Finger Lickin’ Chicken on Sticks – Nagoya’s Best Yakitori Restaurants

ByBert Wishart
Feb 28, 2022

Finger Lickin’ Chicken on Sticks – Nagoya’s Best Yakitori Restaurants

When you think about Japanese food, it is probably sushi that most readily comes to mind, followed by rice and miso soup, with knife-wheeling teppanyaki chefs serving up wagyu completing the triumvirate. However, perhaps one of the most varied – not to mention popular – is ‘yakitori,’ and that it is not considered one of Japan’s outstanding contributions to the culinary pantheon is a shocking state of affairs.

As it so perfectly accompanies a few post-work drinks, grilled chicken (a pretty literal translation of yakitori) served on skewers is pretty much ubiquitous at izakayas and yakitori-yas (yakitori restaurants), and in Nagoya, you can find some absolutely stupendous spots at which to dine on this quintessential chicken treat.

If you’re not acquainted with yakitori, check out the JIS guide here.


It is perhaps apt that one of the best skewer-based restaurants is (presumably) named after Japan’s most famed swordsman, but Musashi in the Meieki area is well up to the task. There are many booth and table spots in the restaurant, but the place to be is at their L-shaped counter, with the fresh skewers presented before you as you watch the grill chef, center stage on a raised dias, work his magic.

The one problem with Musashi is its popularity, and you often need to book up a couple of weeks in advance to get a table, but the wait is definitely worth it. Fortunately for me, my apartment is just a few stories above the Meieki branch (there are others in Sakae and Higashisakura). On nights that I can’t get a table, I can sit on my balcony and enjoy the scent of fried chicken wafting up from below.

Where: Nagoya, Nakamura Ward, Meieki, 2 Chome−41−1 MK Building 1F (map)


If you are looking for an intimate (and slightly upmarket) yakitori experience, Toritsuri near the International Center could be just the ticket. With only counter seats available, you can enjoy watching the master at work while sampling some of the yakitori staples such as thigh, seseri, and tsukune, as well as more unusual delights including seafood and chouchin (the latter of which looks odd but is actually fantastic).

Many chicken dishes are made with Nagoya’s local cochin chicken, which means that you are getting top-quality produce seasoned with two types of salt and grilled over Binchotan charcoal. And if you’re not sure what to go for, request the day’s special set, and you will receive the chef’s personal recommendations.

Where: 1 Chome-46-15 Nagono, Nakamura Ward, Nagoya (map)


Though it could not be more different from Toritsuri in aesthetics if it tried, Torimitsu in Nishi Ward is by far my favorite yakitori-ya in Nagoya. Now, don’t be put off by its appearances, the congealed grease on the overhead fans, and the blackened marks on the walls because you will not find better handmade yakitori anywhere else.

Personal recommendations include the tsukune and the kushi-katsu, both made using shiso leaf, which gives it an extraordinary taste. The deep-fried liver is just out of this world. The tempura chicken is a firm favorite away from the yakitori, particularly when washed down with a citrusy shikuwasa sour.

Where: 2 Chome-19-4 Meieki, Nishi Ward, Nagoya (map)


Though nestled within Sakae’s Nishiki backstreets, Hikoya is small, cozy, and relaxing to the extent that you forget the hustle and bustle of the street life outside. Opened by the ‘master’ of nearby popular yakitori-ya Okazu, Hikoya has both counter seating and small private rooms.

If you are looking for a cheap place to grab a bite and a few drinks, this is not the place for you, as it’s a little pricey, but sometimes you pay for what you get. The tsukune is highly recommended (and so is the torisashi – raw chicken), but if you are stuck for ideas, just ask for the dishes of the day, and the master will be only too happy to help. Please note that at the time of writing, Hikoya was closed due to governmental coronavirus restrictions and will resume business on March 7, 2022.

Where: Naka Ward, Sakae, 4 Chome−7−1 New Yutaka Building 1F (map)


A few minutes’ walk from Hoshigaoka Station, Torikou is a stylish yakitori-ya that would make for a great date spot. Priding itself on its seasonal dishes, Torikou serves up yakitori that you might not find elsewhere.

Counter seating, pair tables, or tables for groups of up to four are ideal for a pleasant dining experience, unlike what you might have at the more rowdy yakitori-ya. As we are still in the grip of winter at the time of writing, as well as top-quality yakitori dishes, you can also enjoy their seasonal hot-pot nabe, perfect for warming you within.

Where: 15-34 Hoshigaoka Motomachi, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya (map)


Speaking of more rowdy yakitori-ya, welcome to Torikizoku. I was not sure whether or not to include this on the list, as it is certainly not the best food. However, if you are looking for a good experience on a casual night out, then it’s a great choice, no matter where in the city you are

From the moment you enter the restaurant, the hubbub of boozing and carousing mingling with the shouts of irasshaimase from the staff really gets you into a party mood. As I said, the food isn’t wonderful, but it is cheap (all dishes are 298 JPY) and cheerful, making it popular for students and partygoers either pre-gaming or finishing off a night out.

Where: 33 locations around the city (Store locator)

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Image via: Mark Guthrie Own Work

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

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