Last night I went to my favorite yakitori restaurant in Fountain Valley, CA called Shin-Sen-Gumi. I decided that I had to blog about it because it is a place I frequent regularly and has become my second home!
Yakitori (焼き鳥 or やきとり) gives it’s name to an optional rule in the Japanese version of Mahjong. Under the Yakitori rule, any player who has not won a hand at the end of a game pays a penalty or forfeit. A set of four special marker tiles (one each) are used to indicate each player’s status – these usually feature a cartoon image of a skewered bird.
Yakitor is typically made from chicken meat put on a bamboo skewer and barbequed over charcoal. It is usually barbequed with some salt, lemon juice or with tare sauce. Here, they serve many more body parts and different types of meat than just chicken. Last night, I ordered kobe beef, ox tongue (gyutan 牛タン), flap meat, liver (reba レバー), bacon wrapped tomato (I usually order the bacon wrapped asparagus), washu beef, gizzard (sunagimo 砂肝), heart (hatsu ハツ), special heart, pork belly (butabara 豚ばら), intestine, breast cartilage (nankotsu), bacon wrapped scallop, cartilage (nankotsu), tail (bonjiri ぼんじり) and my final dish – RUMP!!! For an even more authentic taste, mix the Yozu Koshu (green chili) with some soya sauce and vinegar (like the picture below) which will give your yakitori a tangy taste and a little tingle of spice to the tongue.
The skewers range in price from $1.50 to about $4.00 for the more extravagant and exotic meats. Pretty pricey right? The good news is if you come Monday and Tuesday it is happy hour for 50% off yakitori for the first 15 items on their menu. It does save a lot in the long run, especially if you plan on coming here often. I think what grabbed me from my first time eating here is that they are very traditional with the way the restaurant is run by yelling out their greetings altogether the moment you walk through the door, more yelling if you invite the chef for sake or beer, yelling everytime someone pays the bills, and the final yelling comes when they say goodbye and ask you to come again! The decor of the restaurant is simple and resembles a more “hole in the wall” feel, which just adds to the ambience.
Besides the Happy Hour on Monday and Tuesdays, every Wednesdays is Ladies Night and we females can get 50% off all desserts. As if that isn’t enough, on both Wednesday and Thursdays, if you buy one pitcher of beer you get one house sake free. Plus, all small house sakes go from being $7.00 to $4.00 and large sakes go from being $13.00 to $7.00.
For those of you who like ramen, Hakata Ramen is located next door and is conjoined to Robata & Yakitori but have separate kitchens. I have never eaten there but want to go one of these days to test out their ramen (which I heard was just as good as the yakitori side). Just so you know, they are having a Ramen Sale on February 27th and 28th of this month. I will probably go at that time too to get the $3.00 ramen. You cna pick your own different toppings and oil level as well.
The dinner really hit the spot for me and I left still tasting the yakitori in my mouth the rest of the evening. Enjoy the following pictures of everything I ate last night and hope it will entice you to visit Shin-sen-Gumi as well.