Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yakitoriya: secret (shhhh) special cartilage skewers in the Westside

Yakitoriya on Sawtelle in West LA is one of my oldie but goodies. I don't go often (it gets pricey for Asian food) but I always leave extremely happy. Yakitoriya specializes in yakitori (Japanese skewers) but they also offer other more filling dishes on their menu. It's pretty authentic here, the staff speak little English.

They also have daily specials that are posted on the wall.

The restaurant is small, with an open kitchen where the grand master grills up the skewers.

The skewers aren't cheap ($2.50-$3.50 per stick) and are not that filling. There is also a minimum order of 5 sticks per person. They also offer non skewer items such as duck & mushroom ravioli (really good), deep fried gizzards and soboro rice. When we go, we always order from the special menu, which includes a limited supply of unique sticks such as chest bone and chicken knee. All cartilage. Unfortunately they only make a few special sticks a day so we always call in advance to order. They'll take your credit card number down and will charge you if you don't show.

Gyoza ~ A nice start to the meal. The chicken gyozas were perfectly crispy on the outside.

The fried chicken was perfectly fried. The chicken was piping hot and tender, with a well seasoned breading. I just cannot get enough of Japanese fried chicken. So much less greasy than the western versions.

Gizzard skewer ~ From the regular menu. This had a bit of crunch and chew, and lightly seasoned with salt. A small sprinkle of spicy salt gives the skewers a needed kick.

Special heart ~ I really enjoyed the hearts (don't think about how many chickens this came from..) The hearts were very tender and not rubbery. They were drizzled with a sweet soy sauce.

Eggplant with chicken was a good way to get some greens in. The chicken was a thin slice that looked almost like bacon.

Neck ~ This was from the special menu, something that we had not ordered before. For some reason, we thought it would be neck bone, but instead it was the neck meat. It was tender and tasted like chicken thigh. Unfortunately no bone here..

Chest bone ~ This is from the special menu. I love the chest bone of any bird. I love trying to get every piece of meat off the bone. Thankfully, this was easy. It was all meat and crunchy cartilage.

Knee Bone ~ Another one of my favorites from the special menu. Who knew chicken had knees?? I really love the crunch of the cartilage. So much fun to eat. There's a bit of meat attached to the bone.

Skin ~ Totally indulgent skewer that's all skin. The skin was crispy, and reminded me of the skin of a roast sucking pig. There's a bit of crispiness, a bit of fattiness. Amazing combination.

Chicken Wing ~ Always a fun skewer to eat. Lots of skin, meat and bone. The skin was crispy with a slight char.

Their homemade ice cream is one of my favorites. The flavors change daily but I was so excited when I saw my favorite flavor black sesame was one of the choices. The chestnut was another good choice, which I ordered a scoop to go. I love the texture of the sesame in the ice cream. Similar to their special sticks, their ice cream runs out quickly.

Always a great meal at Yakitoriya. The special sticks are my favorite, specifically the tender special hearts and the crunchy chest bones. The only downside is that the bill does add up quickly. We spent about $100 for 2 (with only one glass of wine). You can keep the bill lower by ordering more substantial dishes such as the soboro rice. But Yakitoriya is worth the splurge when you're feeling the need for some original and unique skewers.

Hits: chicken knee, special hearts, ice cream
Misses: can get pricey
Rating: ****

11301 W Olympic Blvd # 101
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 479-5400

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