Before we get to yakitori, a brief etymology lesson, grace of cls:
So we have yakiniku, yakitori, teppanyaki, and so on. But even though yakitori means grilled bird, it’s not just chicken–the term is used in general for charcoal grilling using skewers.
If you’re looking for strict yakitori, Kokekkoko is the place to go. Salted or with a sweet soy sauce, their chicken is fab–meatballs, liver, crispy skin, every last piece of the bird. Don’t miss the seasoned ground chicken appetizer. This place can hang with the best of Tokyo, swears ronnie_gaucho, who recommends calling for a reservation to get the VIP course.
But Torimatsu, a low-profile spot that’s part of a Japanese chain, is better, contends rameniac. It’s certainly a bit more refined. Go for dinner rather than lunch, because then everything is made to order.
Japanese salarymen flock to Shinsengumi, another chain whose branches have various specialties (ramen is also a fave), the Gardena and Fountain Valley branches have kick-ass yakitori.
Yakitori-ya also does justice to its name, with everything chicken and some duck bits, too. It’s not as affordable as it used to be, notes yinyangdi, but it’s worth every penny.
There’s more than yakitori at Sakura House, but you’d do well ordering anything grilled there, says goodetime, who worked there for years and still prefers it to the competition. The bar is a great place to sit and order skewers–it seats about 15, and there are 10 tables. Tomato-maki skewers and enoki-maki skewers are delicious, says Bon Vivant. One order equals one skewer (some restaurants do two), and costs about $2.50-4.25 per skewer.
Nanbankan, too, does more than yakitori–we’re probably talking more like kushiyaki here. You’ll see entire Japanese families here, four generations chowing down happily on their grilled meat. What more can we say?
Yakitori-ya [West LA]
11301 W. Olympic Blvd. Stuite 101, at Sawtelle, Los Angeles
Sakura House [Culver City-ish]
13362 W. Washington Blvd., at Glencoe, Los Angeles
Nanban-Kan Restaurant [West LA]
11330 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles