When I visited: February 2018
Location: Tokyo (Ginza)
Rating in the Michelin Guide: 1 star
What to wear: Men – jeans or nice trousers and a shirt; women – jeans and a smart top or a smart dress
Ambience: Buzzy, businesslike
Course of the meal: Liver pâté of Okukuji Shamo chicken
If I could change one thing: Fewer skewers to leave more room for the rice dish
Bird Land is a traditional and well-regarded yakitori restaurant in the Ginza district of Tokyo, which is typically fairly hard to find (if you don’t speak or read Japanese) and you get to sit at the counter and watch the chefs at work. There is a buzzy atmosphere, with some groups and some people on their own, and unusually for a Japanese restaurant, a lot of the guests ordered champagne. As the name suggests, there is a heavy focus on chicken dishes.
The staff spoke English well but were pretty businesslike, with not much attention paid to us at the start or end of the meal.
We chose some sake to drink which went well with all the dishes. There were only set menus available and ours began with a starter of vinegar, pickled chicken skin and pickled vegetables and jellied gizzard. Next came liver pâté of Okukuji Shamo Chicken – one of the best courses – then Okukuji Shamo chicken, grilled with apricot sauce.
There were 8 kinds of ‘assorted yakitori skewers’, including chicken “oysters” (a rare part of the thigh), and wings (which were full of flavour). There was also a tofu course and a small tomato salad for palate cleansers, served before grilled chicken teriyaki with Japanese sansho pepper and grilled cheese (caciocavallo from Yoshida Farm in the Okayama Prefecture). There was also a chicken and egg rice bowl made from the meat, eggs and broth of Okukuji Shamo chicken, which was delicious but hard to fit in after all the skewers.
The dessert was made from Okukuji Shamo eggs and was creme caramel and Turkish rice pudding.