Went for a quick trip to Northbridge Plaza's Tokyo Mart to stock up on some foodstuff, and decided to do yakitori for supper. I actually wanted to make the sauce from scratch, but after finding out that it's twice as troublesome as making teriyaki sauce, I decided not to. Well, not then, really - I actually found this amazingly authentic yakitori sauce recipe from this Japanese food blogger. I had no idea that making yakitori sauce involves using weird ingredients such as chicken feet and dried chilli! (shockingly Sichuan-esque for a Japanese sauce)!
I don't have a hibachi or anything sophisticated to grill the yakitori, so I just bought this disposable household-type fish griller thingy (also from Tokyo Mart). Ideally, yakitori should be grilled over charcoal, but I couldn't bother. However, let me tell you this: the most common mistake non-Japanese make when making yakitori is to grill them on conventional BBQ, grill pan, or even pop them inside the oven. This just wouldn't do. Yakitori has to be grilled over charcoal or open fire to achieve the desired color and aroma.
There are no exact types of meat / vegetables to use when making yakitori, but chicken works best (it is, after all, yakiTORI, 'tori' means chicken). You can add some vegetables to pimp up your yakitori. The most traditional choice is negi (spring onion / leek), but asparagus works, too. I used asparagus because I have lots of leftover. Also, make sure that you choose green-colored vegetables, because that fulfils the traditional color scheme of yakitori.
I used ready-made yakitori sauce from Ebara, which is IMO the best one out there. It's nice and thick, and you don't even have to marinate the meat. Seriously. Just dip the yakitori in the sauce, grill it straight away, and baste ocassionally with brush. Easy peasy.
Japanese and avid Japanophiles might notice that I use the half-wide teppou kushi ('gun' skewer) for my yakitori. This type of skewer is more commonly used for dango (dumplings) and grilled tofu. A thousand apologies for doing this - but since it's nice and ornate, I thought there's no harm on using them. Yakitori is traditionally served using normal round bamboo skewers.
Anyway, I'm quite satisfied with the results, and maybe next time I'll try some more challenging ingredients such as enoki wrapped in beef or chicken skin.
...and now for something totally different...
I'm very excited to announce that there's yet another reason to visit Jakarta. Well, for me, at least. LOL. Japanese tonkatsu restaurant "Katsu-sei" has just opened for business in Jakarta's vast & glittering Grand Indonesia Shopping Town (GIST) on Christmas day. This is indeed a good news for foodies in Jakarta, since Jakarta really needs an authentic tonkatsu-ya. Speaking of authenticity, this place is pretty much as authentic as it gets in Jakarta - it's a branch of the renowned Katsu-sei restaurant in Utsunomiya city in Tochigi prefecture (they've only got 2 restaurants in Japan, both in Utsunomiya city). Cla, moo moo and I are such HUGE tonkatsu enthusiasts, so I really can't wait to go back to Jakarta next month and check this place out.
The entrance looks quite dramatic, in keeping with the glamorous interior scheme of GIST. It is, after all, located inside Indonesia's most luxurious shopping center. Photo credit goes to VRS from Skyscrapercity forum.
Newspaper scan from Miyashoku's website. Miyashoku is the F&B company that owns Katsusei, among many others. The headline reads "Katsusei tonkatsu restaurant opening - primarily targetting Japanese customers". Hm, weird. Granted, there are lots of Japanese expats in Jakarta, but I wonder why they don't prioritize local customers. (does this mean that they serve non-halal items as well? Anyway, in the end of the day, it IS weird to open a tonkatsu-ya which doesn't serve pork!)
Katsu-sei Jakarta has no website yet, but here's their Japanese website: