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During our first trip to Japan, Mr. Selfish and I learned that Japanese food is quite diverse. We sampled yakitori, karaage, takoyaki, ramen, udon, soba, okonomiyaki, etc. Unfortunately, the majority of Japanese restaurants in the States only serve sushi and some form of teriyaki.

This post is dedicated to the wonderful chicken that we had in Kyoto, specifically the yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers) and karaage (deep fried chicken). I never knew that chicken could be so tender and delicious until I had it in Japan.

Our favorite yakitori place is called Chabuya (炭火焼鳥ちゃぶや), located at 310−3 Uradeyamacho. We ate here in 2010 with some locals and knew that we had to return during our selfish year. It is a small, unassuming place that is frequented by locals. Luckily, they have an English menu (though we never saw any other English speakers the two times we were there).

Chicken 17

Mr. Selfish and I ordered almost every yakitori on the menu but the main standouts were the “special meatball” yakitori that came with a raw egg for dipping and the chicken wings. We also enjoyed the raw veggies that came with a delightful dipping sauce.

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I also discovered chūhai, which is a mix drink consisting of shōchū (distilled alcohol) and carbonated water flavored with fruit. I especially enjoyed the kiwi and mango flavors.

Chicken 11Chūhai

The other delightful chicken that we had was karaage, which is of the deep fried variety. We went to Fukei (風景), located at 592 Sawakishi Kobo 2F, Nishiki-koji, for the supposed best karaage in Kyoto. It didn’t disappoint. It was the best we had. The regular karaage was a lot better than then the one with “citrus sauce”. The izakaya was charming and was even Beatles themed.

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Finally, another noteworthy karaage place is right across the street from the Yasaka Shrine in Gion. It is just a little stand with a vending machine out front from which you order the karaage. We tried it on its own as well as with hot chili sauce and green onion sauce. The green onion sauce proved to be the winner.

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Just looking at these pictures make me crave the yakitori and karaage. If you visit Japan, just remember that there is a lot to the cuisine other than sushi and teriyaki. Try the odd chicken bits, especially the neck and the tail!