Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zenyaren: 7 Regional Yakitori House Under One Roof

Where can you find a place that serves each region's famous yakitori under one roof? At Zenyaren, you can. Operated by  Zenya National Yakitori Association, Zenyaren's menu is a grand combination of individual menus of the famous Izakaya from six regions: Hokkaido, Fukushima, Saitama, Ehime, Yamaguchi and Fukuoka.
The draw here is that diners can enjoy all the regional yakitori without having to travel to each place. Since we are greedy, we had the platter of 7 different skewers (1280) ご当地比べセット, by the 7 participating restaurants from 6 regions. Yes, the number is 7 because Hokkaido has two representative izakaya house.To be honest, I can't tell which stick belong to which prefecture even though we had the pictorial guide at the table. But there are some sticks that stood out while some fell through our short term memory.
There is chicken intestine stick from Hokkaido "Tatsumi"; onion pork stick from Hokkaido "Ippei"; chicken wings from Yamaguchi "Chikuzen"; chicken liver sticks with leek; black pork belly from Saitama "Hibiki"; beef skewer from Fukuoka "Teppou". 

Some of my favorites is the chicken wings, pork belly and beef. However, eating can be quite cumbersome as each specific skewer is supposed to go with a certain dip (yuzu pepper, special miso tare or mustard) 

But how come there is only 6 skewers on the platter? In fact, the seventh dish is a plate of chicken skins from Ehime Prefecture. The first few bites were still alright, especially when they are crispy fried and still clung on to some meat. However, they were overall too greasy and most were squidgy or rubbery. So it came as a rather major cultural shock to learn that chicken skin is local delicacy of Ehime. 
Apart from the chicken skin nightmare, the other ala carte dishes were very tasty. Take for example the black charcoal yakisoba from Hokkaido "Tatsumi". At 580, the noodles came in sizable portion and was just rightly seasoned. The no-frills noodles were less oilier than most Yakisoba and needed neither meat nor greens to boost its flavours.
However, I felt that the chicken torimeshi (2 for 580) from the same shop could use a stronger chicken broth to cook the rice. It was a little too bland to my liking.The Mitsuki Tsukune(580), two oblong shaped minced chicken beneath a full moon aka raw egg yolk, was a modest homemade dish. Yet, the lean meat with little bits of fats was smooth and succulent after being mixed in the thickish shoyu tare and runny egg yolk. 
We did not plan what to order but all the items except from the platter came from the two izakayas from Hokkaido. With the exception of the assorted skewers platter, I thought they were modestly priced and better than most franchise Izakaya fare. However, our dining experience was affected by the smokers surrounding our tables. So it is most advised to request for individual rooms. Otherwise, one would not smell of smoky grills but cigarette smoke after the meal. 
Zenyaren 全や連総本店
B2F Tokyo Sankei Bldg, 1-7-2 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Weekdays Lunch 11:30am-2pm (Limited Set Menus Only)
Weekdays Dinner 5pm-11pm
Sat/Sun/PH: 12pm-10pm
Access: Ootemachi Station
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