109 - Grilled Pub Grub-Japanese Style

By Mary Luz Mejia

In North America, work-weary masses congregate at their local pub for a pint and some comfort food before heading home to recharge for the next day.

In Japan, "salary men" do the same, only they hit the nearest yakitori-ya (grille type establishments or street stalls) where the food is quickly prepared and expressly made to pair with alcohol. There, the siren-call of aromatic smoke wafting off a hot grill beckons those on the lookout for a snack before the long train ride home.

Chicken ball on skewersSizzling on the grill, you'll likely find two of the most popular Japanese pub grub choices: the simple yet satisfying yakitori and kushiyaki. The former is always skewered chicken grilled to perfection, while the latter can encompass vegetables and other meats. Both are served with either sea salt (shio) or a slightly sweet, soy-based glaze (tare).

If you're thinking this doesn't sound like anything special -- think again. From tender beef and crisp asparagus kushiyaki to the tsukune (chicken meatball) yakitori, the flavours are mild and marvellous and the bite-sized nature of these skewers enables you to traverse the variety offered without overloading.

For those of us on this side of the Pacific, Sakawaya Japanese Bistro on the eastern edge of the Danforth hub, enables us to sample what so many salary men in Japan crave.

Sakawaya Japanese Bistro
867 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario