The other night, I set out to eat a bunch of things that most people wouldn’t. Why? First, to satisfy my curiosity..I couldn’t be certain of a similar result for my appetite. And second, to make my friend Nick Chen (of MyInnerFatty and Serious Eats fame) proud. You see I’ve been reading Nick’s site for some time, and as much as I like his posts about burgers, donuts, and giant-ass burritos, I’ve always been most envious of the “other stuff” he was eating. So imagine my excitement when I found out San Diego was home to a place that specializes in skewering and grilling stuff that most people throw out. That place - Yakitori Yakyudori.
Of course I needed an offal-loving dining companion to join me, so I
called yelled into the adjacent room, to tell the Mooms man that we were going to grab some skewered ish. We made reservations for 7:30, though they probably weren’t needed. Yakitori Yakyudori is a very casual spot and seats turn over quickly. Our only reason for calling in was to make sure we wouldn’t be slowed down by a full house.
We were seated right away and got straight to ordering. The items started coming out mere minutes after our waitress walked away. We started with the grilled squid tentacles (Geso) pictured at the top of the page. This was some of the chewiest I’ve had, somewhat tough. I enjoyed the texture and accompanying sauce, but would have been put off if I was expecting a more delicate chew.
On special for the night was chicken vein. The skewered vein was very cartilaginous but tender enough to be taken down. This was another one that required some chewing but the texture and sweeter accompanying sauce made it pleasant overall.
This was one of the items I was most looking forward to and I wasn’t let down. It tasted more or less like a grilled sardine, but taste was actually secondary to being able to eat the body in it’s entirety.
The heart was one of the more basic pieces, I liked it and would order again – but it wasn’t particularly memorable. The beef tongue on the other hand was a stand out. Simply seasoned and seared on the outside before giving way to a beefy, fatty flavor – one of my favorites.
Gizzard was awesome, I would describe it as crunchy dark meat and leave it at that. Definitely a must try for offal fans.
Next up was another special for the evening, Whelk Sashimi. Mooms wasn’t much of a fan but I really enjoyed it. If you’ve had clam sashimi, it’s a similar light, almost buttery flavor – with a a much rougher texture. There’s an actual crunch as you bite down into the piece.
I’m a huge fan of quail eggs, and these were some of the best I’ve had, all of the yolk were at a perfect point between soft and hard boiled and seemed disproportionately large for eggs themselves. Awesome.
What came described as Pork Toro was as you may have guessed, fatty pork. It was a bit leaner than traditional pork belly, with more of a chew but had a similar porcine bacon flavor.
If beef tongue was the standout, chicken liver was the surprise of the evening. Both Mooms and I liked this one a lot better than expected. There was definitely the traditional gamy-tinge that would be expected from liver, but it was much more restrained than a piece of beef liver. I liked the texture even more – a slight crunch on the outside but I’d liken the interior to a gritty pâté.
At this point, we decided to leave a few items for our next visit. It’s not that we couldn’t keep going, each skewer was only holds about an ounce of meat at most, and remember who I was dining with. They have a few desserts on offer, but wierd skewered stuff is what we were visiting for. We left the sweet stuff to one of our go to froyo spots down the street – but that’s for another time.
Most skewers cost around the $3-4 dollar mark, which makes Yakitori Yakyudori a great place to sample a ton of items without breaking the bank. The Mooms and I are definitely fans, but we’re not the only ones.