Fire Up The Grill For Japanese Street Food: 6 Best Yakitori Restaurants in Tokyo

By Ryan Noble
Updated: March 15, 2024

In the world of traditional Japanese food, always save a seat for yakitori (grilled chicken). Made up of the words yaki (grill) and tori (bird, or in this case, chicken), it’s exactly what it sounds like, but it's a simple thing that can be cooked and enjoyed in a surprising number of ways.

Yakitori street stalls started to appear in the 1880-90s, when game fowl was becoming more popular in Japan. At this time, fowl was still considered an expensive meat, and so these stalls used the cheaper offcuts and innards. These would then be skewered, grilled, and slathered in tare sauce — a sweet and savory sauce created by mixing soy sauce with sake or mirin and sugar.

These days, with wild birds no longer used and chickens considered an inexpensive ingredient, yakitori uses all parts of the bird, from the innards and organs to the meatier thighs.

Whether you head into traditional izakaya or reserve a seat at more premium yakitori restaurants, there’s nothing quite like ending a long day of exploring or working with a few friends, cold beers, and yakitori.

Suddenly craving yakitori? Explore the best yakitori restaurants in Tokyo and we’ll let them know to get the grills fired up!

Best Yakitori Restaurants in Tokyo

  1. Yakitori Omino (Shinjuku)
  2. Nana Cho Me (Minato)
  3. Yakitori Sei (Shinjuku)
  4. Iseya (Kichijoji: Cheap eats!)
  5. Gonpachi Nishiazabu (Minato: Kill Bill restaurant!)
  6. Tokoshima (Sangenjaya) 

1. Yakitori Omino (Oshiage, by Tokyo Skytree)

Yakitori at Yakitori Omino, with a grilled piece of chicken and leek on a skewer. They look slightly charred..

You may have thought that yakitori was too much of a street food to be recognised by the Michelin Guide, but Yakitori Omino is a Michelin star yakitori restaurant in Tokyo that begs to differ. 

Moments from Tokyo Skytree and the cuteness of Kirby Cafe, this is a set-course yakitori meal, serving up a variety of different chicken parts and vegetables over a charcoal grill, including tendons, liver, tail meat, cartilage, and heart.

You’ll also have a great view of your yakitori being prepared, showing you exactly how this Michelin star restaurant took yakitori from food stalls to Michelin stars.

Book in advance: Yakitori Omino only opens reservations on the first business day of every month. When making a reservation, please submit your request within the last 3 business days of the month before your desired booking date, so the byFood concierge team has ample time to prepare.

2. Nana Cho Me (Minato)

A serving of grilled meat and vegetables at Nana Cho Me, a Michelin star yakitori restaurant in Tokyo.

Nana Cho Me is another Michelin star yakitori restaurant in Tokyo that we couldn’t leave off this list. Even before you get to the food, this restaurant will dazzle you with its elegant interiors, but let’s get to the real star of the show…

With a set-course option and an a la carte menu, you’ll have plenty of yakitori dishes to choose from, including oyakodon (egg and chicken rice bowl), grilled quail eggs, and all manner of grilled skewers. So, meet in Minato for Michelin star yakitori tonight?

3. Yakitori Sei (Shinjuku)

Three balls of grilled meat are served on a skewer at Yakitori Sei.

Yakitori Sei is the creation of Chef Sei Takuma, who dreamed of opening a yakitori restaurant in Tokyo since childhood — which is only natural since his family runs a popular yakitori restaurant in Shizuoka! After training at a kappo restaurant in Ebisu, he achieved his dream in 2008 when he opened Yakitori Sei in Shinjuku. 

Creating an intimate experience in the heart of Tokyo with 16 counter seats, you’ll be up close and personal for the grilling of your dishes, including Yakitori Sei’s signature dish, "Sho-Niku," using tender thigh meat for a mouth-watering yakitori experience.

Leave it to the chef: Yakitori Sei also has an omakase course, in which Chef Sei will select seasonal ingredients to create an evening of multiple yakitori, small plates, chicken wings, ramen or kamameshi (an iron-pot rice dish), and a drink.

4. Iseya (Kichijoji: Cheap eats!)

A shot from the street, looking across at Iseya, an inviting yakitori restaurant in Tokyo lit by the traditional red lanterns of izakaya.

Since we've been sharing the more premium side of yakitori so far, it only feels right to travel to the other end of the spectrum to share the world of cheaper yakitori in Tokyo, namely, the affordable yakitori of Iseya.

Moments from Inokashira Park, a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing, Iseya is a yakitori shop that’s been delighting diners for decades! With lunch and dinner costing on average around ¥2,000-¥3,000, you can enjoy spending an evening here by the glow of their red izakaya lanterns without worrying about checking your bank account after every dish.

5. Gonpachi Nishiazabu (Minato: Kill Bill restaurant!)

An interior shot of Gonpachi Nishiazabu, known more famously as the Kill Bill restaurant in Tokyo. It is filled with people dining across two levels.

You’ve likely never heard of Gonpachi Nishiazabu, but you might feel like you recognise this restaurant without knowing why. How about if we said… The Kill Bill restaurant? Yeah, we thought that might do it.

But this is so much more than the spot where Uma Thurman takes out The Crazy 88 in a bloody brawl. It’s also a great izakaya gastropub in its own right, including all kinds of traditional Japanese foods — including yakitori, of course — alongside more international innovations, like camembert tempura.

With its high roof, a lively, sprawling dining area with room for everyone, and a mezzanine balcony that runs all the way around the restaurant, this is one place we think you’d find pretty memorable even if it hadn’t already been immortalized on the big screen.

Enjoy vegan or halal yakitori in Tokyo: The Kill Bill Tokyo restaurant’s film fame means that they accommodate all sorts of dietary requirements. There’s a vegan menu, and a Halal-friendly menu available with minimum 3 days advance notice.

6. Tokoshima (Sangenjaya) 

A yakitori vendor grilling chicken skewers and piling them up in the foreground, ready for hungry customers.

Tokoshima is another restaurant that’s taking this classic street food up a level. Over 40 types of sake are available for pairing with 20 different varieties of grilled chicken, the latter of which are prepared in-house. Tokoshima even has their own poultry processing license to purchase whole chickens for prepping, guaranteeing only the freshest ingredients for their customers. 

Chef Tokoshima also specifies that these chickens must be laid from French eggs in a farm up in the Ibaraki Prefecture, due to their unique texture and that their signature flavor comes from the meat juices dripping onto the fiery charcoal. Anyone feel like chicken tonight?

Still not found what you’re looking for? Explore a few more of the yakitori restaurants in Tokyo available for booking online:

Tempted to try out everything Tokyo has to offer? Take a look through our full list of Tokyo yakitori restaurants, or sample Tokyo’s best street food with our Tokyo street food guide and Tokyo’s best street food spots.

Yakitori FAQs

What is yakitori? What kind of meat is yakitori?

Yakitori means “grilled chicken,” coming from the Japanese for “grill” and “bird,” although the latter has come to mean “chicken” when it refers to this particular type of Japanese cuisine. 

Yakitori usually refers to various types of chicken meat — including offcuts and innards — being skewered and covered in different seasonings and sauces, depending on the type of yakitori being served.

What is the most popular yakitori in Japan?

One of the most popular yakitori in Japan is ‘negima’ yakitori, which skewers chicken thigh meat and leek together. It can also be purchased at most of Japan’s konbini (convenience stores), if you care to sample it on the way to one of these must-see yakitori spots.

Why is yakitori so good?

Yakitori is considered to be a favorite in Japan because of its simplicity, allowing people a chance to relax after work or travel with a quick, easy meal. With a wide range of different seasonings, sauces, and parts of the chicken, there are many different types of yakitori to enjoy — all of which pair well with a beer or sake and good conversation.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
Click clap if you like this post
Ryan Noble
Ryan’s love for Japan may have begun with Naruto — something he refuses to hide — but it only grew once he truly understood the beauty of this country’s language, culture, and people. He hopes to use that passion to bridge the gap between Japan and the rest of the world, shining the spotlight on its hidden gems and supporting the revitalization of rural regions.
Stay in the Loop!
Be the first to know about the latest foodie trends.
Sign up for insider tips & sneak peeks into the diverse world of dining in Japan