Japanese Bar Food
Today's stop has been on my list since before it opened. When I heard last year that the people behind Wasabi (a Chicago ramen favorite) were opening a Yakitori bar I was stoked. Japanese food is one of my big obsessions and while Chicagoland has some decent Japanese eating options there's plenty of room to grow. Yakitori is the Japanese way of grilling skewered meats. It's most popular as chicken where every piece of the bird is used but can also be used with pork, beef, vegetables, and more. Not to many's surprise Yakitori Boogytori would eventually open inside a strip mall in Arlington Heights which is where you'll find most Japanese stuff in Chicagoland. It's our little Osaka.
Japanese Yakitori in Arlington Heights
I had wanted to visit forever but time was never on my side. Since they dont open until 5p it was hard to find myself out there at that time. This was until recently when I was coming home from Wisconsin and the timing was just right to where there would be no traffic. So eventually it happened and I was sort of surprised to walk in one weekend night and be one of only a few people dining in. Maybe they do better business on weekdays when Japanese businessmen are in the area? Hopefully because my first experience here was pretty much what I was hoping for. I thought the Yakitori compared favorably to other spots across the country that I've tried. Though I'm hardly an expert.
A complimentary starter of cabbage with some sort of yuzu type sauce poured over it was perfect. It's a great example of why I love Japanese food and it's ability to get great flavors out of the simplest of dishes. The menu is basically a check off list of all the different pieces of Yakitori on offer. You just put how many of each one you want and they go to work on the grill. Speaking of which yakitori is grilled over Japanese Binchotan coals which burn longer, and cleaner, than regular coal thus it's preferred by many chefs. I started with a piece of ribeye beef before getting into the good stuff.
The steak was great. Grilled perfectly it leaked all sorts of steak juice onto the plate which was the sign of not being too dry. Often the case for an amateur place. Then when they got to the exotic chicken pieces I chose I knew these guys were serious about their craft. One by one they started to come out and one by one I put them down with a a big smile on my face. This is peak grilled meats.
Chicken Ventricle (Top) Silverskin (Bottom)
I forget exactly which pieces I chose but the key is to order the stuff you rarely see. Pass on the thigh meat and go straight to the ventricle, skin, tail, and so on. That's what I always do and never is it not the right move. They cook each piece to where it's crispy on the outside but the texture on the inside remains in place. It might be a bit different at first as far as that texture goes but once you taste each piece you'll wonder why anyone would consider throwing the random parts out. Stupid Americans.
Chicken Skin Close Up
My favorite piece of chicken yakitori is the tail meat. If you see this get it. Problem is they don't always have everything as there's only so many pieces of each. I guess the place being mostly empty worked to my benefit because they had all the good stuff on my visits. The tail is crispy and full of flavor. It's not as exotic tasting (or as chewy) as say the ventricle so even a non adventurous eater should enjoy that part. It's a good way to get familiar with the amazing taste of yakitori. I'm glad this place is here and hope it's around for a while. Or even better I hope they expand into the city.
Yakitori Boogytori is a full fledged bar and restaurant. Parking is easy and if you time your ride you can zip there and back without much traffic. Personally I think it's worth the ride and a good way to enjoy a Weekend night when you dont want to deal with the scene. The people are nice and the grilled meats are great. I wish yakitori would trend up the way ramen recently did. Fingers crossed for that. Speaking of which they recently added ramen to the menu. Probably bc people asked.
The Team at Yakitori Boogytori
932 W Algonquin Rd
Arlington Heights, IL 60005