My father has one sister and four brothers- all of who are in the restaurant business. The Akaboris are destined to work with food, what can I say?? My brother just spent some time in a hoity-toity restaurant in Barcelona, and I just started a job at a Spanish restaurant in Menlo Park. As LOST's John Locke would say: This is our destiny.
When I was in Japan in November, I went to visit my father's oldest brother, who lives in their newly renovated childhood home on a busy street in Shinkoiwa (considered "Shitamachi", a historically seedier part of Tokyo). It's so trippy to think that my dad grew up here. But that's besides the point- the coolest thing about coming here was that they put a yakitori shop in their front yard!!!!
The name on the sign says "Kokekokko~" which is the equivalent to "Cock-a-doodle-doo" in English. Yakitori = Chicken = Chicken noises = Get it??? Isn't it so silly? I love it.
The red awning says "Motsu yakitori", which must be the official name. Motsu means tripe in Japanese, but that doesn't make any sense since tripe is beef. Hmmm... there must be another meaning behind this, I'll need to ask my dad.
My dad taught my uncle how to make the special yakitori sauce and also how to completely deconstruct a whole chicken so no part goes unused. My uncle wakes up every morning, gets a new batch of chickens, and spends the day cutting them up.
Here's the fridge, with all the different chicken parts neatly packed away. There's liver, breast meat, stomach meat, tongue, wings, cartilage of the joints (my favorite!), skin, it's all there. Plus they do garlic and green onion.
They open up for business every day around 4pm, so they get a lot of people walking home from work or housewives that are trying to figure out what to do for dinner. The sticks are only 90yen a piece (about 90 cents)- super cheap, so they sell out every night by 8pm or 9pm. Isn't that amazing???
Making all the yakitori the same price, no matter what it is, keeps the finances easy peasy.
The yakitori grill- where all the magic unfolds.
Interior shot- as you can see, it's a super busy street.
My uncle and aunt.
The shack is literally just three steps from their front door. Here are my cousins in the walkway between the two.
It's truly a brilliant operation- their children are still young so they get to eat breakfast altogether, then my uncle and aunt prep all morning and afternoon while the kids are at school, the kids help out when they get home, and everything is done by dinner time.
They put out a few folding tables and chairs out front and sell beers for people who want a quick snack before heading home.