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Upscale Yakitori At Bird Land In Tokyo

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

View of the Action Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Bird Land – View of the Action | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Yakitori is a fairly simple and straightforward 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 Tokyo restaurant like Bird Land could earn a one-star review from Michelin.

Food At Bird Land

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

Tasty Appetizers at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Tasty Appetizers | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Char-Grilled Fillet at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
‘Medium Rare’ Char-Grilled Fillet with Japanese Apricot Sauce | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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

Chicken Liver Pate at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Liver Pate | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Liver Pate Plate at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Liver Pate – Ready to Eat | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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

Wasabi Chicken Bird at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Wasabi Chicken | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Daryl Eating the Wasabi Chicken at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Daryl Eating the Wasabi Chicken Skewer | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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.

Chicken Liver at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Best. Chicken. Liver. Ever. | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Sansho-Yaki at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Sansho-Yaki – Premium Shamo Gamecock, Grilled Expertly and Dusted with Numbing Sansho Powder | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Fresh Tofu at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Fresh Tofu with Olive Oil and Pepper. The Locally Made Tofu Possessed a Creamy Texture Similar to an Italian Burrata. | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Mindi Biting into a Ginko Nut Skewer at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Mindi Biting into a Ginko Nut Skewer | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Oyster at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Oyster | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Oysters with Lime at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Oysters with Lime | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Salad at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Salad – A/K/A a Break from the Chicken Parade | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Meatballs at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Meatballs | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Skin at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Skin | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Matsutake Mushrooms at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Matsutake Mushrooms | Image: ©2foodtrippers
White Asparagus at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
White Asparagus | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Chicken Thigh at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Chicken Thigh with Spring Onion and Green Chili | Image: ©2foodtrippers
Char-Grilled Cacciovallo Thigh at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Char-Grilled Cacciocavallo Cheese | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We reached the zenith of our meal (as if we needed any more) with 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 at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Oyako-Don (Chicken & Egg on Rice) | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Dessert At Bird Land

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

Rice Pudding at Bird Land in Tokyo Japan
Rice Pudding with Strawberries | Image: ©2foodtrippers

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 Japanese food that is absolutely perfect.

Ginza Lights in Tokyo Japan
Ginza Lights | Image: ©2foodtrippers

That is what Bird Land does. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Birdland is located at Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chūō, Ginza, 4 Chome−2−15, 塚本素山ビル.

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About the Authors

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


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We self-funded our dinner at Bird Land.

Original Publication Date: April 28, 2013

Sumit Surai

Saturday 9th of August 2014

OMG! Still drooling over the pictures. I love Japanese food.

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