As you may already know, I love Japanese food. I decided to try Yakitori 39 in Teaneck Friday night. Yakitori are grilled chicken skewers made from bite sized pieces of meat from all different parts of the chicken like the thigh, skin, breast, liver and other innards. It’s usually made to order and cooked over charcoal. I’m all about tasty meat skewers and a cold beer, but I usually have to go to New York City for good yakitori. Not anymore! I’ve passed this place several times, but never stopped by until now.
The parking lot is small, so I parked on a nearby residential street. I walked in at about 7pm and grabbed a seat at the counter. I heard this place can get very crowded, but there were plenty of seats. They take reservations as well.
The menu offers various small plates, appetizers, salads, sashimi, and a few rice bowls. The specials included squid and octopus tempura, lamb belly, gizzard skin, and ramen. I wanted to try several items, but stuck to the yakitori offerings of free range chicken, beef, pork, and vegetables.
The waitress handed me warm towel long with the menu and list of specials. They also offer a decent selection of sake. I was in the mood for beer and ordered a Asahi Super Dry draft. It was priced at $7.50/glass and the pitcher goes for $28. Other beers were priced at $11-$13/glass. Pretty steep, but I didn’t mind. I took a sip and began looking over the food menu.
I started off with four skewers. The waitress asked if I would like a soy-based sauce or salt on them. I asked her which was better and she suggested going with just salt. Okay, I’ll do just that.
The bacon wrapped asparagus (asuparabēkon) came out first.
The asparagus was cooked perfectly and the bacon was still a little soft, but not chewy. It added a smoky flavor. I liked it.
The next three skewers came out on one plate – the chicken skin, chicken thigh & scallion, and Berkshire pork belly. Although chicken may be the most popular protein when it comes to yakitori, there are many non-poultry items as well.
Butabara is pork belly. Berkshire pork is very popular in Japan. It’s a heritage breed of pig, which was discovered over 300 years ago in Berkshire County, United Kingdom. Berkshire pork is renowned for its richness, marbling, juiciness, tenderness and depth of flavor. It’s considered the Kobe beef of pork by many.
The pork belly was okay. It was a bit leaner than expected, but still good. I would like to try the beef belly next time, or maybe I should have tried the lamb belly special.
Negima is one of the most popular types of yakitori and consists of pieces of chicken, usually thigh meat, skewered with pieces of scallion in between. It was very good. The chicken was tender and juicy. The scallions added nice flavor to every bite. I would get this again.
Torikawa, sometimes called just kawa, are strips of fatty chicken skin. It was rich and salty as expected. It was a bit too soft though. I would have liked it crispier, much crispier. I recommend ordering it well done.
I also decided to try a side of potato salad. Yoshoku cuisine is Western food done Japanese-style. I really like Japanese potato salad. It must be the mayo which is a little creamier and sweeter than American mayonnaise. I probably should have ordered this in the beginning to enjoy with the other skewers, but better late than never. It was a couple small scoops of creamy goodness.
I had to try a couple more items. I couldn’t decide between the chicken clavicle and chicken rib. I went with the chicken rib. It was good. Leaner white meat, but still tender.
I wanted to try more, I really did, but I know I’ll be coming back. The skewers were pretty tasty and the waitresses were very nice. I have not had good yakitori since my dinner at Torishin a couple years ago, so I’m glad I finally came here. It’s good to know a decent yakitori restaurant is nearby in Jersey.
254 Degraw Ave
Teaneck, NJ 07666