The most confusing thing about Japan is trying to find the places you are going. In Tokyo (maybe all of Japan), the addresses are numbered in order they were built on the street. On any given street 123 may be nowhere near 124. Stores and restaurants always list directions on their website showing how to get to their location, but unfortunately we can’t read Japanese.
What we would do is get as close as possible to the mark on the Google Map, and then circle the block half a dozen times until we found our destination. If we couldn’t find it, we just found something else to do that looked cool. We almost had to resort to finding an alternate meal when we couldn’t find Bird Land, a well known yakitori restaurant below street level in an office building basement.
Yakitori time! What I noticed is disposable, wooden chopsticks in Japan don’t splinter like the ones we have in the states. Why is that?
Bird Land is well known for a reason. Their mastery of the grill is evident, but it’s not just that. They put together a great meal that was well balanced. If you look through the photos above, you’ll notice there’s a dish every so often that acts as a palette cleanser, a taste bud reset button. It allows you to power through the meal without getting overloaded with too much flavor.
Halfway through the meal we realized the restaurant across the hallway was Sukiyabashi Jiro. This is a 3-star Michelin rated sushi restaurant, which is arguably the best sushi restaurant in the world. A recent documentary has made Jiro even more famous. This is not a restaurant to consider dining at unless you’ve made reservations well in advance and also have lots of money to spend on a single meal.
Here Michelle stalks a sushi legend.
That bald head is Jiro, the Wizard of Sushi! After this picture one of the employees came out and told us we couldn’t take pictures, or maybe he was telling us to come in and have free sushi. We couldn’t tell the difference so we played it safe and left.
After eating and sushi chef stalking, we met up with one of Harrison and Annie’s friends to see what night life was like. Japanese people work hard, and they play even harder. This is one of the stops of the night, a bar that make it look like St. Patrick’s Day all the time.
Michelle and I were out of dinner ideas for eating at home, so we decided to go out to eat. Since we didn’t want to eat too much we decided on Shinsengumi Yakitori, where we could order small bites. For those of you unfamiliar with yakitori, here’s the quick rundown.
Yakitori , grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The term “Yakitori” can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki (skewer grilled), is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled. Both Yakitori and Kushiyaki mean the same, so the terms are used interchangeably in Japanese society
They cook over a grill, generally containing hot coals, and the menu items are individual skewers.
Chicken wing. Great crispy skin without all the oil of frying.
Chicken thigh with plum sauce.
Squid in ponzu sauce.
Chicken hearts. Yes, internal organs are on the menu too. In fact it’s some of the best stuff on the menu.
The most unique part of the dining experience aren’t the unique menu items, but it’s the loud ambiance. You eat in fear, never knowing the next time the staff is going to shout. It’s not just that they great and cheers all the customers. They have loud, booming voices and it echoes in the tiny restaurant.
I’ve written about this place before and the consensus was the same. Good food. Loud staff. We haven’t been back until this time because it was so traumatizing for Michelle. I think we just need to wear ear plugs next time.
Whoever thought the Japanese were a meek and mild people are mistaken. They are a boisterous bunch. Michelle and I decided to grab a bite to eat at Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori. We were greeted by a Japanese man with a booming voice, and the rest of the men in the restaurant echoed his sentiments. Anytime anyone would enter or leave the restaurant the place would erupt in loud voices. The staff would even cheers the patrons when drinking and encourage them to drink. I don’t speak Japanese, but I’m sure I translated it correctly. “Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot!”
Here is the evidence of the loud atmosphere. The whole time Michelle and I were trying to have a conversation.
Even though it was a deafening experience, the food was awesome. The smokey, charcoal flavor transferred from the grill to the meats is incredible.
Pork belly and pork sausage. No, they’re not just cocktail weenies.
Beef tongue, chicken thigh, and some chicken gizzard added to the mix.
Hello, there. My name is Matt, but on this website I just refer to myself as m@. I love all things Star Wars, food, beer, and music, especially The Beatles. I'm one who likes to be noticed and will sometimes say or do inappropriate things to get your attention. I'm perfectly complimented by my online and real life partner Michelle.