Ever since its opening, Yardbird has been clucking up quite the storm with its premium yakitori, friendly servers and down-to-earth vibe. With everyone from food bloggers to food critics giving it raving reviews, we finally gave up on our ‘no queuing policy’ and stepped in line to see if this chicken’s all fluff.
Yardbird exudes a cool New York vibe right from the start.
What it is: Yardbird is a yakitori specialist opened by the former head chef of Zuma, Matt Abergel. "No reservations. None." is written in bold on its business card, but there was neither a shortage of people nor an empty table in sight on a typical Saturday night. That said, be prepared to wait around for a table — we lucked out after just 30 minutes.
Atmosphere: Once in, we loved the New York-esque vibe that the servers brought to the place. Coming from all parts of the world, they spoke in a flurry of American, British and European English accents while briefing us on Yardbird’s simple menu. The restaurant features an open kitchen and uses a simple black and white colour palette to emphasise the simple, clean and sleek dining room.
Start off fresh with a fruit tomato salad drizzled with black vinegar.
Food: The menu is divided into three categories: ‘smaller’, ‘yakitori‘ and ‘bigger’ dishes. The friendly servers advised us to start with a few of the ‘smaller’ dishes, focus our efforts on the ‘yakitori’ and finish off with one or two ‘bigger’ dishes if we were still hungry.
Taking their advice, we started with a fruit tomato salad drizzled with black vinegar (HKD$110) to cleanse our palettes with fresh greens. Next, we had the grilled Maitake mushroom (HK$120) lightly seasoned with a dash of olive oil and sudachi (read: citrus) juice and a skewer of meatball with egg yolk and tare on the side.
Chew on this: Furikake and sesame rice cakes from Yardbird.
Our chicken was served in bits and pieces, literally, starting with the chicken thigh (HK$38) complemented with welsh onion and tare. We moved onto the chicken breast (HK$38) with a sushi-like serving of wasabi and soy sauce and then the chicken wings (HK$38), which were generously freckled with sea salt and shichimi spices.
Finishing up, we chose the Furikake and sesame rice cakes (HK$80) and the fried chicken with garlic and Kewpie (HK$140) from the ‘bigger’ side of the menu. The portions were generous and rightly filled us up to the brim with a blander combination of flavours but unmistakably fresh ingredients. From start to finish, we were impressed by Chef Abergel’s attention to detail and his focus on quality ingredients.
Kewpie, the Japanese mayonnaise, is the perfect dip for fried chicken.
Verdict: There’s no denying that Yardbird is premium yakitori and if you’re trying to save, this is not the place to go. Having said that, we absolutely loved everything about it – the atmosphere, the décor, the service and most of all, the food. You cannot put a price tag on freshness or creativity and Yardbird achieves all of the above while delivering the Japanese staple in a hip and funky way.
The Yardbird team are putting on an official "Taco Tuesday" on 6 March 2012 at Lyndhurst Terrace’s Shake ‘Em Buns (76 Wellington Street, Central), starting from 6pm. Only 300 tacos will be available, so you know what they say: the early bird gets the … taco!
Yardbird, 33-35 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2547 9273, www.yardbirdrestaurant.com
It’s all about travel, photography and food in Andy Yeo’s life and his monthly credit card bills lie testament to this. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Australia, Andy has returned to his hometown to capture the best that Asia has to offer. What good are weekends if not for short trips overseas to get your taste buds excited and memories well documented? His philosophy is to try everything at least once especially when it comes to food, after all, life’s too short to say no! Read more about Andy at www.misteryeo.com.