Wednesday 1 December 2010

Bincho, Soho

Recently I was emailed with a recommendation of a blog link. I get these every so often and I'm always glad for new reading material, but this one captured me particularly no less for the startling photography but for all the unusual cuts of meat. It prompted me to hot-foot it down to Bincho Yakitori in Soho, writers of the blog and purveyors of yakitori and kutsiyaki, in the hope of trying some of them out.

So, grilled meat on skewers.

As the skewers were placed on the charcoal in front of us, salt was sprinkled liberally and sauces brushed over seductively as the grill flashed with flames. Chicken hearts (closest) were on the specials board and after having tried them at Ben Greeno's gaff, I knew we had to have them. They weren't as tender as his version but were tasty and well seasoned nonetheless. Chicken gizzards have a habit of being both crunchy yet squidgy, and these were textbook. Their chewiness weren't a patch on Jinkichi's though; I emerged from those particular chicken gizzards with a visibly more muscled jaw.

Chicken oysters, seemingly wrapped in chicken skin before grilling were polar opposite, and in competition of being my favourite skewer. These are usually my favourite part of a roasted chicken; all those gorgeous juices run down through the bird, pooling at the oyster to flavour it. Stuffed shiitake mushrooms were earthy and stuffed with, I think, minced chicken or pork; I am definitely attempting these at home.

Shishito peppers, sweet Japanese ones tasted just like padron peppers to me.

Ox tongue and pork belly cubes were both doused in a sweet, sticky sauce and were beautifully tender and smoky.

And, just as we were about to order a few more bits and pieces to take us through the rest of the working day, the manager told us that the chicken cartilage and chicken neck skewers were now available. Obviously they had to be ordered, with a side of miso aubergine for good measure.

Cartilage (closest) is, as you might expect it. Very crunchy indeed, but these morsels also had the most flavour with the edges charred and crispy. I can't even begin to think how long it must take to extract chicken necks to make a skewer, but these were so juicy they were worth all the work, however much that may be.

Away from skewers, a pig tripe, tofu and daikon stew was tinged with miso and was comforting and homely, little bursts of sancho pepper awakening the palate.

It wasn't a cheap lunch, booze-free at £20 a head, but well worth the money. I can't think of anywhere else within walking distance of my office to get excited about offal on sticks. Just make sure you ask for any off-menu bits and be sure to check the specials board.

My companion's rather more eloquent report is HERE.

Bincho Yakitori

16 Old Compton Street
London W1D 4TL

Tel: 020 7287 9111

Bincho Yakitori on Urbanspoon


Joshua said...

I really enjoyed Bincho when I went but was without camera.

Favourites were the tongue, pork belly, chicken oysters and chicken hearts. Think we must have hit the beer and saki a bit hard as we were more like £60-£70 a head. Oops.

Greedy Diva said...

I'm with you on this one. I always walked past thinking it didn't look anything special until a friend who knows his stuff about food in Tokyo told me he'd visited and gave it his seal of approval. I think Bincho is a great little place.

Grumbling Gourmet said...

Got to say, I had a really disappointing meal here when I visited at the start of the year. I had high hopes, but they just didn't live up to them...


Luiz Hara said...

I have always wondered about this place, but will definitely give it a go now. It is one of the Taste Card restaurants, so you can get 50% off the food with the card. Love chicken hearts, we have them a lot in Brazil.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

TomEats said...

If you scroll down the link from the website that inspired you to go to Bincho you can see their post on "piss alley" where yakitori can be eaten cheaply, roughly and tastily in Tokyo. Freak it (and your review of Bincho) is making me want to go back.

Jonathan said...

That's pretty awesome. Maybe chicken necks are going to be the next big cut after the cheek fad.

Cracking review - very keen to tuck into some of their unusual skewers.

Hengki B.P. said...

Bincho? Grilled meat? Whatever a name of this food. I like this very much, but in my country it is usually called as satay or sate. Delicious!!!