Ayamu-Ya is a yakitori restaurant located in Fukushima Ward, Osaka. While yakitori is a casual meal that anyone can enjoy, this restaurant doesn’t skimp; it’s been well received for it’s high standards, giving it Michelin stars eight years in a row.
The owner is passionate and particular about his yakitori and we got the opportunity to film three of his dishes: muneniku, seseri and tsukune.
Firstly, when I prepare this dish, I always wear a work glove on my left hand. This is for two reasons. The meat is vulnerable to heat, so wearing gloves prevents body heat from transferring to it. It changes how the meat is prepared.
The other reason is for friction; chicken meat is covered in fat so it can get slippery. I change the glove when it gets dirty so I keep several ready at hand.
This is the breast meat from a whole chicken this morning. We use Tamba Chicken here.
We get them delivered pretty much everyday. We dress the whole chicken and start preparing it like this. However, we don’t necessarily serve the chicken the same day it was dressed.
They tend to taste better after they’ve been put into a skewer and left aside for a while before grilling. Depending on the meat, we tend to serve it after it’s been stored for one or two days.
I cut them up while adjusting the size. I try to shape them into inverted triangles when I put them into skewers, with the bigger pieces on the top and the smaller pieces in the bottom. This is because when they are being grilled, the top part (the center of the net), tends to be hotter than the lower part. I try ensure that each skewer is grilled uniformly.
While this is a yakitori shop, this seseri is the most popular item for A la carte order.
Seseri comes from the word “seseru” in Japanese, meaning to cut up something into tiny pieces. It’s made from finely chopped chicken neck. Different regions can have different names for this dish.
First I’ll be separating the parts that would be more delicious on a skewer from the parts that would be minced for the meatballs.
The more solid parts go into the skewer, and everything else becomes minced. The bloody portions are thrown away.
I’m putting in the meat into the skewers. I shape it by folding and twisting the meat. Here, we try to put in three skewers worth of meat into one skewer and wind it firmly. It prevents the meat juices from escaping and makes the ingredients taste more delicious. The dish has plenty of volume, giving customers a high level of satisfaction.
Here, the minced meat is all homemade. Most restaurants tend to buy minced meat directly from the butcher, but for me, I don’t like not knowing when it was prepared, or what kind of meat was used for it. That’s why I make it myself. Tsukune is a popular item in yakitori restaurants, so I don’t want to be lazy about it.
There are very few places that make homemade tsukune. I would guess about 5% or so. I also think that there are very few yakitori shops that even have this equipment.
Depending on the state of the meat, I sometimes add a bit of onion, but usually avoid using secondary ingredients here. After dressing the chicken, the leftover meat like the skin, neck, and wings are minced to make tsukune.
Since the quality of the meat tends to differ according to the season, we make slight changes to the formulation. For example, in winter, the meat has some grease, but in summer it doesn’t, so I adjust by putting in more greasy parts like the skin.
Finally, I add some salt and pepper and mix it in.
If I mix it too much, the grease starts breaking down, so the key is to do it gently.
The minced meat is ready and stored. It’s made into a ball and grilled when there’s an order.
Here, we use binchotan charcoal from Kishu.
While there is binchotan charcoal from overseas and Japan, the charcoal from Kishu is overwhelmingly great.
Even though it’s expensive, the quality is so different.
It’s difficult to express, but the heat generation and heat flow is far superior to other types of charcoal.
The yakitori here can’t be made without binchotan from Kishu. We have to buy it regardless of how expensive it is.
Kusunoki-Bld. 1F, 5-17-39, Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka
1 minute walk from Fukushima Station