Located on the end of Bridges Street on the cusp of Sheung Wan and Soho, Yardbird is undeniably a happening restaurant. The yakitori specialist does not take reservations, but that has not stopped the young and trendy clientele from swarming the restaurant. Yardbird is split into two levels: the ground level has a large bar and high stools designed primarily for guests waiting for a table. We would recommend sitting at the tables downstairs in the basement, with its view of the chefs working busily in the open kitchen.
Yardbird specialises in not just yakitori, but chicken yakitori. So before you begin your avian feast, it is probably a good idea to get some vegetables out of the way. We highly recommend the edamame, which are so often a warm, salty and soggy disappointment. Not so at Yardbird, where the soybeans are piping hot, yet still retain their crunch. We had been told to try the Korean fried cauliflower by a number of people, but we actually much preferred the sweet corn tempura, which are deliciously fluffy as a whole but with firm, individual kernels. Moving onto the main event, the chicken meatballs are a favourite. Succulent and juicy, they go extremely well with the bright orange egg yolk dip. We also enjoyed the chicken wings with the tangy homemade spices (which are given as a gift along with the bill), as well as the fatty chicken skin with the tart mayo, also made in-house. More disappointing are the chicken thighs, which are blander in flavour than the other parts of the chicken, as well as drier. The leeks that accompany the skewer are also chewy side and difficult to gracefully bite into. Perhaps we were a little chickened out, but we also were not that impressed with the final dish of fried chicken, which was cooked for a touch too long, and tasted slightly bitter. We would recommend expanding the dessert menu slightly: on the night we visited, there was only a peanut butter ice cream available, which may not be to everyone’s taste.
The staff are knowledgeable about the range of sake available, offering detailed recommendations depending on the individual preferences of each diner. Most of the sake on offer are on the dry side, which go well with the fiery yakitori dishes. For those who prefer wine, there are seven wines by the glass (three reds and four whites), and includes a range of varietals including Viognier from Rhone, Gewurtzraminer from Alsace and Riesling from Urgestein, Austria.
There is no service charge at Yardbird and customers are encouraged to tip according to the service received, similar to the American model. It obviously works well at Yardbird where the good-looking staff are pleasant, efficient and friendly.
A meal for two with sake will come to about HK$1,000. While this is definitely on the high side for yakitori, it is not altogether surprising given the high staff-to-customer ratio and the trendy locale.