Yakitori is a traditional Japanese meal that is becoming trendy to make at home. You don’t need to be a yakitori master to impress your guests, but you are going to need a yakitori grill. In this post, we explore what is yakitori and how to choose the best yakitori grills.
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What Is Yakitori?
We’ve traveled to Japan several times and love the food! One of our favorite things to do is to eat yakitori at a tiny little bar. Cold beer and barbecued meats – what could be better?
Yakitori is a Japanese type of grilled and skewered chicken. Preparing this Japanese cuisine involves skewering the meat with a Kushi, a skewer made from bamboo, wood, or steel. The meat is then grilled over an open fire. The traditional yakitori grill uses charcoal to grill the meat.
You can use a tare sauce or salt to season the meat during the preparation while cooking, and after cooking. Across Japan, in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, you’ll easily find yakitori-style restaurants. These Japanese restaurants are the best places to begin your yakitori experience.
Our Recommendations For The Best Yakitori Grill
What Is A Yakitori Grill?
The traditional yakitori grill is typically made from clay, is rectangular, and just a few inches deep. It is also small, allowing users to cook with small skewers, which takes only a few minutes to grill.
The traditional yakitori grill also uses white Japanese charcoal known as binchotan. This is why you’ll often hear them referred to as binchotan grills. The heat source for the grills burns very clean and does not add any flavor to the chicken. A conventional grill uses other forms of charcoal since binchotan is not always available.
The grill burns with low heat, around 200 degrees Fahrenheit; thus, the meat cooks slowly. A chef constantly rotates the meat, allowing it to have little contact with the fire.
Robatayaki Versus Yakitori
Yakitori is a simple Japanese grilling technique that serves mainly chicken. Vegetables are not included in yakitori, though you may add a dipping source made from soy sauce and rice wine to give the chicken some flavor.
On the other hand, robatayaki is more challenging and is the ultimate grilling experience. Robatayaki serves a wide variety of meats and vegetables.
The Best Yakitori Grills For 2023
With yakitori gaining popularity, there are so many Japanese yakitori grills. Choosing the right grill can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to Japanese grills. We have made it easier for you by coming up with a list of the best yakitori grills.
The Hitachiya is a Japanese charcoal grill with excellent thermal insulation and durability. The grill has a metal strip across that makes it strong. It measures 21 by 9 by 7.8 inches and weighs 24 pounds.
By using charcoal, the grill can achieve the traditional taste and aroma of the yatokiri. The grill requires area and vents to control airflow. In addition, you can use the grill for cooking anything though it is ideal for chicken, steak, pork, fish, and veggies.
The Kinka charcoal yakitori grill has a container that holds charcoal and a grill above it. The grill also has adjustable vents which control the heat. In addition, the grill is durable and does not contain any moving parts that can break.
This Japanese BBQ grill is large, measuring 32.28 by 10.63 by 9.45 inches, and is ideal for grilling meat for five to seven people. The grill does not contain dangerous liquid fuels like the convectional grills, allowing it to offer fantastic yakitori grilling results.
The Hitachiya Konro is a Japanese charcoal grill ideal for yakiniku and robatayaki cuisine. The Japanese yakitori grill is small and portable, only measuring 12.5 by 8 by 7.8 inches. The grill’s small size only requires a small area and vents to control airflow.
One hundred percent diatomaceous brick is used in making the grill. The bricks are natural insulators, and they will keep the charcoal burning for longer.
The Bincho is a 24-inch Robata grill made of stainless steel and features double walls. The grill bends for seamless welds, a clean appearance, and rigid construction. A heavy and thick aluminum removable part provides extra insulation, allowing the outer ox to remain cool.
Two adjustable windows allow for adequate airflow and help control the hot charcoal to provide you with the ideal temperature. Since the grill uses charcoal, it is also suitable for robatayaki cuisine.
The Homping grill is the ultimate portable Japanese charcoal grill. The grill comes with a safety tool and a carrying case. The grilling surface has a diameter of 11.5 inches, and the grill weighs only 8.5 pounds.
The grill produces less smoke and features a battery-operated fan for air and heat control. It is also very economical and uses eight charcoal briquettes every hour.
The award-winning design is easy to ignite and clean.
This charcoal yakitori grill measures 32 by 8 by 7 inches. It also includes a stand that raises the height from seven to 34 inches. It is also safe to use and has rounded edges to prevent cuts. Its exterior and interior are made of heavy-duty stainless steel.
This Japanese BBQ grill has easy-to-adjust vents on both sides, which allow you to create even air circulation and control heat intensity. The long rectangular design will enable you to use yakitori sticks. The stainless steel body makes it light and portable.
This is a great option for a large yakitori grill and is perfect for entertaining.
Binchotan is a small Japanese yakitori grill measuring 9.65 by 10.24 by 7.87 inches and weighing 9.5 pounds. This grill is made of alloy steel with a diatomaceous earth finish.
Despite its small size, the Binchotan Grill features a good surface area for cooking. Its light weight makes the grill a more portable option. Binchotan’s grill’s perfect design deflects heat, making it incredibly hot with just a little amount of charcoal.
The grill comes with a bare wire mesh, though a heavy-duty mesh is also available. If you are looking for BBQ grills for two to four people, this is the one for you.
The Fire Sense is a genuine Japanese BBQ grill. It is handmade using clay, thus heating evenly, producing a tender and juicer meal. This outdoor grill uses charcoal and is perfect for camping, picnics, and backyard grilling.
The grill measures 7 by 10 by 18 inches and has specifically been designed as a tabletop grill. This give plenty of surface area to cook yakitori on. The Frie Sense Japanese grill comes with a chrome cooking grill, a charcoal grate, and a stand fitted with handles.
What Features To Look For In A Yakitori Grill
The number of people you are cooking for and the space available will determine the size of your grill. If you enjoy having people around, then a large-sized grill would be ideal. Needless to say, the larger the charcoal grill, the larger the cooking area. This is ideal for large families and people who entertain often.
Indoor Vs. Outdoor
If you love camping, outdoor parties, and picnics, then an outdoor yakitori grill is a great choice. However, if you are an indoor person, then consider an indoor grill. However, with indoor grills, keep in mind that using a charcoal grill is not advisable due to the fire hazard an open flame presents.
Though the traditional yakitori grill was made from clay, convectional grills can be made from other materials such as stainless steel. A stainless steel yakitori grill will be light hence easy to transport. A ceramic grill, on the other hand, will be heavier.
Deciding on which type of material is right for you comes down to personal preference. Stainless steel charcoal grills while light are durable. As previously mentioned, ceramic charcoal grills are heavy and difficult to move around. The ceramic coating makes cleaning up much quicker and easier.
Tabletop Vs. Legs
Most yakitori grills tend to be tabletop, although there are some standing options.
A tabletop grill is designed to be used on a table, unlike a grill with legs, which can stand independently. A grill with legs is ideal for outdoor because it can stand on its own.
Yakitori is a popular dish, and a lot of chefs are being creative with this traditional cuisine. However, you can prepare and enjoy this cuisine grilled over charcoal if you have a yakitori grill at home.
How To Use A Yakitori Grill
If you are a beginner and want to make your own yakitori at home, there are some steps you need to take to make the most of your new grill. Yakitori grilling at home can be just as fun as dining out.
If you are grilling with a wire net, give it a few minutes to preheat over the charcoals before placing the skewers on top. This allows reduces the chances of the ingredients and meat being sticky to the wire net. You might want to add enough charcoal right from the start because adding fresh charcoal while cooking can cause smoke that contains carbon monoxide.
Most restaurants use a binchotan grill and charcoal because it lasts longer, but your regular charcoal will do the work if you can’t find this special type since you are not going to be grilling for long.
To prepare the yakitori, you will need some food ingredients such as chicken, gizzards, and boneless thigh meat. For seasoning, use tamari or soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic cloves, fresh ginger, or any other ingredient that works well for you.
To prepare the food, follow these steps.
Cut the chicken breast into small pieces and place it in a dish. Remember, all chicken, including grilled chicken need to be thoroughly cooked to avoid salmonella.
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and cook for 6-7 minutes, till it gets thickened. You can also portion it into 2 places and rub one part on the grilled chicken or desired meat you want to use. The other portion can be used to serve it.
You can try the Japanese style grill by getting your wooden bamboo skewers which must have been soaked in water for an hour. Then carefully thread the chicken pieces on the skewers and broil, and turn it so both sides can cook perfectly. A gizzard will take 10 minutes to cook, a liver will take 3 minutes, and grilled chicken thighs for 6 minutes.
You need to be careful while using the Japanese tabletop charcoal grill as it can be harmful when you burn them in a less ventilated environment. In this regard, the Japanese coal grill must be set and used outside.
When you are done using the grill, it is best you wait for the coals to burn out fully. You are also advised not to pour water directly on the grill. In case there is accidental water contact with the grill, dry well before storing for next use.
You might be wondering if are you not going to wash the grill, well you can, but with special ingredients and steps listed below.
Items needed are a long-handled wire brush, a bucket of water, vinegar, or baking soda.
Step By Step Clean Up
The first step is to clean the Japanese charcoal grill by heating it for like 20 minutes so that any stuck-on food items sing from the hot temperature that comes with heating. Then dip the grill into a bucket of warm soapy water as this will scrub off the carbon stuck on the grates.
The second step is to wash carefully with a soft sponge and a knife can also be employed to scrap off hard carbon and meats that can still be spotted.
The next step is to add a mixture of vinegar and baking soda and rinse off with enough water. The vinegar and soda solution will reduce rusting.
The last and final step is to use a clean and dry towel to wipe and dry off the surfaces. You can then place it in the sun for 10-20 minutes after which you can store it back for your net use.
FAQs – Japanese Yakitori Grills
Traditionally a yakitori grill is used to cook meat including beef, pork, and especially chicken over hot charcoal. The secret to cooking with a yakitori grill is the dripping. The drippings from the meat hit the hot charcoal creating smoke infused with flavors. This smoke flows back up into the cooking meat, adding more flavor.
Yes. Even in Japan, yakitori grills are used inside. Across the country, restaurants specialize in yakitori-style cooking. For home use, there are traditional charcoal-fueled yakitori grills as well as electric yakitori grills.
Traditionally, the kind of charcoal used for yakitori is called binchō-tan. Translated, binchō-tan means white charcoal. The wood itself is generally oak, a hardwood, that cooks longer and provides good heat for cooking.
There is a popular express you’ll here across many parts of Asia; “same, same but different”. Two things that are essentially the same but slightly different. This expression applies to yakitori and teriyaki. They are essentially the same sauce, with minor differences. Yakitori is only used on chicken whereas teriyaki is used on beef, seafood, and vegetables.
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