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.
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
*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
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).
Yuzukoshō: it 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.
Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori locations
They have more locations, but they all don’t do yakitori.