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Ken Yakitori

An ancient style of cooking that literally means 'grilled bird'.
By Stephen Heard
July 17, 2014
By Stephen Heard
July 17, 2014

Tucked away down the city end of K'Rd you'll find Ken Yakitori, one of two Ken's-brand Japanese restaurants in Auckland— the other around the corner on Anzac Avenue.

Upon entry through the solid, logo emblazoned door, you will be pleasantly greeted by, not one, but all of the staff in unison. The restaurant itself is dark, woody, and the smell of smoke coming off the charcoal grill is prominent. A seat directly at the bar is the optimal dining position, allowing full view of the chefs hard at work. Elsewhere, there are booths, and large wooden tables upstairs that can be reserved for groups.

Yakitori is an ancient style of cooking that literally means 'grilled bird', although nowadays the art refers to any sort of meat and vegetables cooked on skewers over a charcoal fuelled BBQ. Ken's has an extensive menu of skewers which range from $4 to $6 for two, or you could leave your meal in the hands of the gods (that is, the chefs) and order a random selection of five for $12. But, believe me, you won't be strapped for choice - there's everything from chicken hearts to beef tongue, prawns wrapped with bacon, cheese sausages and ginko nuts— which are thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.

Salads are a perfect accompaniment, I particularly enjoy the freshness of the broccoli with sesame mayonnaise ($8). Alternatively, you could try the ever-popular head of cabbage with Japanese mayo — a concept I'm still trying to grasp. Dishes from the kitchen include the Japanese take of fried chicken - karaage ($14), beef tatake ($13), spicy dumplings ($7.5). The staple classics like edamame beans and tempura ($9) are also available.

Sake lovers also have plenty of options, including their preferred temperature of the beverage— hot, cold or frozen. There's also a pretty good wine list and a couple of Japanese beers on offer, though if you'd rather bring your own, corkage is $8 per bottle.

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