Four Thousand Blog | 19th August 2013

Like all cities, Tokyo has a smell. Subtract the concrete-and-garbage aroma common to all metropolises, and Tokyo basically smells like yakitori: the smoky, tangy smell of sauce-drenched chicken skewers roasting over charcoal—it’s delicious, it’s intense, it’s what one end of Melbourne street smells like now that Bird’s Nest has opened.

Yakitori literally means “fried bird” but the working definition is basically “food on a stick”. Right now the menu features opening specials, mostly sets of six to eight skewers that arrive at your table as they’re cooked (perfect for sharing), and standard izakaya-style side dishes like Japanese cabbage and mayo, salad, and yaki onigiri (a fried rice ball glazed with yakitori sauce, crunchy and singed and totally delicious). Round it off with an Asahi nama biiru in a chilled stein and you are well into authentic Nihon territory.

Helping with that impression is the chorus of “Irasshaimase” as you walk in, and the wood-and-glass modern-Japanese design. Big tables and a bar wrapping around the open kitchen (red fans flapping under your nose! White charcoal smoke seeping into your clothes! This is the real deal) encourage communal dining and the food is just tricky enough to eat to make it an activity (hint: slide your bites off the skewer before you poke a hole in the side of your face).

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