The word “Yakitori” in Japanese means skewered chicken and is commonly interchanged with the word “Kushiyaki” which means skewered food in general. Yakitori cooking, uses a a low heat charcoal to slowly cook skewered food.
Usually, Yakitori is traditionally prepared over a long rectangular grill using white charcoal as a heat source and with skewers laid out with across the surface area where only the food is over the heat section. For the U.S, round or rectangular grills are used as well as regular charcoal, although white charcoal is sometimes used when found.
In Japan, yakitori cooking takes place in a yakitori-ya, it is a restaurant that uses an informal setting and provided skewered food, typically, chicken. This chicken is delicately cooked with tare sauce, which is sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.
For the United States, yakitori cooking is essentially any skewed meat or vegetable combination grilled over an open flame, basted with a any number of different sauces and served with a dipping sauce. The main difference between yakitori and the shish-kebab is two fold. Yakitori uses a lower heat than traditional grilling, around 200 to 250 degrees, where as shish-kebab is at normal grill temps. Also Yakitori is either all meat or all vegetable and does not mix on the same skewer.
Some culinary artists further claim the difference is the sauces used, Japanese style sauces as opposed to barbecue sauces, but given that these are prepared separately from the meat or vegetables and grill, there is really no means to use that as a difference.
Yakitori can be prepared on almost any style grill but ceramic encased charcoal is the preferred method due to the heat directional characteristics of the ceramics. Dedicated Yakitori grills can be used to prepare other foods and are usually small and compact and can be used almost anywhere charcoal grills are allowed. Again, white charcoal is the preferred charcoal type as it has a lower heat and last longer but traditional lump charcoal can be used with excellent results. However, it is recommended to not use briquettes.
Five Yakitori Grills
Top Tabletop Grill in the Market
The Marsh Allen Model #115HH-6 Circle Grill is a small, circular grill that is inexpensive and has been on the market in various forms for generations. While it might not serve as well as a full service grill, it does great for yakitori style cooking.
The all steel construction and the adjustable grate, works well with low heat charcoal or a soft bed of lump charcoal. It is an affordable way to have yakitori style cooking at a very reasonable price.
Best Small Yakatori Charcoal Grill
This small, dedicated yakitori, circular grill offers excellent heat production and retention thanks to the ceramic interior. The interior of the Small Yakitori Grill by Fire Sense is hand crafted to focus the heat where it needs to be.
The steel grate, allow for the skewer ends to extend off the grill, while still supporting the main body of the skewer. This is great for a table top or intimate setting and can be used while camping.
Best Portable Charcoal Grill
Another grill that is not specifically designed for yakitori but performs great as a yakitori grill. This rectangular grill – Weber Model #121020 Rectangular Grill has lockable legs and can be used as a table top grill, hibachi grill or yakitori grill making it very versatile for non traditional cooking.
As a yakitori grill, the lid is not needed and can be stored out of the way for future use. For those that enjoy Japanese style cooking, this is a great grill with a lot of usefulness.
Best Large Yakatori Charcoal Grill
Fire Sense produces a range of non traditional grills, and this grill is a dedicated, rectangular, yakitori grill. The Large Yakitori Grill by Fire Sense has the hand crafted, ceramic interior but is has the rectangular shape for more efficient skewer space.
It has dual, adjustable front ventilation to help control the heat and is still small and compact enough for camping or tailgating. This is a great yakitori grill that will produce excellent results.
Best Charcoal Barbecue Grill – Japanese Style
This steel wrapped, ceramic grill is perfect for yakitori cooking and other Japanese style grilling. The KONRO Yakitori Grill is rectangular, thus producing a shape that is perfect for efficient use of skewer space and it is small enough to be used at the table. It has dual, adjustable, vents for heat control and has a large enough surface area to grill for up to 8 people.
This grill is made in Japan and is used for yakitori cooking there as well. This is a top class, yakitori charcoal grill and it is versatile enough to be used for other grilling needs.
Yakitori grilling offers the taste of a unique culture, while still producing delicious and flavorful results. As with any grill, it is important to read and follow the operators manual and this is especially true with grills with ceramics, as the ceramics will absorb flavors to it is best to avoid chemicals.
Again, as with any grill never operate on an uneven surface as tipping can result and never allow flammable materials within five feet of a hot or cooling grill. This is very important for table top grills, as it is necessary to make sure the grill is not sitting on any paper or cloth covering that might be on the table. Also use on a solid but not glass table if possible as the temperature variations can cause glass to cracks.