Uniting traditional Japanese Yakitori and modern creative cuisine
Written and translated by Diva Yang
Photos by Andy Lin
83-1, ChangAn E Rd, Sec 1
Hours: 5:30 pm-1 am
Credit cards accepted. 10% service charge.
Now open for 27 years, Yamakiya was one of Taiwan's first Japanese barbecue specialty restaurants to offer a good selection of meat, vegetable and seafood kebabs--in Japan known as "yakitori". When original owner Mr. Zheng first launched this business, he even traveled to Japan to learn the authentic method for preparing these items. Today, the second-generation owner--creative Chef James--is a regular on TV shows. Although Yamakiya is in a popular Taipei restaurant district, surrounded by cheap Taiwanese-style stir-fry eateries, it doesn't seem affected by this competition, regularly drawing a steady flow of diners.
Despite the demands of changing times and customer tastes, this restaurant has managed to stay on the top by providing quality, traditional Japanese-style kebab dishes, in addition to a selection of Western cuisine. This offers another reason to try out this small establishment, which has a sumptuous menu of Chinese, Japanese and Western-style creative fusion dishes.
It's worth noting that the kebab items here are cooked on the grill with only charcoal, traditional Japanese-style. The Hualien Indigenous Chicken Kebab (NT$150, 3 kebabs) is very chewy, while the Matsusaka Pork (NT$120, 3 kebabs) is a signature dish here, and the Green Pepper Kebab (NT$50, 3 kebabs) is equally popular. Japanese/Chinese fusion Tofu Salad (NT$160) is a refreshing appetizer mixed with miso paste, bean paste and mayonnaise. The Deep-fried Pumpkin Spring Roll in Creamy Sauce (NT$120) has a mashed pumpkin and cream stuffing and is deep-fried into a unique, savory spring roll dish. Another creative dish worth trying is the Spicy Tuna Roll (NT$240), with a tantalizing flavor different from the Californian spicy tuna rolls often seen in other restaurants, by virtue of added ingredients like perilla, sesame seeds, onions and mayonnaise. This slightly spicy dish offers the full freshness of the tuna.
The Japanese-style Salmon Clay Pot (NT$250) is cooked with a tasty broth made from dry seaweed and miso paste. When you finish the salmon, you can still ask the staff to refill the soup until you are completely full. For those who have trouble choosing from amongst this wonderful menu selection, there are the super-value set meals (NT$600 per person, serving 2-4 people). This hearty set offers more than enough and the main courses are followed by Japanese kebab-style treats (NT$45 a la carte).
Yamakiya's seating on two floors sometimes welcomes celebrity diners, too. The half-open-style kitchen gives sneak previews of dishes, and each table is equipped with a bell to summon wait staff. While enjoying your meal, be sure to notice the paintings on walls in various corners, created by first-generation owner Mr. Zheng, who was a devoted artist before becoming a chef. This ensures that a trip to this restaurant will allow you to savor both beautiful art and authentic Japanese delicacies.