Food Restaurant

If Grilled Chicken and Beer Sounds Good, You Will Love Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori in Los Angeles

Grilled meats, vegetables, and if you are me, a lot of alcohol which is why I love a Japanese yakitori-ya (restaurant) and my liver is my MVP.

The one thing I loved to do every week was to have yakitori at Shin Sen Gumi in Fountain Valley, California.

Photo Description: two of the yakitori chefs at Shin Sen Gumi, the two chefs are wearing dark blue shirts, with blue and white headbands tied around their head. The back tile is small square tiles with the words Shin-Sen-Gumi written out.
Just like Mormons, grilling at Shin Sen Gumi is also done in pairs.

Q: What is “yakitori“?

A: Literally translated, it means yaki=”grill” and tori=”chicken,” yea literally bro.

Q: Is it only grilled chicken?

A: Like a lot of other yakitori-ya’s, Shin Sen Gumi also has seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, beef, pork, and an unlimited amount of free cabbage….well, I was never cut off.

Q: Is everything grilled?

A: Nope, they also offer up a variety of fried, raw, and stewed items although the primary menu is grilled chicken.

Q: How do they serve it, and how much?

A: Everything is served “a la cart” or “tapas” style. Each skewer (kushi in Japanese) is as little as $1.80, on average $2.25, to upwards of $3 to $3.50. Also earlier in the week, they have happy hour specials which are the days you’ll be adding yourself to the waiting list because of how busy it gets.

Q: Some of the different cuts/types of yakitori

A: I like everything, but I added an asterisk next to the ones I always have to order.

  • Atsuage, deep-fried tofu
  • *Bonjiri, chicken tail
  • Butabara, pork belly
  • *Chikuwa, fish cake and cheese
  • Enoki maki, mushrooms wrapped in pork
  • Ginnan, ginkgo
  • *Gyutan, beef tongue (I like it rare)
  • *Hāto/hatsu, chicken heart
  • Momo, chicken thigh
  • Nankotsu, chicken cartilage
  • Negima, chicken and spring onion
  • *Rebā, liver (I like it rare)
  • Sasami, breast meat
  • Shiro, chicken small intestines
  • Shiitake, mushroom
  • Shishito, a real mild pepper
  • *Sunagimo, chicken gizzard
  • *Tsukune, chicken meatballs
  • *Torikawa, chicken skin, grilled until crispy
  • *Tebasaki, chicken wing
  • Toriniku, all white meat on a skewer
  • *Wagyu, highly marbled beef  (I like it rare)
  • Yotsumi, pieces of chicken breast

Q: How do you order?

A: There’s a paper sheet that you’ll mark down the number of items you want, but do not order everything all at one time. The point of yakitori is to eat it throughout the night because you will want to eat it when it is hot off the grill, so don’t over order. Make sure that you pace yourself, like the way I pace myself when watching a Netflix series because if I am going to binge, I do that with beer (I lie, I binge watch Terrace House).

Q: What are the standard seasonings they will ask you to choose from?

  • Tare (soy sauce): typically a sweetened soy based sauce.
  • Shio (salt): most items are always seasoned, but there are a few such as the beef tongue and gizzard where I’ll add additional salt.

I know you like sauces/seasonings, but you really don’t need the additional sauces although if you insist.

  • Sansho Pepper: a spicy peppercorn that’ll give your tongue a tingle, and you’ll want to use it on chicken.
  • Shichimi togarashi: 7-spices chili pepper which includes hemp seed is used on all sorts of things if you like to spice up your food (not really spicy).
  • Yuzukoshōit is a paste made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, which is then allowed to ferment. I like it on pork belly and chicken.
If you have a foot fetish, this area requires everybody to take off their shoes, so now you know where to take your dates.
Pan fried tonsho gyoza ($5.50) done right with a soft and chewy outer skin and a crispy bottom.
Just like a lot of sushi bars, the yakitori skewers are on full display in the cooler. This is something you won’t find at your local chain restaurant unless you walk into their walk-in freezer.
If this was at an Murican place, I’d have a pile of fries, but instead these crispy crunchy seasoned fries are a small bunch that’ll set you back almost $5 ($4.80) although I still get them
This is as Italian as Mario is although if they want to call it salmon “carpaccio,” fine, but it is more like salmon sashimi for $8.00.
Yellowtail carpaccio, sliced raw hamachi garnished with onions, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, and ponzu $9.50.
Shime saba is marinated (cured) mackerel $7.50 which is a favorite amongst Japanese, most Asians, Scandinavians, but Americans might find it too “fishy.”
I think this is the chicken skin which is “da-ricious,” but just remember for the best tasting chicken skin, “it rubs the lotion on its skin then places it in the basket.”
I’m not a big fan of the shrimp (ebi) $3.55 here even though I love me some shrimp in general because I can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s also uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.
I have met and sat next to some cool people here, and one of which was an older couple who had told me that they just come to order this and share it between the two of them. Ever since then, I also order it all the time because I love garlic.
Just like the vast majority of Japanese restaurants, they are usually tiny, so anything beyond a 4 to a 6 top is pushing it although if you are a larger party, be sure to call a day or two in advance to reserve the tatami area (to the right which I think can accommodate upwards of 12+ people?).
I saw that they had this beef tendon, konnyaku, and tofu item on the specials menu, so I tried it out. Now, I order it all the time.
If you are eating yakitori right, this is how you should look.
Part of the spread: okra, eggplant, and crab croquettes.
Chi…chi….chi….chikuuuuuwaaaaaa! Who would have thought fish cake filled with ch, ch, ch, cheese would be so good.
My plump wiener, scallops (cooked rare with a squeeze of lemon and some salt), and chicken and green onion with a tare.
Behold!! My wiener pic in all its glory
Such a tasty wiener.
Yea, I’m not the only one who enjoys those tiny coarse wieners.
When I do liver, I like it with a lot of tare (the sweet soy based sauce) drenched all over it.
Reba (liver) cooked rare because I can’t do liver any other way because if it is overcooked, it gets kind of chalky.
Imagine that mild-mannered grill guy wearing an incredible Hulk costume made of some synthetic material on Halloween. Now, imagine how hot it was in that costume behind that hot grill as he marinated in his Hulk juices. That is hardcore dedication, and he deserves to be an Avenger.
My bougie $5 fries (top left, clockwise), marinated mackerel, chicken gizzard, beef tongue, and chicken heart. Everything a growing body needs.
I can’t tell what it is, but it kind of looks like liver although you don’t usually season it with salt, so my guess is that it is the almighty… not god, the other almighty which is wagyu! Highly marbled beef that will melt in yo mouth like buttah I tell you.
Starting from the top going clockwise: looks like sunagimo (gizzard) $2.25, tebasaki (chicken wings), tsukune (chicken meatballs… not testicles, just ground meat), and enoki wrapped in bacon.
Who would have thought roasted garlic would go so well with miso, but it does. Ninniku (garlic) with miso $2.05.
If you carb laden self wants carbs to feel satisfied, how about a grilled rice ball.
Kushi aka “skewers” as you people call it, but in some areas they be called “poking sticks.”
My Taiwanese friend loved eating intestines, and I’d disparagingly call it “asshole tube,” but over the years I have grown to love it. Just keep in mind, they don’t always serve motsunabe here although they have a restaurant solely focused on motsunabe (intestines/offal).
I never thought of myself as a dessert guy, but after having this homemade matcha (green tea) brulee $5.50, I got to have it all the time.

Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori locations

They have more locations, but they all don’t do yakitori.

18517 S. Western Ave., Gardena, CA 90248
(310) 715-1588

Fountain Valley
18315 Brookhurst St. #1, Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 962-8952

Monterey Park
111 N. Atlantic Blvd. #248 , Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 943-7956


Bonus Content
When researching some of the cuts of chicken, I wondered if chickens have testicles or a penis, so I googled it. Here is an article on “Six Things You Didn’t Know About Chicken Reproduction.”


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