What do you get when you combine yakitori with French cooking? A Michelin-recommended restaurant called Jinbocho Gokita that serve yakitori enhanced with French mother sauces .
Chef/Owner Yuto Gokita is pioneering yakitori eaten with French sauces. In place of yakitori dipping sauce, Gokita favours Madeira and red-wine sauces prepared from chicken bones and calf broth. Skewers of chicken breast and shrimp are smothered in sauces of crustaceans. Skewers of chicken meatballs are accented with herb butter for a Bourgogne flavour. He went to France at the age of 25, and returned to Japan after stints in two-star “La Reserv d’Eau-Lieu” in southern France, one-star “Le Jardin des Rempart” in Burgundy, and “Osterly Vieux Moulin” and other restaurants.
The best place to sit is the counter where you can watch all the action going on. It’s a eight-seater laid out in a straight line, so not too conducive for business conversations; there’s a private room and table seatings as well.
They also have a wide selection of 300 to 400 bottles of wines carefully selected by the chef himself that complement the dishes
Chateau Bernadotte 2016 Haut-Médoc
Bernadotte borders the Pauillac appellation and is a mere 3 miles from the Grand Cru’s Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. The 2016 Bernadotte has a fresh, minty, Pauillac-like bouquet that is well defined and vivacious. On the palate, the generosity asserts itself, the attack is fresh, the structure is tannic and the finish is long.
Gervey Chamberlin 2019 Domaine Lucien
It is a very elegant wine of excellent purity of excellent purity and remarkable amplitude, while remaining delicate and voluptuous. The drink is made from the Pinot Noir grape grown in the Gevrey-Chambertin appellation, famous for its incredibly powerful, “male” wines. In a very intense and complex aroma of wine, notes of cherry, blackcurrant, ground pepper, liquorice, truffle and coffee.
Of course this being a yakitori restaurant, everyone is expected to drink more.
リースで楽しむ焼鳥コース Yakitori Course to Enjoy with Sauce
Boudin noir – Liver Paste – Tartare Chicken
Instead of pickled vegetables and small dishes, the amuse bouche were very French. The chicken tartare was encased in a cannoli tube with a dab of sour cream to hold a small leaf, the liver mousse was piped as a flower on a piece of puff pastry and decorated with a single lingonberry, a slice of boudin noir (blood sausage) was clamped between two delicate pieces of toast. Everything was house-made and demonstrated the solid French techniques the kitchen team has.
Legume de la saison 季節の有機野菜 Organic vegetable from Aomori
Hidden among the organic salad were slices of smoked hamachi. It was not cured, but lightly smoked to give the fatty fish another dimension in terms of flavour and texture. Everything came together so well with a light vinaigrette dressing.
Assiette de Jour 季節の肴 Sweetfish Fritto
The ayu (sweetfish) was deep fried and the marinated in a vinegar. The second step I think was totally unnecessary and softened the crispiness of the fried fish. But the plating was amazing; the ayu looked as if it was swimming in the stream.
Yakitori carte blanche シェつおまかせ串
The yakitori began with a large ceramic plate placed in front of us and then the skewers started arriving one after another, each with its own accompanying sauce. Before long the plate was totally covered in different sauces.
Usually you would not see bread served in a yakitori-ya but because of the different sauces used, it would be necessary to use the bread to mop up the excess.
(Sasami) Chicken Breast Fillet with Horseradish Sauce
Not my favourite cut in a chicken, but Chef has nailed it with a half-cooked piece of chicken breast that can only be found in Japan. It remained soft and juicy and the horseradish sauce replaced the usual wasabi.
(Tsukune) Minced Chicken Ball with Madeira sauce
Madeira sauce is a savoury French sauce defined as a demi-glace sauce with the addition of Madeira wine. The sauce is made by sautéeing shallots and mushrooms on butter, then adding peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and Madeira wine until the concoction is reduced. The tsukune was dipped in the Madeira sauce and then completed with a creamy sauce with salsa verde. The meatball has bits crunchy parts of the soft bone of the chicken which I loved.
(Specialty) Shrimp Chicken with Americaine Sauce
This is a play on the shrimp à l’Américaine, a classic dish made with tomatoes and wine. The Americaine sauce was made from prawn shells and heads to extract the umami into a base of tomato and wine, deglazed with cognac and finally added with creme fraiche. The shrimp-like chicken was from a part under the breast plate of the chicken that only two pieces can be extracted per chicken. That’s one chicken per skewer. Likely grilled, the sauce was the highlight of this course.
(Seseri) Chicken Neck with Black Pepper
The chicken neck was a difficult part as it usually tasted quite gamey. Chef used crushed black pepper to counter the gameness.
(Tebasaki) Chicken Wings Stuffed with Squid Paella
Here, the chef has removed the bones from the mid-wings and stuffed the cavities with squid ink paella. The skin was sublimely crispy , an effect that can only be achieve through grilling the wings in an oven.
(Hatsu) Chicken Hearts with Sherry Vinegar
This part is easily overdone, but their chicken heart or hatsu was grilled perfectly, remaining crunchy and full of flavour.
(Soups) Consomme Chicken soup
The consommé was almost like an essence of chicken and went well with the shimeiji mushroom and eggplant.
(White Leber) Chicken Foie Gras with Lemon peel
Sometimes chicken will develop fatty liver that is white in appearance. They are not sick chicken, and the Japanese treasured these rare finds as natural chicken foie gras. With their higher than normal fat contents, they are sought after in yakitori. And Chef reduced the greasiness of these foie gras by adding lemon peel on the grilled liver. Creamy and delicious.
(Negima) Chicken Thigh with Leeks and Albert Sauce
The classic negima meets Albert sauce. Albert sauce is a sauce used principally in British cuisine to enhance the flavour of braised beef. It consists of grated horseradish in a clear bouillon, thickened with cream and egg yolks, and spiced with a little prepared mustard diluted in vinegar.
(Land /Pigeon) Bresse Baby Pigeon with Red Wine Sauce
The piece de resistance of the set course was the breast of ブレス産 仔鳩 Bresse baby pigeon served with red wine sauce. The pigeon was one of my favourite poultry, and only the French did it well. Now it crossed over to the yakitori world. The meat was medium rare and tender, the skin was finished on the binchotan and grilled to a crisp.
A la Carte Items
We ordered additional a la carte items to taste the rest of the rare parts they had that evening.
紀州 ほろほろ鳥 Kishu Horohoro Tori (Guinea Fowl)
There’s always a first for everything, and this was the first time I had guinea fowl. I heard so much about this prized fowl, and finally I got to try the farmed version. Guinea fowls are called “Queen of Poultry” and they are not only delicious, but also rich in nutrition and low cholesterol. It has less fat than chicken, has more protein and is rich in iron. First the cliche, it tasted like chicken. But the flesh was firmer than chicken. It looked pinkish, and yes it was done just medium. Not sure if it was alright to eat rare guinea fowl, but hey it’s Japan.
(Leber) Chicken Liver
We had the white liver for the omakase, and now we tried the regular liver. It was very good and came with a red wine sauce, but yet we had the some feeling of loss that come when you got downgraded from First Class 😉
(Sunagimo) Chicken Gizzard
Not exactly a rare part, but the gizzards came from a rare chicken. It was from 秋田 特選比内地鶏 Akita Special Selection Hinai Local Chicken and did not have any of the gameness from organs. Crunchy and yet fully cooked, it was a demonstration of perfect grilling technique and timing.
紀州 赤鶏 Kishu Red Chicken
I forgot what part this was, thigh or something closer to the tail, but it was really crispy and juicy. Instead of the usual salt, it was seasoned with shichimi, something that I had not acquired a taste of. Kishu of Wakayama Prefecture 和歌山 is where another important ingredient of all yakitori comes from – the binchotan. The so-called red chicken because of its plumage comes from the same place is prized for its delicious free-ranged meat that can be used for chicken sashimi (that we ate as tartare in the first course).
(Soriresu) Chicken Oyster
Soriresu is the chicken oyster in japanese, so named because it’s shaped like a piece of oyster flesh when harvested; it comes from the backbone and is incredibly juicy. This was the last stick for the evening. Incredible smokiness and grilled simply with salt. You can taste the chicken in each bite. I am not trying to be funny here because these days, industrial farmed chickens have lost that chicken taste as they were not allowed to grow and aged naturally.
半熟味玉そばらごはん Half-boiled Egg Minced Chicken Rice
This minced chicken rice was not drowned in sauce as many traditional shops would do. The chicken itself was very flavourful and the natural oil dripped into the rice for a Hainanese chicken rice effect. I am not sure if it was intentional though.
八女煎茶“さえみどり”ぷりん Yame Sencha “Sae Midori” Pudding
And finally a French style dessert with Japanese ingredients. Egg custard pudding was jiggly and rich with vanilla goodness. The sencha powder added a bit of bitterness and freshness that you can only get from tea. Think Earl Grey with custard.
Chef Gokita spoke very little English, and through a mix of some Japanese phrases that I picked up over the years, we managed to strike ups conversation on why he decided to do this Yakitori-French concept. He wanted to introduce a new style of cuisine with the theme of “Innovative Japanese” that expresses the fusion of French and Japanese culture.
If I would place my bets, I think they would be given their first star very soon. It was that good. Besides yakitori, they also served an omakase dinner with bigger plates like lamb and pigeons. I would definitely come back and try those.
Reservation is a must and a cover charge of around $10 will be charged per person. Treat this as the tip as in Japan there’s no tipping culture and it’s rude to tip at the end of the meal. Highly recommended if you are visiting Tokyo.
Jinbocho Gokita 神保町 五木田
2-4-9 Nishikanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0065, Japan
Tel : +81 3-6272-4365
Visited Jul 2023
Michelin Tokyo Edition Recommendation 2023
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