Bird Land Meat on a Stick

Bird Land – Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

In Japan, Restaurants by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch1 Comment

Awarded a Michelin star, Bird Land offers the ultimate multi-course yakitori experience that goes beyond meat on a stick.

Bird Land - View of the Action Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Bird Land – View of the Action

Yakitori is a fairly simple and straight-forward style of grilling.  There is a heat source, a grate and a vessel to hold these elements together.  There’s no smoking like in American barbecue.  The cooking is fast and furious, and the proteins and vegetables are cooked with precision.  There are no gimmicks and no crazy sauces or sides.  That’s it.

So it’s with a certain degree of wonder that a restaurant like Bird Land could earn a one star review from Michelin.

Food at Bird Land – More than Just Meat on a Stick

Our meal began with selection of  assorted appetizers – fava beans, gizzards, chicken skin and pickled mountain vegetables.

Tasty Appetizers Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Tasty Appetizers

Then, a skewer of sasami chicken filet arrived: very lightly cooked breast meat topped with apricot sauce and fresh shiso.  Yes, you read that correctly. The chicken was prepared medium rare – a level of doneness never seen in the USA .  However, Bird Land uses special free-range Oku-Kuji shamo (gamecocks) that are reared under special conditions in the mountains of Iwate.  Unlike many industrially farmed birds of America, these birds are free of disease and big on flavor.  It all makes perfect sense.

'Medium Rare' Char-Grilled Fillet with Japanese Apricot Sauce Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

‘Medium Rare’ Char-Grilled Fillet with Japanese Apricot Sauce

Next we enjoyed chicken liver pate – a Japanese answer to Mom’s chopped liver – perfectly seasoned and beautifully presented.

Chicken Liver Pate Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Liver Pate

Chicken Liver Pate - Ready to Eat Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Liver Pate – Ready to Eat

After the pate, the skewers starting coming out one at a time. Each was artfully presented on its own plate.

Wasabi Chicken Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Wasabi Chicken

Daryl Eating the Wasabi Chicken Skewer Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Daryl Eating the Wasabi Chicken Skewer

As part of the skewer parade, a plate of Yakitori chicken livers arrived. The liver morsels seemed unassuming at first, but one bite revealed a chicken liver with a perfectly creamy consistency and sweetness. This was Tokyo food craft at its best.  After the liver, the yakitori parade continued.

Best Chicken Liver Ever Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Best. Chicken. Liver. Ever.

Sansho-Yaki - Premium Shamo Gamecock, Grilled Expertly and Dusted with Numbing Sansho Powder Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Sansho-Yaki – Premium Shamo Gamecock, Grilled Expertly and Dusted with Numbing Sansho Powder

Fresh Tofu with Olive Oil and Pepper. The Locally Made Tofu Possessed a Creamy Texture Similar to an Italian Burrata. Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Fresh Tofu with Olive Oil and Pepper. The Locally Made Tofu Possessed a Creamy Texture Similar to an Italian Burrata.

Mindi Biting into a Ginko Nut Skewer Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Mindi Biting into a Ginko Nut Skewer

Chicken Oyster Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Oyster

Chicken Oysters with Lime. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Oysters with Lime

Salad Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Salad  – A/K/A a Break from the Chicken Parade

Chicken Meatballs. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Skin Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Skin

Matsutake Mushrooms Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Matsutake Mushrooms

White Asparagus. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

White Asparagus

Chicken Thigh with Spring Onion and Green Chili Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Chicken Thigh with Spring Onion and Green Chili

Char-Grilled Cacciovallo Cheese Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Char-Grilled Cacciocavallo Cheese

Then we reached the zenith of our meal (as if we needed any more) – Oyako-Don, a dish of chicken and egg over Japanese rice. The classic soft scrambled eggs with chicken created a remarkable synthesis. In spiritual terms, the dish seemed to symbolize the forces of life’s creation and end in one scrumptious bowl.  Plus, it tasted good.

Oyako-Don (Chicken & Egg on Rice) Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Oyako-Don (Chicken & Egg on Rice)

Dessert at Bird Land

We finished our meal with rice pudding. However, unlike western rice puddings which feature whole grains of  rice, this pudding was made with finely textured rice flour. We appreciated the smooth pudding’s light, ungummy texture.

Rice Pudding with Strawberries Bird Land Tokyo Japan. Bird Land - Meat on a Stick and So Much More in Tokyo

Rice Pudding with Strawberries

Bird Land has a wonderful wine list. We chose to order Grüner Veltliner  from Austria – a perfect accompaniment for the wonderful poultry. The wine list was the one item of detail, among many, which propelled Bird Land into the Michelin star territory.

As we finished the night by strolling through the tony Ginza neighborhood, enjoying the bright neon lights and window shopping, we could only ponder the mastery of such simple food. For sure, anyone could throw meat on a stick, place it over a hot fire and cook it. But it takes years of mastery to serve food that is absolutely perfect.

That is what Bird Land does.


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