“Yakitori (Japanese: 焼き鳥) is a Japanese type of skewered chicken. Its preparation involves skewering the meat with kushi (串), a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire. During or after cooking, the meat is typically seasoned with tare sauce or salt.” – Wikipedia
Since learning that the people behind Jidori were opening a second restaurant, this time in Covent Garden, I had been waiting with baited breath to try it out. However, it did not help that they opened their doors while I was on holiday in New Orleans. Upon my return, as soon as a group of friends wanted to get together for dinner my instant response was “Food: Jidori, Covent Garden”
Located on Catherine Street near Covent Garden, Jidori’s new site spans two floors, with a now fully functioning private room for karaoke in the basement. They do take bookings, and by some stroke of luck, we were able to book a table for six. At 8:00 PM. On a Saturday evening.
Jidori is primarily known for yakitori. Bite-sized pieces of meat on skewers, grilled to absolute perfection. In Jidori’s case, all the meat is chicken, and they do have a few vegetable options including mushroom, and aubergine. In fact, the aubergine ones were so popular I never even got a chance to get a picture of them.
Their menu is split into small plates, yakitori, and a few larger plates/bowls. The idea is that you share the food, rather than hoard your meal to yourself. In all honesty, this format worked out really well for our group size as it allowed us to try many dishes. And so I heard the phrase:
“We’ll take one of everything”
Now to clear things up, we did mean one of everything from the yakitori section. The yakitori usually come in two skewer portions. However, you can request three skewer portions (costs 50% extra). We also got a few of the small plates, and, after a discussion with our waiter, would decide later if we needed a large plate dish as well (we would). They also have a fantastic selection of drinks including a robust list of sake, beers, shochu (for me), and cocktails.
What followed after placing our order was a procession of yakitori. Dish after dish was given to us to savour one after the other. Now, if you would rather everything was brought to you together then… I guess you could ask? It was not something that occurred to us when we ordered.
Now, on the whole, the food was absolutely enjoyed by all.
In particular the Katsu scotch egg. We got three plates of this, giving a half a scotch egg for everyone.
Negima (chicken thigh and spring onion),
And the Tebasaki (wings with shiso and grilled lemon)
In some cases, we asked for extra portions – in particular for the Salmon.
While in other cases, the dish was hit or miss such as the Tsukune (minced chicken served with egg yolk).
And the Hatsu (heart and bacon), and Reba (liver). I should point out that I am not a fan of liver in the slightest. However, the way it was cooked here made it light, and soft enough to practically melt in your mouth. And Yes, for the people still wondering about the Tsukune up there, that is an egg yolk that you mix into the sauce.
I can understand the aversion to this, however, the one thing I have always known about Japanese food is they love using raw egg. And as such, take great care in making sure it is the freshest. But, if raw egg yolk is a shade too far, then you can request that it not be served with it.
As we lost count of what was still to come, we made the executive decision to try out one of the large plates. One of our group had been eyeing up the duck dish.
The duck meat practically fell off the bone and was marinated in a gorgeous sweet/salty sauce. I should mention that the sauce of this dish came with an egg yolk to mix into it.
Finishing up everything and we were absolutely stuffed.
However, with a description of:
“Ginger ice cream, miso caramel, sweet potato crisps & black sesame”
There was no way we were going to turn down a chance to try this. Especially after trying the soy sauce ice cream at Sticky Mango in Waterloo a few years ago (I believe it is no longer on their menu).
And it didn’t disappoint. It definitely is a different flavour profile compared to your usual desserts. But make no mistake, it is sweet, and it is a dessert.
All in all, we were stuffed, and satisfied. In total, we paid around £30 per head for the food and drinks (we only had one alcoholic drink each) which is entirely reasonable for Japanese food I think.
I for one will definitely be back, Jidori provides a different kind of Japanese food from the streets and stores of sushi, ramen, and dons. And one that I think more people should try.
Address: 15 Catherine St WC2B 5JZ