts and select the appropriate ones for roasting. Almost nothing is wasted. Yakitori allows you to enjoy the charm of a chicken by its parts. And they use the Korean native chicken known as tojongdak.
It has a great taste and meat quality, full of subtle flavour. Compared to ordinary chicken meat, which is commonly described as “white paper,” Korean native chicken has a much more condensed taste and aroma of fat and flesh. Since there are not many domestic producers, the price is comparatively expensive.
야키토리오마카세 Yakitori Omakase
Everyone came for their omakase, although they have an ala carte menu. We ordered our drinks, and they promptly served some snacks to go with our drinks.
The snacks included a cabbage salad with a Japanese vinaigrette and house-made potato chips. The chips were too oily in my opinion.
Here’s what we had for the omakase.
- 짚구이 참치 Straw Grilled Tuna / Warayaki Maguro
- 치킨 남만 Chicken Nanban / チキン南蛮
- 가슴살짚불꼬치구이 Chicken Breast Straw Roast / 藁炙り鶏胸
- 닭간파테 Chicken Liver Pâté & Blueberry Jam
- 다리살&대파 Thigh With Spring Onion / Negima
- 방울토마토 Cherry Tomato / チェリートマト
- 날개 Wing / Teba
- 토종닭육수 Chicken Soup / 土種鶏肉スープ
- 넓적다리꼬치구이 Thigh / Momo
- 떡구이 Grilled Tteok (Rice Cake)
- 염통 Heart / Hatsu
- 오니기리오차즈케 Rice Ball In Chicken Soup / Onigiri Chazuke
- 모래집 Gizzard / Sunagimo (ala carte)
- 껍질 Skin / Kawa (ala carte)
- 꼬리살 Tail / Bonjiri (ala carte)
- 나스 타라쿠 Miso Glazed Eggplant / Nasu Dengaku (ala carte)
- 닭고기완자 와수란 Chicken Meatball / Tsukune (ala carte)
- 제철과일또는수제디저트 Dessert
짚구이 참치 Straw Grilled Tuna / Warayaki Maguro
Not my favourite cut of tuna, maguro is lean and perfect for grilling. They used the warayaki (straw grilling) method that produced a very smoky and moist piece of tuna.
치킨 남만 Chicken Nanban / チキン南蛮
Deep fried pieces of chicken seasoned with tartar sauce, chicken nanban is a Japanese fusion cuisine at its finest and one of Japan’s most popular ways to enjoy fried chicken. It was created in a small town in the Miyazaki. Allegedly, it was a humble meal made for the staff of a local diner Nao-chan during the 1950s, and it quickly gained popularity as a menu item throughout Kyushu before finding its way around the rest of Japan and around the world.
가슴살짚불꼬치구이 Chicken Breast Straw Roast / 藁炙り鶏胸
藁炙 Warayaki is a special way of grilling the chicken. Instead of using binchotan, straws are used. The burning straw provides a dramatic fierce fire with temperatures in the range of 800 – 900˚C- and this results in very fast and even cooking, as the high temperatures sear the outer layers and leave the centre of the chicken tender and juicy.
Chicken breast / mune, which wasn’t my favourite cut of chicken, had a soft texture and rich flavour; it was served medium-rare. In Japan, chicken breast is even enjoyed as sashimi.
닭간파테 Chicken Liver Pâté & Blueberry Jam
The chicken liver pâté was spiked with cognac that gave it a lot of flavour. It was a very rich spread on toast and balanced out with sweet and slight sour blueberry jam.
다리살&대파 Thigh With Spring Onion / Negima
A classic yakitori favourite, the chicken thigh with leeks (which they have wrongly translated to spring onion) or negima (ねぎま) is one of the most popular types of yakitori that was often screwed up completely. Mook had done it properly; flavoured with shio (salt), the skin was crispy while the meat was moist and tender.
방울토마토 Cherry Tomato / チェリートマト
A couple of grilled cherry tomatoes to cleanse the palate before the next item. The warm tomato burst with flavour of a delicious fruit.
One third into the meal we were reminded that everyone has to order one alcoholic drink as least, so we worked hard to cover the group quota with the Japanese highball and a NV champagne from Louis Perdrier.
날개 Wing / Teba
Tebasaki 手羽先 is a traditional Japanese yakitori dish made with chicken mid-wings as the main ingredient. The wings are usually seasoned only with salt and pepper in order to better savor the crispy skin, and they typically come in butterflied pairs on a skewer.
Here, the chef has removed the bones from the mid-wings and stuffed the wings with more chicken meat from the leg. It was similar to the Thai stuffed chicken wing ปีกไก่ยัดไส้; it does require some skill and time to debone the wings without damaging the skin.
토종닭육수 Chicken Soup / 土種鶏肉スープ
The chicken soup was packed with flavours from boiling a copious amount of chicken carcass, feet and neck with seaweed to make a stock for this miso-based soup.
넓적다리꼬치구이 Thigh / Momo
떡구이 Grilled Tteok (Rice Cake)
This was the only item that had Korean influence. The traditional Korean garaetteok (cylindrical rice cake) was grilled and served with a savoury sauce and with fresh shiso and mayonnaise. Although they can be enjoyed on their own, because of their neutral flavour, the rice cakes are easily incorporated into various dishes, and more common in the street food rice cake in gochujang.
염통 Heart / Hatsu
This part is easily overdone, but their chicken heart or hatsu was grilled perfectly, remaining crunchy and full of flavour.
오니기리오차즈케 Rice Ball In Chicken Soup / Onigiri Chazuke
Onigiri Chazuke is a Japanese dish that consists of a large rice ball (onigiri) in a warm and flavourful broth (chazuke). The clear broth made with chicken stock used in the soup before seeped into the sticky rice, which became soft and tender as you eat it. Served with a piece of grilled pork belly in the style of charsiu. This main course concluded the main part of the omakase.
모래집 Gizzard / Sunagimo (ala carte)
First of the additional ala carte items I added to the meal was part of the trio that I loved. Chicken gizzard / sunagimo has a crunchy texture if done correctly. Instead of shio, it was done with tare.
껍질 Skin / Kawa (ala carte)
The crispy texture and savoury oily skin are achieved by cooking over low heat for a long time. Chicken skin / kawa was made only from the skin that came out of the ankle.
꼬리살 Tail / Bonjiri (ala carte)
The third item I loved ordering was the chicken tail / bonjiri. Fatty and soft, but with a crispy exterior, they are very good eats despite being the chicken bottom.
나스 타라쿠 Miso Glazed Eggplant / Nasu Dengaku (ala carte)
This was quite heavy. Nasu Dengaku なす田楽 is a classic Japanese side dish made with eggplant sliced in half, scored and brushed with a sweet and savory miso sauce.
닭고기완자 와수란 Chicken Meatball / Tsukune (ala carte)
This is a must-order if you come here. The traditional chicken meatball / tsukune is always testimony of a good yaktori-ya and here they proved it once again. Served on a poached egg ポーチド, you break the yolk and used it as a dipping sauce. The sweet and salty tare with the creamy wok just hit the spot.
I thought this was a palate cleanser but it came at the end so I can only think it was the dessert. A single scoop of shiso lemon flavoured sorbet was refreshing way to end the meal.
Yakitori Mook is a place where you can enjoy delicious food and alcohol, putting down your thoughts while relaxing in front of the fire. The basic omakase only cost $35 per person, but you are required to order a drink. And the you would be tempted to move beyond the basic 10 items.
The atmosphere of the place was fantastic, you would believe this to be a yakitori-ya in Tokyo but everyone’s speaking Korean. Limited language capability, but there’s English menu. Except the difficult to locate it at street level, everything else was fantastic.
Yakitori Mook 야키토리 묵
512-11, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul B1
서울특별시 강남구 강남대로152길 23 B1
Tel : 070-4134-3433
Visited Mar 2023
Michelin Seoul Guide Bib Gourmand 2021-23
@yakitorimook #야키토리묵 #야키토리 #yakitorimook #yakitorimooksinsa #yakitorimookseoul