Thursday, April 4, 2013

Yardbird - (Hong Kong)

  If one looks at the overall record on Yardbird on the most commoner’s reviews of here on Openrice: ,  you might notice that 12 out of 13 reviews of here are written naturally in English.   I guess that precisely sums up on what is going on about it’s aimed clientele.  It is attracting a different crowd altogether.   In Hong Kong  you can certainly get more authentic Japanese food operated by Japanese Chefs run restaurants,  but not a lot of these receive media coverage in English,  nor do they even provide properly translated English menus,  let alone into Chinese itself.      Having considered this point of difference – I have got to admit Yardbird on my 2nd visit was pretty convincing.   Definitely not in terms of authenticity and understanding of traditional Japanese food,  but the execution was spot on indeed bar one of their signature tsukune dish.  Good job overall for what is exotic Japanese food,  something I am already pretty used to living in Australia all these years.   And to be fair this was done a bit ahead of the rest.



Yardbird House Sake -
If I was given this in a blind tasting,  I will call this out for being dull and all alcoholic based Shochu.  But surprisingly this was actually a Sake.  Which was less polished than I could imagine.  ~  5/10




Tsukune Minced Chicken Stick,  often with Cartilage and even Organs infused -
Don’t want to sound mean,  but after 3 visits this was just looking so wrong and pale.  The normal brown surface color comes from a Secondary grilling caramelization process,  after re-dipping the stick into the tare sauce again with sugar.   I don’t think Yardbird really understood this point yet after 3 visits.  Even if it is quite marketable in concept  when served with an egg yolk on the side ~  5/10




Chicken Neck Dish No. 1,  and No. 2 -
Chicken neck visit 1,  was served with some Chili based paste with Shichimi powder.  On another visit later, this was served with a Yuzu Kosho (Grapefruit and Pepper paste).   Truth be told both versions are really bold,  emphasizing on that fact that these are exotic skewers with an exotic sauce on the side and neck muscles.   In between calling it being too Try-Hard on both occasions,  or simply reinventing exotic Japanese food from another perspective -  I have got to say both versions were executed well indeed.  Taste matters a lot to me,  but so does the philosophy behind their concept!  Really hard to balance indeed..   ~  9/10



Shichimi Powder -
Just like their Marketing,  the usually more subtle Japanese counterparts would have never thought of giving this out at the end.   Japanese food is usually more restrained in subtlety,  at least on the surface anyway. 




Lime,  Mitsuba herbs,  Yuzu Kosho (Grapefruit & Pepper) and Mussels -
This was simply sublime with the balance.  From one angle,  you question why they do it so well over here even if the Yuzu concept is already becoming repetitive and not normally associated with mussels.   I think from a Japanese Chef’s angle this was really breaching the line…  But from another perspective,  name me another place which did mussels so well with it’s unique and not always traditional recipe?   ~  10/10




Hitachino Nest Ginger Ale -
It’s actually an alcoholic version,  as explained before at Felix before. 



Corn Tempura -
This was different to what most Japanese chefs will cook up,  which are usually more sliced,  than scooped.  But this was simply sublime once again and packed with crispiness and sweetness.  Wouldn’t call it authentic though..  ~  9/10




Chicken Hearts – $38
This looked different to most authentic Japanese versions,  which are usually glazed in tare sauce.  It came with a handful of chopped spring onions and minced ginger instead.  It’s not really authentic,  and even hinted at having cross-over recipes without really understanding why.  But this was done well outside of the norm indeed..   ~  8/10  




Chicken Knee Bone Skewer -
When this arrived,  it looked so different to the normal authentic Japanese version on colour.  It was more like a Pancreas with the criss-cross pattern.  Also kinda more wider and under-grilled.   The more traditional version is definitely better as they are more grilled until the soft bones begin to melt and crispen up.  Not quite up to that standard here today.  ~  6/10




Chicken Oysters ‘Sot-l'y-laisse” -
Some other Yakitori shops in Japan,  Hong Kong or Taiwan also offer this too.  But only over at here is it beginning to become marketable to the crowd.  I guess may be because Japanese food has taken on an English interpretation on the menu here.   Old news is better than no news?   ~  8.5/10



Korean Fried Cauliflower -
Some battered coating with a sweetish sauce and sesames.  We loved this so much.  I guess at the end of the day.  this is no longer Japanese food,  not even Japanese inspired dishes.   It really throws wreak into havoc when it comes to quantifying in the end.  Does it even remain Japanese food and how should we go to see it?  Never mind the addictive taste.    ~  10/10




Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Chips -
I don’t recall the last time Japanese cuisine had Brussels Sprout  thrown in with fried garlic,  but this was pretty adorable except for the expected burnt taste from both garlic and brussels sprout.  ~  7/10




Another Tsukune minced Chicken -
It looked so Wrong for really obvious reasons that I think is a waste of time to explain for hardcore Japanese fans.  But to put it on record so you can certainly sue me,  it wasn’t caramelized on the surface and it wasn’t arriving in either the long elongated shape or the balls ‘dango’ shape.   But the concept behind it will definitely wow people anyway,  especially to those who are not normally exposed to Tsukune in both taste and texture or the side egg yolk with sauce already.      Although this wasn’t bad per se,  it was very off the best of the authentic versions.   It’s presented more like a concept here than the real deal tsukune,  for the sake of having a minced chicken stick with cartilage, without understanding what the normal version really tastes like.   The real thing definitely is expected to carry a more grainier texture inside and a darker caramelized surface externally on appearance.   Here it still remained a borrowed concept??   5/10




Price:   HKD $400 – $500
Food:  ♕♕♕ to  ♕♕♕♕♕
Ease of Access:  3/5 (Walk up the hill from Sheung Wan MTR Station.  Or take a cab and then wait in line for 1.5 hours).

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sat -  6:00pm – 00:00am

Address: 上環33-35 必列者士街
33-35 Bridges Street, Sheung WanSha Tsui,  Hong Kong.
Ph: 2547 9273  (NO Bookings)


  1. Hmmm... I don't know why you keep harping about "authentic Japanese", since I don't think Yardbird has ever advertised themselves as being so? As long as the food tastes good and people like it, I think that is all that matters. I'm glad you liked it, though, as I still haven't been!

    Think of all the places around town that claim to be "authentic" but have crappy food.

    Your point about the sake... I think it does say just "junmai" instead of "junmai ginjo" or "junmai daiginjo"... so clear it isn't gonna be as polished as those. Pun fully-intended!

  2. @Momo (in season soon!),

    Almost bursted out with the 'Junmai' pun lol! It was so raw to me, it reminded me more of un-refined Tequila or Rice Shochu from Kyushu, or even Okinawan Awamori before I will classify it as within scoop of being a Sake. May be I just didn't get the idea.

    And really sorry that I kept emphasizing and raising the point that this wasn't Authentic Japanese food. I was just trying to be fair, as I did liked here after my 3rd visit and food were executed well. Just in a different sense : D



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