One thing that I really miss in London is a good kushiyaki bar. Kushiyaki means food that is skewered and grilled. Yakitori is specifically chicken treated in this way. I’ve tried a few (though not Bincho yet) and found them lackluster. There is something deeply weird about visiting a kushiyaki “bar” and being seated at a table with a white tablecloth with no grills in sight, by the time your skewers make their way out of the kitchen they’re often cold. It just doesn’t make any sense. Charging £4 for a single, cold, skewered chicken thigh that definitely wasn’t cooked over charcoal really misses the whole point. It’s meant to be simple, cheap, food that you eat with a couple of beers at the bar.
So while we were in Vancouver we tried to find something that would feel like my old Auckland favourite Tanuki’s Cave.
Zakkushi was the closest thing we could find. Really it is an amalgamation of sushi and izakaya style restaurants. But I was happy enough. Their kushiyaki was pretty good.
We started with some seaweed salad, and spinach dressed with sesame oil
Then between four of us we ordered six different types of Kushiyaki. Each dish is made up of two skewers so ordering two of each type meant we could all try a portion.
Chicken wings, marinaded eggplant, and green garlic wrapped in thinly sliced pork. All very good, and arrived at the table hot and straight off the charcoal grill. The chicken wing had been interestingly deconstructed as well.
Okra with dancing bonito flakes. You either enjoy okra or you don’t. Jen doesn’t (ugh, slimy). I do.
Rice grilled with a a soy and butter sauce. A delicate taste. Was hoping that these would be more obviously buttery.
Same kushiyaki as above, along with some pork gyoza.
Pork belly/bacon and asparagus. It’s a good combination with thick pieces of pork.
And some chicken thighs with the teryaki sauce. With most of the grilled meats you have the option of having them grilled with either just salt or teryaki sauce.
Japanese mayonnaise is amazing stuff. If you haven’t tried Kewpie mayo I exort you to click that link and get some right now. Well I’m not sure what was on these ebimayo prawns because it didn’t taste like Kewpie. The mayo tasted sweet. A bit like thousand island dressing? It was the only disappointing thing we ordered.
Finally we finished the meal off with some sashimi. Very good tuna. Simple. Zakkushi isn’t quite my platonic ideal of the place to eat kushiyaki but the skewers are good. Maybe I’ll make a reservation at Bincho when we’re back in London and see if they manage it. And thanks to cousin Ben for some of the photos. He took the really nice ones 🙂