There is only one Japanese yakitori restaurant in the UK and, since July 2020, it’s been based at the Goodsheds in Barry: Tokyo Nights.
But after countless rage reviews from locals, Tokyo Nights will now be opening a stall in Cardiff market next month — and other locations, including Swansea, are also on the cards.
Tokyo Nights located within the Goodsheds development on Hood Road in Barry was created after local chef, Oliver Bryant, travelled to the Rugby World Cup in Japan in October 2019.
He and his friends very quickly became passionate about yakitori, the smell of the smoke in the street, the skilful butchery, the delicious umami flavour and the way it lends itself perfectly to ice-cold Japanese beer!
Yakitori are perfectly formed and grilled chicken skewers which go perfectly with ice-cold Japanese beer. Yakitori literally translates to grilled chicken (yaki=grill and tori=chicken).
Oliver already had a successful street food business, Puckin Poutine, which for three years had been popular around South Wales and had a strong following.
But Japan changed everything. Oliver says: ” I saw an opportunity in Wales as yakitori was pretty much unknown. I had a contract signed with a new development to open a Puckin Poutine shop in Barry but after my experience at the Japan World Cup I told them I wanted to open Tokyo Nights instead, and so I opened it in July last year.”
“I spent most nights during lockdown practising my Japanese chicken butchery skills from watching YouTube videos and cooking up the skewers on a rubbish electric grill I bought on eBay.”
What makes yakatori so special for Oliver is the craftmanship that goes into each skewer. Firstly the fresh, free range chickens are butchered differently to the way they are in the western world.
Each skewer is prepared and cooked to give the perfect texture, appearance and flavour.
For example, the thigh is often cooked slightly longer than the breast because there’s more fat and connective tissue.
Oliver says: “In Japan the breast is often cooked medium-rare or even rare, which is a bit of a shock the first time you see it but is delicious!
The skewers are then flavoured with either salt or a sweet, umami marinade called tare. Some less flavourful cuts like breast or inner fillet might be served with a smidgen of wasabi or pickled plum.” *