For the depth and delicate umami of chicken, Yakitori Ichimatsu tops the list, delivering culinary bliss through the sumptuous flavors of yakitori in a full-course dinner. Because of its straightforward chargrilled preparation, yakitori demands great-tasting quality ingredients and a chef’s skilled eye. The combination of this chef’s love for chicken, dedication to his art, and passion for delighting guests has elevated yakitori from food for the masses to a genre of its own.
Located near Osaka’s Kitashinchi nightlife district and the business town of Nakanoshima, Yakitori Ichimatsu puts a spell on chicken lovers. The modern chic exterior in black tones makes way for an interior with counter seating and a semi-private room where the charcoal grill takes center stage, so all can admire the skillful preparation. Chef Takeda’s career started with an ambitious goal of going independent after just one year of training. The restaurant he created then still operates, but his attention now is on Yakitori Ichimatsu, which began its days in Kitashinchi and moved to Nakanoshima eight years ago. Motivated by a desire to create more authentic yakitori, the move has meant a departure from the highly innovative yakitori cuisine served in the restaurant’s Kitashinchi days. Chef Takeda wanted to create a space that fostered guests’ relaxed enjoyment of his cuisine and allowed for closer communication between chef and guest, to share the stories of the various chicken parts and the best way to eat them. The formula is clearly a success, as Chef Takeda is now the proud recipient of a Michelin star.
The depth and delicate umami of chicken
Yakitori could be described as one of Japan’s national foods, alongside tempura and sushi. Loved by all and readily available, you might not consider yakitori a culinary must-do, but in terms of quality of ingredients, preparation, and service, Ichimatsu sets itself far apart from the izakaya yakitori experience. With an eye trained over three decades, Takeda has an innate ability to assess the chicken ingredients and wield his chargrilling skills. He pays close attention to skewering, charcoals, seasoning, doneness, the chargrilling process, and the order in which dishes are served.
A full dinner to savor every part of Hinai Jidori chicken, the course of 18 dishes features twelve to thirteen yakitori items complemented by a selection of dishes, from soups to sandwiches, to highlight Hinai Jidori’s incredible umami. It typically begins with a bite of ricotta cheese oden. The incredibly warming winter dish of oden involves a savory broth in which various foods are simmered for hours to soak up all the flavor. This particular dish steeps a morsel of ricotta cheese in chicken dashi seasoned with soy sauce. The delicious mouthful warms your tummy, readying it for the course to come.
Next is chicken rubbed with salt, pepper, and herbs to cure it in the same manner as prosciutto and then sliced thin for melt-in-the-mouth perfection. Another of the chef’s signature specialties sandwiches a generous helping of pâté made from chicken meat and skin flavored with garlic between thinly sliced bread.
Then the skewered deliciousness begins. The precious part of the upper thigh referred to as the “oyster” is charred to enhance its plump and juicy texture. A meatball made from chicken thigh, skin, cartilage, and mince is spicy and juicy, seasoned slightly differently every day as demanded by the chicken with black and sansho Japanese pepper. The key to a taste you have likely never experienced with a chicken wing is the skin-wrapping technique, which locks in flavor, and a method in which the skin is spritzed with junmaishu sake as it is crisped over charcoals. Other skewered delicacies include the freshest liver and gizzard, flesh from the neck and parson’s nose, and a skewer called chochin combining oviduct flesh with immature egg yolks, all determined by the deliveries each day.
Guests will be pleased to learn they can order extra skewers of their favorite items. But also know that the meal will be completed with a simple but profoundly satisfying grilled onigiri rice ball followed by a refreshing dessert like plum sherbet.
The chicken served at Yakitori Ichimatsu comes from pedigree Hinai Jidori hens from a producer in Akita Prefecture, visited by Takeda often. Having been raised in a clean environment for 180 days, the chicken has delicious pure-flavored fat and flesh with excellent texture. It has a rich umami but a very refreshing essence, which means you never grow tired of the flavor throughout the course. It is a chance to savor different parts and appreciate their unique textures and flavors. Yakitori depends entirely on ingredient quality, so if ever chicken arrives that does not meet his standards, Takeda contacts the producer to discuss, providing motivation to deliver an even better product to meet Ichimatsu’s needs. It is a relationship in which the producer and chef push each other to higher heights. The beverage list includes beer, wine, shochu, sake, and whisky. The chef recommends natural wine and champagne for their ability to accentuate the flavor of the chicken. A five-thousand-yen sake and wine pairing course is also available.
With cuisine like yakitori, the preparation must highlight and not interfere with the chicken. One crucial factor, therefore, is how the flesh is skewered. You cannot simply poke the skewer through; it requires carefully assessing the best way to arrange it and the best place to pierce based on the chicken part. At Yakitori Ichimatsu, the skin on thigh meat, for example, is pulled and spread over the plump flesh, resulting in crisp, aromatic skin that protects the juicy flesh within. The meatball is shaped loosely around the skewer without too much pressure on the meat. In every case, Chef Takeda skewers the ingredients to be neither too thick nor thin, so the morsels cook evenly and waft the wonderful aroma of charcoal.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000