While I'm not a big fan of yakitori, I've been pretty curious about Yardbird given the hype surrounding the restaurant and its ex-Zuma chef (not to mention everything I've heard about the well-groomed waiters). I'm generally pretty skeptical when it comes to celebrity restaurants and usually go in with the mindset that things are gonna be disappointingly overrated. While I was seated straightaway, having arrived just before 7 to miss the crowds, I immediately felt a headache coming on with the obnoxiously loud music pumping away on their poor acoustics - one of my biggest pet peeves in terms of restaurant trends. It was impossible to have a conversation and it felt like they were just trying too hard to be hip and trendy... I immediately thought how right I was to be skeptical, though I suppose I shouldn't expect any less given the last few times I've eaten at Zuma the music was equally as loud...
Luckily for Yardbird, their food is pretty damn good.
breast with wasabi and soysauce ($38 per skewer)
This was quite tender and juicy, and you could tell they used top quality chicken. I really enjoyed the wasabi kick in the sauce as well.
maitake mushroom ($120)
This dish was under their "Smaller" section but we weren't quite expecting THAT small for the price. While it was pretty tasty - I enjoyed the use of sudachi which gave it a nice citrusy flavour - it wasn't all that surprising.
chicken meatballs ($42 per skewer)
This was the highlight of my meal! It was sooo delicious and full of flavour. It comes with this sauce of egg yolk and Japanese tare sauce (kind of similar to teriyaki sauce) which you mix together to get a nice thick dip for your meat. I took a photo of the egg too but unfortunately, my iPhone has been acting up recently so I lost three photos from this meal...
pork belly ponzu ($42)
This was one of their specials and while it was pretty interesting with the ponzu sauce (almost tasted like marmalade!), the pork belly was a little tougher than I would've liked.
rib sancho ($38)
Again this was a little tough and not one of my favourites.
chicken oysters ($42 per skewer)
This was probably my second favourite thing we sampled. Chicken oysters are often considered the most tender and flavourful part of the chicken, and these ones didn't disappoint. They were perfectly juicy with just a hint of salt and a squeeze of lemon. The skin that was left on them also made for perfect chicken oil flavour hehe. I already want more!
We also ordered chicken wings and a skewer of fillet with yuzu miso, both of which somehow weren't saved on my phone camera. The total bill came up to just under $600 for two (no service charge included) and we both left feeling pretty satiated.
I would suggest giving it a try - for the most part, I was quite impressed by the quality of the skewers we got. However, I won't be rushing back anytime soon. It's pretty pricey as far as grilled meats go (plus $68 for a bottle of water!), and the food just wasn't as innovative as I was expecting.
33-35 Bridges Street