Torikizoku: Popular yakitori chain found across Japan

A Torikizoku location in Osaka, one of over 600 in Japan
A Torikizoku location in Osaka, one of over 600 in Japan

Founded in 1986, Torikizoku has established itself as one of Japan’s most popular izakaya chains, with almost 700 locations nationwide. Today, the chain is well known for its affordable prices, cozy atmosphere, and freshly prepared yakitori skewers. You can find Torikizoku locations in major cities including Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya), Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hiroshima.

There are many reasons to visit Torikizoku. First, they offer various yakitori skewers, including chicken, beef, pork, and vegetables. Second, their prices are affordable, with all items set at 360 yen (or about $2.55). Third, at Torikizoku, customers can order through a tablet, allowing tourists a hassle-free experience. Finally, if you are dining alone, Torikizoku is a great choice.

While it may not be considered the best izakaya in Japan, and it’s a chain, Torikizoku remains one of the best values for yakitori. Also, you can always expect the same delicious food and efficient service in a casual environment, no matter which location you visit.

On my recent visit to Osaka, I stopped by one of their many branches located near Osaka station.

Interior of Torikizoku

While each Torikizoku restaurant differs, most locations feature a similar décor and ambiance. On my visit, the ambiance was cozy and warm. The décor was typical of an izakaya with rustic wooden furnishings and dim lighting.

Scattered around the restaurant were booths taken by couples and groups, separated by narrow walkways. There was also counter seating, perfect for those dining alone.

While dining alone on my visit, I sat at the counter, giving me a view into the kitchen. I enjoyed watching the chefs prepare plates of food and grill skewers over fire.

As with most izakayas, the ambiance was lively and loud, with the sounds of guests enjoying food and drinks, staff members walking around, and chefs in the kitchen. The aroma of grilled meats in the air further enhanced the overall experience..

Torikizoku Menu

The menu at Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
The menu at Torikizoku

The highlight of the menu at Torikizoku was yakitori, which are pieces of chicken grilled on a skewer. Options included skewers of breast, thigh, wings, meatballs, skin, liver, gizzards, heart, cartilage, neck meat, and more.

While chicken was the star, they offered a few other skewer options. This included beef, pork belly, cheese, and stuffed peppers. Other options included fried chicken dishes, chicken and rice, noodles, yam teppanyaki, croquette, fries, potato salad, and dessert.

As for drinks, you had everything you would expect at an izakaya. This included beer, highballs, gin, cocktails, lemon sour, and wine. There was also tea, soft drinks, lemonade, juice, and more.

During my recent visit in March 2023, the menu priced all items at 350 yen (or about $2.48) after tax. As of July 2023, according to Torikizoku’s website, all items are now 360 yen (or about $2.55) after tax.

In addition, you can view the full Torikizoku menu by visiting https://torikizoku.co.jp/menu/.

Ordering at Torikizoku

Ordering is easy with tablets at each table, Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Ordering is easy with tablets at each table

At all Torikizoku locations, you will find a tablet at each table. This is also true if you are sitting at the counter. These tablets, similar to those found at Kura Sushi in Osaka, Mori Mori Sushi in Kanazawa, and Uobei in Tokyo, are used to order food and drinks.

One of the great things about the tablets is the availability to view images of dishes and order without knowing Japanese. As a tourist, this made things hassle-free as I could order through the tablet in my preferred language. As for me, there was no language barrier as I could order from the menu in English.

Momo Kizokuyaki Tare (Chicken Thigh and Leek)

Momo Kizokuyaki Tare (Chicken Thigh and Leek Skewer), Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Momo Kizokuyaki Tare (Chicken Thigh and Leek Skewer)

If I could only order one type of yakitori in Japan, it would have to be Momo Kizokuyaki Tare (Chicken Thigh and Leek). In my opinion, the flavor of chicken thighs is better than any other part of a chicken.

For the price, I was surprised by the large pieces of chicken thighs. My only complaint was the chicken was slightly overcooked. While not dry, I prefer it to be cooked a little less.

In between each chunk of chicken thigh were charred pieces of leeks which added an earthy yet spicy onion-like flavor. Coating the leeks and chicken was a salty and sweet sauce which complemented the smokiness of the grilled chicken.

Tsukune Tare (Chicken Meatballs)

Tsukune Tare (Chicken Meatball Skewer), Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Tsukune Tare (Chicken Meatball Skewer)

If you are trying yakitori for the first time, or you are a selective eater, then the Tsukune Tare (Chicken Meatballs) might be a great choice. While simple, it is one of my favorite types of yakitori.

These yakitori skewers, which were piping hot when they arrived at my table, were made with fresh ground chicken marinated in a salty and sweet sauce. The chicken was then molded into balls before grilled.

The result was a smoky meatball which was charred on the outside while moist and tender on the inside.

Served on the side was a dollop of horseradish mustard. I enjoyed how the spicy, pungent sauce complemented the smoky, salty meatballs.

Tebasaki Tare (Chicken Wings)

Tebasaki Tare (Chicken Wings), Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Nagoya style Tebasaki Tare (Chicken Wings)

Next up was Tebasaki Tare (Chicken Wings). Tebasaki, a Nagoya specialty, consists of Japanese-style deep-fried chicken wings seasoned with a spicy pepper blend. The plate arrived with three beautifully prepared wings which glistened under the lights.

Each wing was charred on the outside after being grilled, resulting in a distinct smoky flavor. I found the skin to be crispy and rich. Like the other yakitori I ordered, the flavors were sweet and salty.

As for the meat, it wasn’t dry, but some wings were not as moist as I would have expected. But, with the crispy skin and delicious flavors, I had no complaints.

Piman Nikuzume (Chicken Stuffed Pepper)

Piman Nikuzume (Chicken Stuffed Pepper), Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Piman Nikuzume (Chicken Stuffed Pepper)

One of the more unique options on the menu was Piman Nikuzume (Chicken Stuffed Pepper). As with the meatballs, this plate came with a spicy, pungent mustard.

The grilled pepper was both tender and crunchy. While the pepper was not spicy, I enjoyed its distinct smoky flavor. Stuffed inside each pepper was ground chicken which was crispy and charred on the outside while moist on the inside.

The smoky chicken, tender yet crunchy pepper, and spicy mustard made this a new favorite of mine.

Tori Ten (Chicken Tempura)

Tori Ten (Chicken Tempura), Torikizoku, Osaka, Japan
Tori Ten (Chicken Tempura)

Though Torikizoku is best known for its yakitori, the menu also features other items including Tori Ten (Chicken Tempura). Among the available fried chicken choices, this particular dish appealed to me.

I found the golden brown tempura batter to be light and airy with a crispy bite. While rich and oily, the breading was never soggy.

As for the chicken, it was moist and juicy and could not have been cooked any better. Some of the bits of fat attached to the chicken melted in my mouth. Also, I appreciated the contrast between the crispy breading and the moist chicken.

Served on the side was a thick dipping sauce that was bitter, sweet, and flavorful. The combination of the rich sauce and chicken was the definition of umami.

Service

At Torikizoku, my interaction with the staff was limited as I ordered plates of food through a tablet. But, the staff members who greeted me at the door, and brought items out to my table, were friendly.

I also had one issue where I accidentally ordered two plates of the same item. The staff immediately removed the item from my bill. I appreciated the attentiveness of the staff.

Conclusion

Though Torikizoku is a chain and far from the best izakaya in Japan, I find myself returning time after time. While there are better and more expensive places for yakitori, I always know what to expect at Torikizoku.

There are many reasons to like Torikizoku, including its budget-friendly menu, casual atmosphere, and tablet ordering system. And while simple, the food never disappoints and portions are large. In addition, if you are dining alone, Torikizoku is an excellent choice, even though izakayas are commonly known as communal spots.

If you are looking for an affordable izakaya with a wide variety of yakitori options in a casual environment, I recommend visiting Torikizoku on your next trip to Japan.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly menu
  • Casual and boisterous ambiance
  • Locations all over Japan
  • Open late

Cons

  • Some might find the menu to be too limited

Hours

Monday-Sunday: 5:00PM-5:00AM

Address

2-5-20 Sonezaki B1, Kita Ward, Osaka 530-0057, Japan
GPS Coordinates: 34.69946,135.50101

Map



Website

https://www.torikizoku.co.jp/

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

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