High up on the to-try list for Hong Kong was Yardbird. It is known for its Japanese modern yakitori/izakaya fare. I had seen it on travel shows and Perpetually Underwhelmed and 3SB recommended the place. They had already nailed it with their recommendation of Yakiniku Great, so Yardbird was sure to hit it out of the park. The place is so popular I was told to line up 30 minutes before opening to avoid waiting for a table. We weren’t that hungry so showed up 30 minutes past opening and surprisingly landed a table without a wait. We were seated downstairs just outside of the kitchen. We went with the omakase to be certain we would get the restaurant’s best and most popular items.
Delightfully fresh and snappy.
Yardbird Caesar crispy anchovy, miso
An interesting concept to make nori a large component of a salad, but this was a bit underdressed and not a favorite of the table.
Sweet Corn Tempura sea salt, pepper
I’m not sure why the corn balls get talked up so much. The corn was definitely not sweet enough. It was just OK sweet, but when the ingredient list is basically corn and tempura batter, the corn better be explosively sweet and juicy.
Liver Mousse milk bread, crispy shallot
I love a good liver mousse and this was an interesting take with the milk bread. You’re certainly not going to find this soft pillowy chewy white bread on any Frenchman’s table. It was a tasty dish with the contrast of spring onions and fried shallots, but a crustier drier bread pairs better and is better able to stand up to the smooth creamy richness of such a pate.
Breast wasabi, soy sauce
We started off with skewers of white meat that were neither super juicy or super dry. The wasabi added a bit of kick to the soy sauce.
Thigh welsh onion, tare
The dark meat was much appreciated. It was more flavorful, but still nothing particularly special.
Heart spring onion, ginger
I appreciated the firmer chewier texture of heart.
Tartare potato chip
I can’t remember what kind of tartare this was, but it was tasty.
Meatball tare, egg yolk
I’m a big fan of the chicken meatballs at yakitori places. These were shaped more like corn dogs rather than balls. They were beautifully caramelized and served with a sweet soy sauce made extra special luscious with an egg yolk. Delicious.
Chicken & Egg crispy skin, peas
The rice was ooey gooey from the runny poached egg in the center. The crispy skin was a nice textural contrast. It ended our meal with a complete taste of the best parts of the chicken. A little more seasoning would have been nice. It was served in a hot cast iron skillet which I imagine was intended to crisp up the rice.
As you can see, there wasn’t much crispiness going on aside from the chicken skin.
KFC korean fried cauliflower, yuzu, chili
One of their most popular and signature dishes was my least favorite bite of the night. This was a take on Korean fried chicken that is usually a combination of salty, sweet, and spicy. The cauliflower was battered and deep fried and then coated in the sticky red sauce. There was no aspect of this I found appetizing. The sauce was too sweet. The cauliflower was too soft to stand up to being battered and deep fried. No bueno.
Yardbird was good, but nothing particularly special. I’ve certainly had better yakitori. It’s pretty standard with some unique creations like the corn tempura, pate, and chicken rice. I applaud them for thinking outside the box, but I wasn’t really wowed by those dishes. 3SB used to come here a lot when it first opened because there was nothing like this in the neighborhood before. He admitted that the ambiance and experience contributed to his affinity for the place than just the food alone. I can’t say I really loved loved any one dish. I would certainly NOT wait an hour to eat here, that’s for sure. It’s a cool place to check out, but I don’t need to come back when Hong Kong offers sooooo many other things to try out.
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here