If you are looking to a very satisfying and delicious yakitori / Izakaya experience in Japan look no further than Hajime-Ya. Hajime-Ya is located in Shinjuku Kabukicho, an alley full of drinking holes, bars and countless restaurant (also goes by the name Izakaya) selling – you guessed it, yakitori. Yakitori is grilled meat skewer best enjoyed with your alcohol beverage of choice (for me, ginger ale made a great match too!). The place like most other restaurants here are tiny and super cosy. This is a problem because there was no seat for us. The place is not super packed but the owner seems to want everybody to feel comfortable so even there’s a chair here and a chair there he is not keen to make room for us. (They are so laid back and clearly not money-crazy).
And the rest of the costumer, they were ordering a couple of skewers at a time, a drink at a time, and chit chatting. It seems like they are going to be there forever, some really are but fortunately, after about less than 20 minutes wait (we were willing to wait for half an hour at least), a group of people left leaving plenty of room, yay.
If you get confuse where the place is, it looks like this on the exterior. You can also try to make a booking, we were lucky to get a seat.
When we step inside, I feel like a local already! This place is filled with people just chilling out and catching up. Group of guys, group of girls, couples, everybody seems to be having a blast over whatever conversation they were having, an alcoholic beverage in one hand and yummy smoky meat on a skewer on the other (and cigarettes for those into it but the ventilation must be pretty good you can’t smell anything but mouth watering meat on the grill), how can life gets much better than this!
Very relaxing atmosphere and there’s absolutely no pressure how much you order or how long you are staying, or whether you’re a noisy bunch or just a solo eater wanting to enjoy your solitude (perhaps drink your sorrow away after a tough week, the perfect place), you’re all welcome! No weird looks, guaranteed.
This is where it gets exciting. It may seem expensive but all the skewers are super delicious it worth every penny. Okay you are not coming here that often right (God knows when else I’d get to go to Japan) so just give yourself a treat. Absolutely no sharing! They are so delicious that 1 skewer is never enough.
I didn’t try every single skewer in the menu, but I tried enough and see my ‘neighbour’s order that I am confident that all of the skewers here are delicious, even weird part of chicken that you cannot even pronounce or have any idea where in the animal it is, who cares? it taste delish. Below are what we did try.
You will be served with this seasoned raw cabbage whether you ordered it or not. This goes great with the skewers though. A little bit of green to cut through the ‘heaviness’ of the meat.
One of their best selling beef stews that we had with rice to help fill us up. It was okay compare to the skewers – very beefy, hearty, and rich. A tad oily but the beef are extremely tender.
Tsukune, Chicken meatball which is like a chicken sausage on a skewer expects it is so flavourful and juicy. I love it so much that I have to order another skewer. This especially took a little bit long to prepare.
The Chicken thigh skewer is crispy and salty outside and tender inside with awesome smoky flavour. It is so perfectly cooked and the saltiness is so great with your drinks.
Atsumi or as the menu stated, the ‘best part of chicken thigh’ – just by this statement, we were sold! I’m really not sure what we are eating here but it taste great!
Selected five Yakitori platter that includes egg yolk, heart, liver, gizzard and another skewer I cannot tell (probably tail or neck or skin???). Don’t get horrified, they are all very delicious. These skewers are probably very common in Japan. My favourite is the heart, it taste very al dente. I usually hate gizzard but I don’t know what magic they use, this – I love.
There are a total of about 22 different skewers in the menu. The rest of the skewers we didn’t order were ordered by a couple next to us and my mouth waters looking at them. Basically you cannot go wrong with their limited edition selection and the Hajime-Ya’s Choice range.
We stick to beer and ginger ale to wash down these beer’s match in heaven but the choice of drinks are endless (It’s a Tavern after all).
You can be sure that each skewer get the careful attention and love by the (probably owner) slash chef that’s grilling these beauties. You can tell that this is definitely his thing so you’re in good hand. Be ready to wait a little for each order while it’s being grilled to perfection.
It’s on the pricey side so treat it like a treat for your holiday.
A skewer start from 162 JPY to 300 JPY (Note that it is per skewer, not per couple of skewers)
A selection of 5 skewers cost 831 JPY
If you are real hungry they have a more filling menu that will fill you up with fraction of the price.
Overall and Return ability
Yes I can definitely see myself here time and time again especially when I want to wind down and have a great time. It’s gonna be a once in a while treat.
Address and Contact Number:
Japan, 〒160-0021 Tokyo, Shinjuku 歌舞伎町１丁目２６−７ カワノビル１F
+81 3-3200-0123 (to attempt booking)
So this is the Izakaya we tried when in Shinjuku, should you have any other suggestion please drop it on the comment section below =)