Yardbird | Hong Kong


Yardbird is a restaurant that has exceeded my expectations on every front. Similar to 22 Ships, there is a no reservations, no service charge policy so we had to get here at 6pm to avoid waiting in line. J was already here at 5:50pm and a line had started to form. I was just getting off the mtr at 6pm and had to rush to the restaurant as they wouldn't seat him without all of the party present. Luckily there were still seats by the time I got there and we chose to sit at the bar where we got to check out the bartenders in action. There are two levels for seating apparently and we chose to sit on the street level as it was brighter and more airy. Besides the bar, there were also several tables next to the ceiling to floor windows, which was great for people watching. 

As we sat down, we were handed a drinks menu first which was extensive from beer to whisky to cocktails and shochu. I ordered my favorite drink for eating Japanese food -umeshu - while my friend ordered beer. Before taking a look at the food menu, I already knew what I wanted to try based on previous reviews. Our waiter recommended that we start with 2-3 starters between the two of us, followed by 4-5 yakitori per person and finish off with rice. He also recommended that we order everything at one go as some popular items can run out.
There was also a special menu on the wall behind us but we stuck to the basics first since it was our first time here (as recommended by our waiter as well~). 
My umeshu (plum wine) was forgotten at first but after my inquiry, it came quickly on the rocks as requested. They had two kinds of umeshu - one was sake-based and one was shochu-based. I opted for the sake-based one as I wanted something that was sweeter. My umeshu was slightly sweet which was nicely balanced by the taste of the alcohol. It was very flavorful, which was a relief as I get some rather bland and watered down versions at other restaurants sometimes. 

J was satisfied with his beer as well, which was an ale by one of the microbreweries in Japan. It can be hard to find as most places carry only the big brands so it was nice that Yardbird carried these microbrewery beer as well. 

After our drinks arrive, our food came out one by one:

Sweet corn tempura (4/5) - the corn came in a shape of a ball and each piece of corn was held together loosely by the batter so it was easy to bite into it. I like that the batter was barely there so one can concentrate on the corn. The corn was juicy and flavorful, which was nice to warm up our palate and start off the night. 

Yakitori Wings (4.5/5) - the secret is in the shichimi! We were given a bottle of shichimi for our own seasoning if needed. The skin on the wings were nicely seared so it was crispy while the meat was juicy. The skin had been heavily seasoned with shichimi, which gave the wings a spicy flavor. I love to squeeze some lemon juice on top to help balance the spiciness and add some acidity to the flavor!

Yakitori Inner Thighs (3.5/5) - these were rather plain and disappointing compared to other dishes of the night. The meat was not as juicy as the oysters and the seasoning with only salt and pepper was not as flavorful as the wings with the shichimi. Would not get these next time. 

Yakitori Oyster (5/5) - these were AMAZING! Apparently this is some hip area of the chicken and who knew hips can taste this good! The skin was seared perfectly so it was nice and crispy. The crispy skin contrasted very nicely with the juicy and tender meat. It was like an explosion of chicken heaven with every bite, and one of the dishes we wouldn't mind having again and again. We thought that this was better than any of the yakitori we've had in Japan. 

Yakitori Meatball (5/5) - another scrumptious dish! The tsukune (meatball) came with tare sauce with an egg yolk that we were supposed to mix together. The tsukune was soft and tender with bits of onion mixed inside for texture. The tare sauce, which was like sweet soy sauce coupled with the yolk, complimented the flavor of the tsukune very well. I especially like the hint of yolk that was evident in each bite. J's commentary was that this was better than any that he's had in Japan, which is a bold statement coming from him as a Japan fanatic. 

KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) (5/5) - last dish of the night and we finished strong! These were highly recommended and no wonder! I'm not a fan of cauliflower (or any veggies for that matter), but now I am! Haha. I couldn't even tell that these were cauliflowers at first as they were covered in batter and thick sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The batter was thinly coated so it was not oily or thick. The sauce was very yummy as it was spicy hot yet sweet at the same time! The outside was slightly crunchy while the cauliflower was steamed so that provided for a nice contrast in texture. Don't forget about the lime provided as that enhances the flavor as well. I hear that this dish can be ordered with chicken as well so that's what I would want to try next time! 

Verdict - it was a very satisfying meal overall at Yardbird. The ambiance was hip and chic while the service was excellent. J said that the wait staff were having a pow wow right before the shop opened. The staff here clearly loves their job and it shows with the level of service. It's so important to have good training of the staff. Each waiter we spoke with were very knowledgeable on their drinks and food. Now this is what I'm talking about! We felt like we were back in New York again. 

33-35 Bridges Street SOHO, Sheung Wan
2547 9273

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