When I first came to Japan, I was seriously worried about the food. This might sound strange, but I was not really into fish at all, let alone the raw version of it, and I initially thought that Japanese cuisine was all about fish and nothing else. Fortunately I was wrong. Although I have started to like fish a lot by now, this yakitori restaurant will probably always be one of my favorite places.
Yakitori literally means “grilled chicken”; however, it is usually more than that. At Nanbantei you can expect a great variety of vegetable, beef and chicken skewers, grilled to perfection on the charcoal grill in the center of a small but cozy traditional restaurant. The quality of the food is outstanding and some of their creations are quite unique, such as the tomato yaki: juicy tomatoes wrapped in crispy bacon, some spinach leaves and melted Parmesan cheese. The combination is simply fantastic and the seasoning perfect. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. My next favorite is the asparagus skewer, also wrapped in bacon. When it comes to chicken, you have to try the chicken hearts. I used to be a little unadventurous in terms of food, but a friend of mine would not stop telling me about the have-to-try chicken hearts, so I tasted them. I could not and did not really want to believe that this was the tenderest and most tasty part of a chicken I had ever tasted. Since then it has been part of my order every time I go there. I could also die for both their prawn and scallop skewers, for the latter you can choose either soya sauce or their homemade basil sauce – both delicious.
When you arrive, you usually find the tiny wooden tables carefully prepared with small square plates, some miso sauce and coarse sea salt. They will then serve you a small cup of assorted raw vegetables, something to nibble on before your first skewer arrives. They have a full English menu, and as the restaurant is popular with locals and foreigners alike they also speak English quite well.
If you cannot decide what to have and if you are ready to eat any part of the chicken, you might want to try one of their dinner sets. However, the sets usually do not include the tomato skewers, and you really should not miss them!
Make sure you carefully check the map before you go there. This place is tucked away in a side street in Roppongi and I would not have found it without knowing exactly where to look.
The dinner sets cost around 3,500 Yen each. I usually end up paying a bit more, ordering my preferred skewers individually. However, the quality of the food and the cozy atmosphere definitely make up for it.