33 - 35 Bridges Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2547 9273
It's truly been a while since I've had excellent kushiyaki. It might sound simple but it is an art to ensure that the grilled meats on skewers taste juicy, succulent and smoky from the slight char from the flames. My favourite has always been Torisho Taka in Singapore but that has since closed down. In Sydney, I've never been a place that totally specialises in kushiyaki/yakitori and in the few places where I've had the opportunity to savour some of the kushiyaki offerings on a menu, they've never really blown me away. And that is why I hope that a place like Yardbird opens in Sydney.
Yardbird in Hong Kong is just that kind of restaurant you would wish was in your neighbourhood - it's hip, very casual, inviting and best of all, it serves excellent food. In order to ensure that one gets a table without having to wait too long (the restaurant has a no-reservation policy), there is only one rule. Get in early (or very late, whichever you prefer).
Dinner got off to a rolling start with a Mushroom Salad. It was appetising, tart and a good start to the meat-based meal we were going to enjoy. We couldn't go past the Yardbird signature Sweet Corn Tempura. The tempura of the sweet corn kernels was moreish, light, crunchy and held together by hardly much batter.
Sweet Corn Tempura
The delicious looking plates of skewered meats started to hit the table one by one after the 2 starters. First off were the Chicken Oysters which came highly recommended by our waiter. There are only 2 oysters in each chicken and is located on the back of the chicken near the thigh. And supposedly, is the most flavoursome and tender part of the bird. As promised, the chicken oysters that were grilled with sea salt and finished with a little squeeze of lemon at the table were the juiciest and most succelent nuggets of chicken I've possibly ever eaten.
The second plate had the Chicken Necks that were finished with some pepper and yuzu kosho. The meat and skin from the necks were grilled off to perfection with the lovely char on some bits. The yuzu kosho was effective in providing that citrusy flavour to offset some of the grease from the dish.
Next up were the crunchy Chicken Gizzards which were topped off with fried crispy garlic chips. They were so succulent and flavourful. I only wished I could stomach more (had to save space for the rest you see).
The last of the yakitori orders was the Chicken Meatball. The tare that was mixed with the egg yolk made the tender chicken meat balls uber tasty and rich. Loved it!
We got a little greedy and on hindsight realised that we probably shouldn't have ordered the Scotch Egg which was on the specials board. A quail egg encrusted within a ball of minced chicken, deep fried then smothered with mayonnaise was also enjoyable but in some ways, was pretty similar to the Chicken Meatball in terms of preparation. And to be honest, this was probably the only dish that didn't make our eyes go wide when we tasted it. It was good, just not great.
Another dish off the specials board was the Clams in (somewhat of) a lime and pesto broth. The broth was incredibly aromatic and arrived steaming hot at our table. The clams were very fresh and possibly the largest I've ever eaten. The broth was extremely flavourful and surprisingly, refreshing - I was almost inclined to lift the bowl and drink all of it up from there but the iron bowl wasn't too friendly for that action (too heavy!).
KFC - Korean Fried Cauliflower
The second last dish was also another Yardbird Signature, the KFC which stands for Korean Fried Cauliflower. The flavours were very much like the Korean fried chicken that is normally doused in gochujang but this meatless version, felt a lot less heavy due to the absence of the protein but was not lacking in any flavour whatsoever.
To end the meal in typical Japanese fashion, we ordered the Chicken and Egg which was essentially a chicken risotto with peas and topped with fried chicken skin and a soft boiled egg. It was delicious and I was taking continuous spoonfuls of it until I was asked to stop because I needed to save space for a post-dinner snack at Little Bao which was located down the same street. All in all however, it was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Chicken and Egg
All in all, my meal at Yardbird was a great experience. The waiter who took care of our table was very welcoming, friendly and knew the menu at the back of his hand - something that is certainly lacking sometimes in some well known restaurants even. I won't hesitate to return to Yardbird the next time I visit Hong Kong and will definitely visit Ronin, their sister restaurant that specialises in seafood, when I'm in town next. And if you're not in the mood for the street food that Hong Kong is so famous for, this will be a great alternative and a meal to remember. Well if it's good enough to make Daniel Boulud's top 10 meals (see here), I'm sure it will impress you too.