On my most recent trip to Japan, there were a few ‘must visit’ restaurants on my list. Fuku was one of them.
Visitors in Tokyo who want to try yakitori often go to Birdland, a restaurant that has one Michelin star. However after a lot of research, I found that a lot of foodies prefer Fuku as it is not as well known (no amongst locals though), has a more local feel, and is just as good, if not better than Birdland. Oh, and it’s cheaper.
So I dragged my brother there. It was a little hard to find, and after getting off at the station before we were supposed to, we wandered around for 15 minutes before finding the restaurant. Or at least we thought we found it – Fuku is a very discreet restaurant with the character for Fuku at the front.
Inside we went and as we made a booking, we got seats at the bar and could watch the chef at work. There was one main chef who did all the grilling and an apprentice who assisted the chef. I noticed that the chef directed the apprentice on how to cook various items, and the apprentice didn’t touch the grill unless directed by the chef. The chef carefully moved each stick around his little hibachi stove and managed to serve the entire restaurant from the hibachi. He timed each piece to be served in a timely manner.
However, the first thing I ordered was a salad. Sure, salad isn’t the first thing you’d think about ordering at a yakitori restaurant, but considering how much meat you can consume, I thought it would be a good idea to balance it a little. Lovely blanched broccoli, garden greens, juicy tomatoes and capsicum, a variety of mushrooms, crushed almonds (yum!), and a beautiful citrus dressing. I love Japanese salad dressing, and this did not disappoint. I was happy with my salad, and munched on it alongside with the teeny white fish that was provided as a ‘service’ (complementary).
A few of the highlights for me included the stereotypical neginiku (leek or shallot with chicken thigh). It was carefully seasoned with salt and pepper, and perfectly cooked – crispy skin on the outside, yet rediculously juicy meat on the inside. The chicken juice literally dripped down my hand. The BEST yakitori ever!
Another highlight for me was the grilled chicken wings (tebasaki). Now I’m a big fan of chicken wings. The meat isn’t plentiful, but the little morsels are always so flavoursome as they are against the bone. The skin on the chicken wings where super crispy and lightly salted, however they were moist. Oh that juice was delicious. Look at me get excited over grilled chicken juice – I sound crazy.
I also ordered grilled onigiri. I love a good grilled rice ball, and this was pretty good. The rice was mixed in with a little soy sauce and some fish flakes (not bonito). The rice ball was slightly crispy on the outside, but I do wish it was more crispy.
Now for the special course – raw chicken (tori wasa). Yes, you read correctly – raw chicken marinated in fresh wasabi and soy sauce. I don’t know about you, but I was always taught never to eat chicken that wasn’t cooked properly. So what about raw chicken??! Well, this chicken dish is a delicacy in Japan, made from completely free range chicken that roam freely in the countryside (so I’m informed). I was hesitant of course for obvious reasons, however it was actually really nice. The chicken was firm and chewy, and the wasabi went really well with the meat. It reminded me of very fresh white fish sashimi. And no tummy troubles followed.
We tried other dishes including chicken meatballs, Hokkaido potatoes, fresh shitake mushrooms, and grilled capsicum. All very nice, particularly the potatoes, which reminded me a little of dutch cream potatoes.
Fuku also has a great drinks menu, with a variety of sake and shochu options available. We asked for recommendations and went with their suggestions. Before we left the restaurant, the owner came out to greet us. Mr Suzuki asked us if we were the ones who booked our reservation from England (my brother booked it at my request before he left London). He was surprised that someone would book from so far away, however I told him that Fuku was quite well known amongst those who appreciate Japanese food – and this is how we knew to dine here. Mr Suzuki was so happy to hear this (in a modest Japanese kind of way).
For those who adore Yakitori like I do (seriously, who doesn’t like charcoal grilled anything on a stick??!), you’ll appreciate this restaurant. It’s a little less convenient to find, however completely worth it. Most of the grilled yakitori was around ¥200, and the salad and chicken sashimi was around ¥600. We enjoyed our experience so much that we came again the night before my brother flew home.
3-23-4 Nishihara Shibuya-ku