New restaurants in Hong Kong: Yardbird, Sheung Wan - nose-to-tail yakitori is worth the wait
On a menu where most of the chicken is used apart from the head and feet, the ventricle with tare and Kyoto shichimi and the deeply flavoured heart with spring onion and ginger were the night’s favourites
Bad timing led to me and my guest standing during much of our meal at Yardbird. From past experiences at the restaurant – at the old location, not their new premises – we knew that it was best to arrive just when they open at 6pm. We thought we had a bit of leeway at the new place because in addition to the front room (which seems to be much larger than the entire old premises) there’s also a spacious and much quieter back room.
Because of this, I thought it safe to arrange to arrive at 6.30pm. My guest was there on time, but I was five minutes late – and they don’t seat parties until the whole group has arrived (which is fair enough). And then we found the back room had been booked out for a private party so sitting there wasn’t an option.
Fortunately, we had a proactive and friendly waiter who came to us as we were standing around and waiting with our drinks, who asked us if we wanted to reserve any dishes before they sold out. He also offered to start serving some of the food while we waited for seats.
It was just over an hour of standing before two seats at the bar were available, and ironically, it was there that we had to wait for our food. Until then, the dishes had been coming slowly (at our request) and steadily, but when we sat down, we had to wait for 40 minutes before any food was served.
Yardbird specialises in nose-to-tail yakitori – all the parts from the chicken are on the menu (OK, not the head and feet), and some of the more unusual bits sell out quickly.
Our favourites were the chicken oyster (HK$48), the tender, succulent part from the bird’s lower back, served with sea salt and lemon; the ventricle with tare and Kyoto shichimi (HK$48), which had a really interesting texture; crisp and fatty tail with sea salt and sake (HK$45); and the deeply flavoured heart with spring onion and ginger (HK$45).
We thought the achilles with garlic butter and thyme (HK$65) would be crunchy and bouncy like chicken soft bones, but it turned out to be like other dark meat chicken, and was moist and delicious. We enjoyed the soft texture of thyroid with sake and garlic, and the neck (HK$45) which had a spicy kick from the addition of yuzu kosho. Liver with sansho and tare (HK$45) was undercooked and unpleasantly mushy.
We had a half-order (HK$60, or HK$110 for a full order) of sweetcorn tempura – fat spheres of very corny fritters. KFC – Korean fried cauliflower (HK55 for a half order, HK$110 for full) had a delicate, crisp batter under a spicy, sticky coating of yuzu and chilli.
The Yardbird version of katsu sando (HK$90) isn’t my favourite; this one uses chopped meat, but both my guest and I prefer it made with pork chop, which has a firmer texture.
Yardbird, 154-158 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2547 9273. About HK$320 without drinks. There’s no service charge, and bookings are not accepted.
While you’re in the area: