Tokyo Food Review – Hidden Kushi-yaki, Teki
I love getting local food advice from people who’ve lived in a city for a long time, because they know best where to scout for the best hidden foods. Like an elusive truffle, we found this little kushi-yaki (shop specializing in skewers cooked over a charcoal grill) through a local Tokyonist’s kind guidance.
Tucked away on the 4th floor of a narrow, nondescript building in the heart of Ginza, this little shop has only a small sign on the 1st floor and no other advertisement. The clientele is strictly by word-of-mouth referrals as the restaurant only has around 16 seats. Even on a Monday night, it was full house at this little kushi-yaki.
We walked into a small yet polished space accented in dark wood tones and leather, not the usual cheery, rustic fair of traditional skewer shops. There is an extensive wine list (and surprisingly, responsibly priced!) to accompany a rather simple menu. There are basically 3 options: 5, 8, or 10 skewers. What you are having depends on what is fresh that day, although house specialities such as their famous tsukune is always included. There is, of course, an option to order additional skewers after the set is completed.
At our friend’s suggestion, we decided on the 8 skewers option and ordered a bottle of Italian wine to start.
First to arrive was a chicken breast skewer with peppers, topped with diced anchovies. There are apparently a stringent quality grading system in Japan for chicken, and this chicken breast (sasami) was of the highest grade. It was tender and incredible moist with not a hint of stringiness. I liked the hit of briny saltiness from the anchovies.
Three kinds of flavoured salts are offered: spicy chili, lemon garlic, and lemongrass.
I’m pretty sure there was another skewer in between but I forgot to take a picture of it – oops! I was too excited about the tsukune that my mind must have jumped a synapse.
Tsukune is a minced chicken skewer that usually have bits of cartilage mixed inside, which I am not a fan off. I hate crunching on unexpected pieces of cartilage, it’s like finding sand in pasta vongole. However, the plump tsukune at Teki included no cartilage and, instead, was juicy and velvety. It was also the biggest tsukune I’ve seen thus far, and filled like a delicious chicken meat pocket with savoury juices, which makes biting into it dangerous business. We loved it so much we ordered extras!
Next, came a smoked buffalo mozzarella skewer – smokey, with a nice crust and a gooey hot cheesy center.
This next skewer was dynamite! Crispy charcoaled strips of bacon wrapped around a molten heart of creamy avocado – spectacular contrast in flavour and texture.
We had an intermission of chicken liver pate and crispy bread soldiers. It was good but I wanted to get back to the skewers!
I’m not a crazy innards fan, but I do love chicken heart and liver. Below – skewers of bouncy chicken hearts, perfectly caramelized on the outside and flavourful on the inside.
I also love chicken liver, it has a finer texture than pork liver and doesn’t have a strong iron taste.
By this point, we were pretty full and buzzed, but this last skewer added another shot of adrenaline and was a great finale to a delicious dinner. Crispy strips of bacon wrapped around a piping hot tomato. The juicy tomato popped with sweet succulent goodness, and you just can’t complain about crispy bacon!
Verdict: A hidden gem. High-end, exclusive kushi-yaki in the heart of Ginza, and not overly priced for the location. I don’t remember exactly how much dinner was, but I believe the 8 piece skewer option was around HK$500 per person. Not bad for pricey Ginza. And going to this place really makes you seem like someone in the know!
Address: 4/F Ginza MC Building, 5-5-19 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tel: 03 3574 9415