Thursday, January 28, 2021

Chicken Lunch

I have not been back to Yardbird for years – not since they moved from their original location up near Soho to their much expanded space in Sheung Wan. Not that we didn’t like their food but waiting for 60 minutes plus for a table have never been our thing and there’s always choices elsewhere, but with them now accepting reservations in advance, we didn’t hesitate to make one to eat there this past weekend. 

Compared to their old venue with cramped space over 2 levels, their current home was huge and spacious, with the bar area in front with counter seats and high tables, plus booths and proper tables at the back along with the open kitchen, probably 3 times bigger than their previous set-up. I did love the cozy vibe of their original spot and glad they managed to retain most of those in a much more comfortable (and convenient) venue. Their menu stayed more or less the same over the years, with equal emphasis on food and drink and of course their specialty of yakitori with various chicken parts on offer. 

I didn’t recall having Yakitori for lunch before but I guess it’s now considered a normal thing to do. This time we decided to go for a few tried-and-true items to get reacquainted. KFC, or Korean Fried Cauliflower, has always been their signature dish. They were delivered right off the deep-fryer to us, with the chunks of cauliflower florets dipped in a crispy batter and basted with a sticky sweet and sour sauce with a slight kick of chilies. It resembles more like sweet and sour pork more so than fried chicken as the name might have suggested. It’s excellent and super tasty – I can pop that all day long and all that’s needed was slight squeeze of lime on top. 

Sweet Corn Tempura was another dish almost every table ordered so at the end we couldn’t resist but ordered one as well. The batter was light but well-seasoned and I love the corn sweet, and slightly crisp. And for both items they gave us the option of ordering a half-portion which we appreciated given we would like to have more variety of food. 

Katsu-sando was one of the “blackboard item” available as special dish. I do like their chicken cutlet deep-fried with a super crispy batter which lived up to their reputation of “one of the best katsu sandos” in town, but I personally would prefer a softer bread (like those Japanese milk bread and definitely not one that's more than a day-old) and slightly more toasted (instead of one just done off those regular pop-up toaster oven)

The rest were all yakitori dishes. Tsukune, or the minced chicken meatballs, didn’t disappoint with the flavorful meat grilled with a generous basting of sweet tare sauce and served with more sauce and egg yolk on the side. This is the version done with minimal amount of crunchy cartilage mixed in but it still have quite a nice bite. Knee was the one grilled with more crunchy bits and grilled with sake and garlic, thought I didn't quite get the sake taste to be honest and that's one I needed to reach out for the extra shichimi seasoning from a bottle for extra flavor. The oyster meat, coming from near the chicken leg, has a good delicate texture with a bit of the fatty skin attached, and I like the simple seasonings with just salt and lemon. Ventricles were another one I loved this afternoon with bouncy texture, grilled with tare and shichimi sprinkled on top. I could live with more sansho seasoning with the liver, but it’s perfectly cooked, crispy outside and soft inside. 

Yardbird started the trend of contemporary izakaya with focus on yakitori some 10 years ago in town and glad to see them still going strong. Now being able to go without the waiting line, we will definitely be back more often. 

More photos in my Flickr album:

When? January 17 2021
Where? Yardbird, G/F Winsome House, 154-158 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower)

P.S. Kudos to the team on getting their first Michelin star in the 2021 guide announced just yesterday! 

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