Japanese food is not just about raw fish, although so many people seem to think it. There is so much more to this fantastic cuisine than Sushi and Sashimi, like Yakitori. It’s simply grilled chicken or the Japanese version of meat on a stick. At Yakitori restaurants, meat and offal is cut into bite sized pieces, marinated and grilled.
Jidori in Covent Garden is the second outpost for this Yakitori restaurant. Housed over 3 floors in a town house, the narrow space has been artfully converted into many levels of dining and bar space. Use of the pale wood partitions gives it a very uniquely Japanese feel.
What is the difference between Yakitori and Robata restaurants?
Both Yakitori and Robata restaurants use a similar kind of grill. Robata restaurants will offer a diverse menu from all cuts of meats to vegetable. At Yakitori restaurants, the menu is predominantly chicken based.
Order like the Japanese Salary Men
Japanese customers will order a selection of Yakitori and a big bottle of Sake. Other customers will order a selection of small plates and one stick of yakitori.
If you have never had yakitori and feel like being a little adventurous, try the Omakase menu, Chef Shuto’s choice. This is the chef’s selection which showcases their best sellers and you can’t go wrong.
The menu starts with a few small bites as snacks and then progresses with 9 yakitori sticks, an ochazuke bowl and a dessert.
How to eat Yakitori
The best way is to order the most lightly seasoned ones first like the chicken thighs, before you move on to the deeper flavours like the offal.
To get the most delicious flavours, just bite the meat straight off the skewers. This way, you can savour the flavours of the marinade and get a hint of the char from the grill, engaging not just your taste buds. The used sticks are dropped into a glass or a container on the table. I must apologise the chefs, but I like to add shichimi pepper to mine first.
At Jidori, they celebrate everything chicken and serve almost every part in one form or another. Their yakitori menu has chicken thighs, hearts, liver and even cripsy chicken skins. The skewers are either seasoned with just salt or a sweet and savoury sauce using a soy sauce base.
To keep the juiciness of the thighs, they marinate it for a few hours and grill it quickly. The resulting chicken is juicy, with a nice char and hints of the marinade.
My favourite dish, the most moreish chicken skins are prepared by scraping off the fat, which are then boiled and then grilled until crispy. Chicken hearts grilled have a bouncy texture, a contrast to the meat.
Chicken wings with shisho is served with a grilled lemon. A subtle change in texture and flavour from the other sticks that we have tried.
To drink, there is a selection of Artisan sakes and Japanese beers. Japanese inspired cocktails on the menu include an umeshu fizz, made with that distinctive plum wine.
Jidori uses fresh free range chicken from Yorkshire and the menu will include every part of the chicken. These Tsukune sticks, glazed minced chicken dipped in egg yolks are quite superb too.
Don’t miss the homemade pickles. Pickles is usually one of the courses in a Japanese omakase meal. Chef Shunta uses his Grandma’s fermentation starter to make some of his pickles. Each are quite unique and quite delicious.
In the kitchen, they have specially built Kama-Asa Shoten grills, sourced directly from Tokyo and designed to be manned by 4 chefs. The grill is the exact width of each stick and at a height that is ergonomically perfect for the chefs.
For parties, you can book out their Private Karaoke room. Get 12 mates and get ready to party. For £40 a head, you get a tasting menu of yakitori dishes and the room rental. Order a big bottle of sake to shore up the Dutch courage and sing your favourite tunes.
The Jidori Omakase menu is £30 per person and small plates start at £4. Lunch menus include a choice of rice bowls like yakitori don or salmon sashimi don. Jidori’s casual menu is great for lunch or a pre-theatre meal in Covent Garden. Go with a group of friends and try every stick on the menu and drink one of their mega bottles of artisan sake. Deliciously simple.
Jidori Covent Garden
15 Catherine St,
London WC2B 5JZ
Tel: 020 7836 3145
EatCookExplore was a guest of Jidori