1 Star Michelin
May 30th, 2014
Thoughts on the Michelin-starred and well-renowned yakitori restaurant Birdland- located next to Jiro. I was very curious to see how a michelin rating would elevate typically humble pub food. Certainly I appreciated the lack of smoke and the beautiful (kirei) atmosphere. The chicken is of gve highest quality. All free range and cooked rare. It is reasonably priced, the wine list was one of the most approachable of our whole trip. The chicken livers were plump and juicy and probably the best we ever had. But fir me there was something “off” about the place. If it was in LA, i would describe it as”hipster.” There was something just a little but disingenuous about the whole thing. The courses were delivered in random order. The head chef (itamae) was only peripherally involved in what was coming off the grill. The servers and grillers were the same people. Everything was good don’t get me wrong- but it lacked something. Maybe it lacked the grease in the way philly cheesesteaks taste best in philly where they take on the flavor of a grill seasoned with the steaks of yesteryear. Or maybe it just lacked the love. That said, i think this restaurant is perfect for introducing people to yakitori, but for people like us who have had yakitori dozens of times i think it would not be impressive from a pure foodie standpoint, but it is a great place to take friends for a fun and tasty night out.
We were not allowed to take photographs, so instead I am including some photos of a no-name yakitori place we went to in “piss alley” where no one spoke english. The guy next to us at the bar had a daughter in San Francisco and he called her while we were at the restaurant to help translate. The highlight of the meal was a chicken fallopian tube with egg, pictured below. The gizzard was also delightful.