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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Yakitori Jin, Haberfield

Asparagus wrapped in bacon at Yakitori Jin in Haberfield Sydney

Sydney's newest yakitori joint has just opened in Little Italy. You read that right. And judging by the dinner crowds midweek, Haberfield locals can't get enough of it. Yakitori Jin is heaving when we visit on a Wednesday night, crowded with couples, families and Japanese ex-pats.

Dining room inside Yakitori Jin in Haberfield Sydney
Dining room inside Yakitori Jin

The decor is just part of the charm, from the traditional noren curtain hanging at the entrance to the long and narrow counter that runs the length of the open kitchen. Tiny tables cling to the edge of one wall. Expect Tokyo levels of personal space here, as well as a rousing "irrashaimase" welcome when you first enter the room.

You're best off dining here in groups of two or three. There's only one large table at the very front that seats six. Solo diners are guaranteed a view of all the action by pulling up a seat at the bar.

Edible map of a chicken at Yakitori Jin in Haberfield Sydney
Pictorial guide to eating a chicken 

The emphasis here is on yakitori or grilled (yaki) chicken (tori). And we're not just talking chicken fillets but every part of the chicken, offal included. A helpful pictorial guide on the wall will help you locate exactly which part of the chicken you're eating.

Cabbage salad with hijiki black seaweed at Yakitori Jin in Haberfield Sydney
Complimentary fresh cabbage marinated in shio konbu and sesame oil with hijiki black seaweed

A complimentary salad of fresh cabbage with hijiki black seaweed is served to all patrons. This isn't just any slapdash salad but a crunch of crisp cabbage layered with deeply satisfying notes of umami.

Head chef Akihito Marui on the yakitori grill at Yakitori Jin in Haberfield Sydney
Head chef Akihito Marui on the yakitori grill

Head chef and co-owner, Osaka-born Akihito Marui, is the yakitori jin or yakitori man. He's on both yakitori grills all night, ordered directly from Higashiosaka in Japan. It's a mesmerising performance watching him move his fingers across a keyboard of skewers like a concert pianist.

Chicken skin skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Chicken skin skewers

The menu is broadly broken up into snacks, skewers and larger dishes containing rice and noodles. It's heartening to see there's been no "dumbing down" of the menu - these are dishes you'd find in any yakitori bar in Osaka. Even the kids menu is a simple offering of yakitori don, a bowl of rice with grilled chicken.

Enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon

Chicken thigh and breast with leek on skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Chicken thigh and breast with leek

Skewers include various chicken cuts, chicken innards, vegetables and a smattering of beef, pork and seafoood.

Dipping chicken skewers into tare yakitori sauce at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Dipping the chicken and leek skewers into tare yakitori sauce

For each chicken skewer you order, you'll have to decide whether you want it cooked with salt (shio) or yakitori sauce (tare). The tare skewers are cooked over charcoal, dunked in a metal vat of syrupy glaze and then returned to the coals for caramelisation.

Dashimaki tamago omelette at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Dashimaki tamago omelette with grated white radish $14

Start with dashimaki, a more savoury version of the tamagoyaki seen at sushi bars. The rolled omelette includes dashi stock, making for a wetter omelette. Watching the chef make these to order - an exercise in patience as each layer is cooked and rolled together - is like watching a ballet performance.

Grated mountain yam cooking on charcoal at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Grated mountain yam cooking over charcoal

If you're seeking gastronomic kicks, skip the salmon tataki with foie gras and truffle oil and order the grated mountain yam instead. This starchy tuber is notorious yet revered for its slimy stickiness, and is a treat not often found outside of Japan.

Tororo yaki grated mountain yam with cuttlefish and raw egg yolk at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tororo yaki $17
Grated mountain yam with cuttlefish legs, egg yolk and mayonnaise

Here it's cooked in a stone pot over charcoal with cuttlefish legs, garnished with a raw quail egg yolk, squiggles of mayonnaise and thin shreds of seaweed. The taste is entirely reminiscent of a takoyaki octopus ball. If you leave it a little before tucking in, you'll hit the jackpot of a crunchy layer at the bottom.

Momo yakitori chicken thigh skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Momo chicken thigh yakitori skewers $5 each

Go hard on the chicken skewers. It's what a yakitori bar is all about. On the side you can nurse a frosty mug of Asahi Super Dry (on tap) or journey your way through a drinks menu of sakes, shochu, whiskies and umeshu plum wines.

Momo negi shio chicken thigh with salted garlic sauce and shallot at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Momo negi shio $6
Chicken thigh with salted garlic sauce and shallot

Chicken thigh skewers are expectedly juicy. The negi shio version includes salted garlic sauce and a smattering of thinly chopped shallots.

Mune chicken breast skewers with salt at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Mune chicken breast skewers with salt $5 each

Sunazuri chicken gizzards at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Sunazuri chicken gizzards $4 each

We go to town on the chicken innards menu. Chicken gizzards are one of my favourites, exhibiting that much loved bouncy crunch.

Harami chicken outside skirt skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Harami chicken outside skirt $4 each

Harami is the outside skirt, a flavoursome cut that comes from the diaphragm muscle of the chicken.

Kimo chicken liver skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Kimo chicken livers $4 each

And the chicken livers are cooked perfectly, like mini parcels of pate on a stick.

Tsunagi chicken arteries with yakitori sauce at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tsunagi chicken arteries with yakitori sauce $4 each

While chicken arteries might sound intimidating at first, just do it. It's delicious.

Skewers of tsunagi chicken arteries with salt at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tsunagi chicken arteries with salt $4 each

Try it with yakitori sauce and salt for double the fun.

Cooking chicken skin over charcoal at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Chicken skin on the charcoal grill

They'd run out of chicken butts (tails) by the time we ordered, but there was plenty of chicken skin to go around.

Kawa chicken skin skewers at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Kawa chicken skin skewers $5 each

Squeeze over a little lemon and relish the supreme fattiness coupled with glorious charred bits on the edges.

Tebasaki grilled chicken wings at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tebasaki grilled chicken wing $5 each

And let's not forget the humble chicken wing. Sure you could order fried chicken (karaage) but the smokiness imparted to a charcoal grilled chicken wing is truly something else.

Grilling quail eggs and asparagus wrapped in bacon at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Asparagus wrapped in bacon on the grill alongside skewers of quail eggs

Fat loves charcoal which is why these asparagus spears wrapped up in blankets of bacon look so snug.

Charcoal barbecue asparagus wrapped in bacon at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Flames licking the skewers on the charcoal barbecue

Asparagus wrapped in pork at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Asparagus and pork $7

That fresh snap of asparagus coupled with rendered bacon is worth the price tag.

Wagyu beef (9+) kushiyaki skewer at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Wagyu beef (9+) kushiyaki $10

The wagyu beef skewer is at the baller end of town too, but each mouthful is a guaranteed 9+ grade of juicy marbling.

Grilled okra at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Grilled okra $4

Vegetable skewers include the humble toasting of bright green okra over coals...

Grilled eggplant skewer at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Grilled eggplant $4

and half moons of eggplant anointed with miso.

Shiitake mushroom stuffed with chicken at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Shiitake mushroom with chicken filling $7 each

The shiitake mushroom skewers are another highlight, each mushroom cap stuffed with seasoned chicken mince.

Adding a glaze to yaki onigiri rice balls at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Adding a glaze to onigiri rice balls 

Onigiri rice balls are a lunchtime staple in Japan but chuck one on the charcoal barbie and you've got yourself a whole new level of tastiness.

Yaki onigiri grilled rice ball at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Yaki onigiri grilled rice ball with rich chicken soup and meatballs $11

The yaki onigiri grilled rice ball isn't as smoky as others I've had elsewhere but there's an impressive level of golden brown toastiness to the surface. It's a little on the dry side too but that may be because it's served with a housemade chicken soup dotted with floating mini meatballs.

Tsukune meat ball with soft boiled egg at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tsukune meat ball with soft boiled egg $8.50

And the tsukune is a must-order. The seasoned chicken meat ball comes with a soft boiled egg. Burst the yolk and dunk your skewer into that buttery burst of sunshine.

Blowtorching cheese on tsukune meat balls at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Blowtorching cheese on tsukune meat balls

Want to level up? Get the tsukune meat ball with cheese.

If you get a seat in front of the yakitori grill like I did, you can watch Chef Marui wage a ferocious battle against fast dripping slices of melting cheese.

Tsukune meat ball with melted cheese at Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney
Tsukune meat ball with cheese $8.50

Sweet grilled chicken mince encased in molten cheese is as deliriously good as it sounds. A puddle of teriyaki sauce at the bottom will have you relishing that push-pull territory of sweet and savoury.

A little slice of Osaka in Sydney's inner west? No wonder inner westies have embraced it with fervour.

Noren curtain entrance to Yakitori Jin Japanese restaurant in Haberfield Sydney


Yakitori Jin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Yakitori Jin
101 Ramsay Street, Haberfield, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8057 2780

Opening hours
Lunch Saturday and Sunday 12pm-2.30pm (yakitori not available)
Dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5pm-10pm, Sunday 5pm-9.30pm

Booking by SMS is preferred
Dinner is in two sittings: 5pm-7pm or 7.15pm-9.15pm
Fully licensed. BYO wine only.


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/07/2017 12:44:00 am


7 Comments:

  • At 6/07/2017 9:54 am, Blogger Petra Becker said…

    This looks and sounds amazing, and it's close to home! Thanks for the Yakitori lesson (I'm a novis) and as always photographs that inspire to RUN OVER THERE NOW - AND IT'S NOT EVEN LUNCH TIME YET.

     
  • At 6/07/2017 10:10 am, Anonymous Bianca@forfoodssake said…

    Great to see some life being brought back to the former 'Italian hot spots'. Haberfield & Norton st were going through a dry spell of late. I can't wait to check out Yakitori Jin myself. The Tsukune in particular has my name ALL over it!

     
  • At 6/07/2017 12:34 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Lovw their kawa and cheese tsukune!

     
  • At 6/08/2017 11:47 am, Anonymous Lucy said…

    The baller end of town! 😂 Love your writing!

     
  • At 6/08/2017 6:45 pm, Blogger flapflap said…

    So evocative: "watching him move his fingers across a keyboard of skewers like a concert pianist". We've made a date for next week :)

     
  • At 6/10/2017 4:56 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Wow, this place looks like the real deal!

    PS Chicken fat all the way!

    xox Sarah

     
  • At 7/12/2017 1:55 pm, Anonymous sara | belly rumbles said…

    Loving the look of this place, seriously great yakitori on the menu, just like you find in Japan. Gizzards are my fave too :)

     

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