When I first came to Philly for grad school, I thought about getting a group together to head over to Yakitori Boy. It was reputed to be the place to go if you're looking for some deliciously grilled bites. And calling out to my inner Korean, it's also one of the few karaoke halls in the city. Somehow, the event never transpired though Yakitori Boy's remained on my list of places to check out. And yes, there's an actual list that's some 50+ places long.
|Left to Right: Geo [Geo's Table], Megan [SwagFoodPhilly], Joanie [PhillyPRGirl, Associate Director], Gianna [SwagFoodPhilly], Kate [PhillyPRGirl, Owner], Andrew [PhillyFoodPorn].|
In a bit of fortuitousness, the GF and I were talking about sushi and sake when I received an invitation from Philly PR Girl to sample some bites along with some fellow food bloggers. The added bonus of finally meeting Kate aka Philly PR Girl and fellow foodie fanatics? Who could say no to that?
One Smashed Monk
Yamazaki 12 year, yuzu, bitters
We were seated in a back room, but had a clear view of the bustling Friday night crowd. Despite 8 years in the business come December, Yakitori Boy's still able to pack the restaurant and karaoke lounge (more to come on that!). Truly a testament to the fact that they're doing something right. And this Japanese whiskey-based tipple was all kinds of right for me. It was essentially a twist on an Old Fashioned, with the wonderful foundation of Yamazaki 12 year, the tart citrus from the yuzu, and a dash of bitters.
For our first course, Yakitori Boy brought out a heaping cauldron of culinary delights. There was a deep, umami-laden broth, with what was seemingly a whole lobster tossed in, along with enoki and shiitake mushrooms, scallions, and spinach. Perfect for the cold nights and definitely kept me warm throughout the dinner - or was it the sake pairings?
Did someone say sake? Paired with the sushi and sashimi platters that were to come, we were brought two bottles - one was an unfiltered and sweet nigori sake, which is always a treat. The other was Murai Family Sugidama sake - really smooth and floral on the finish.
We were all amazed at the generous portions provided by Yakitori Boy. But I was blown away more so by the variety and the freshness, which admittedly should always be the case with sashimi! A veritable kaleidoscope included glistening salmon, sweet and snappy amaebi, fried ebi heads, tuna (yes, they had chu- and o-toro!). In addition to sweet, raw hotate (scallop), a generous heap of uni and ikura rounded things out nicely.
Don't worry - if simply raw isn't your style, Yakitori Boy has plenty of specialty rolls on offer! We tried some of their greatest hits. Did you know Yakitori Boy does plenty of charity work with the Eagles and other Philly-based sports teams? In fact, they've got a number of co-creations with them. The Eagles roll was our favorite, though the hero and magic rolls were winners as well. With subtly "spicy" sauces and crispy tempura toppings, there were plenty of textures and tastes to tantalize your palate!
From there, we moved on to their namesake yakitori. Grilling skewered items is truly an art in Japan and Yakitori Boy does the grilling culture proud. The "karubi" skewer was synonymous with the marinade you'd expect from Korean galbi short-ribs - tender, sweet, and succulent. The chicken scallion skewer was moist and juicy. And the bacon-wrapped quail egg? It tasted like breakfast, with a creamy quail egg yolk and tasty bacon melange.
The beef negimaki was beautifully basted in the sweet, soy-based sauce, though the beefy essence of the sirloin steak was not denied. The accompanying bean sprouts had good bite and a nice vinegar essence to cut through the richness of the beef.
Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura
Tempura should not be greasy or heavy. Thankfully, Yakitori's veggie and shrimp tempura was neither! The tempura was delicately crisp, with the shrimp having wonderful snap and the veggies having a tenderness that showcased technique. I appreciated that they had the proper mirin-dashi tempura sauce as well, rather than just a heavy salt-laden soy or God forbid, teriyaki.
Dessert Sake Pairing
Kate and Joanie from Philly PR Girl were excited to see that their favorite dessert sake was brought out to pair with dessert! And I can see why - described as the Japanese counterpart to limoncello, this yuzu-infused sake was sweet, tart, yet smooth. Yamamoto Yuzu Omoi's "Citrus Dream" sake is hard to come by in these parts, with Yakitori Boy being one of the few, if not the only, places to carry it! When they're out, it may be months before they get another so be sure to try it if it's available. Already added to my holiday gift-giving list for friends and family.
Mochi Ice Cream
I did mention dessert right? Asians aren't really known for going all out for their dessert, but Yakitori Boy has got you covered with a favorite - mochi ice cream! They've got a variety of flavors available including the ubiquitous green tea, strawberry, mango, and red bean! It's a texture thing, to be sure, with the sweet chewy mochi encasing the flavored ice cream within.
From there, Yakitori Boy's F&B director, Carlos, whisked us off to the second floor karaoke lounge. They've got private rooms available for $30 to $70 depending on the night and size of the room. Keep in mind, reservations are appreciated (and needed!). In fact, they're currently booked a week or two out. But if you're feeling frisky (and brave!), you can opt to pay a few dollars per tunes to sing and showcase your talents to the entire bar area. Clearly a popular choice with the Friday night crowd and it's always great fun to watch strangers belt out some of your favorite hits.
Reliving my college days, a round of sake bombs were bought out to provide us with some liquid courage. A few of us gave it a good try with the mic, but I'll be the first to admit, probably not our finest moment!
But in the end, it's all about having a good time at Yakitori Boy and it was clear that everyone was enjoying themselves. Highly recommend stopping by if you're in the mood for some happy hour, sushi/sashimi, yakitori, and karaoke. You don't even need to sing, it's great fun watching others have at it! I know I'll definitely be hitting up Yakitori Boy again with some friends in the near future. Perhaps even some karaoke, but I think it's safe to say that we'll limit the cacophony to the private rooms! Special thanks to Kate & Joanie from Philly PR Girl, Carlos, restaurant manager Tina, and head chef Alvin for a fantastic night!
FTC Disclaimer: This dinner was provided gratis by Philly PR Girl & Yakitori Boy. Regardless, all opinions are mine alone and, therefore, unbiased.