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Published September 19th 2014
Must love chicken
The Bird's Nest Restaurant is a small yakitori restaurant and bar nestled on Melbourne St on the South Brisbane/West End border.
Birds Nest Yakitori and Bar, 220 Melbourne St, South Brisbane
I was fortunate enough to be invited along to an event there hosted by Japanese drinks company, Choya. We were able to sample not only Choya Umeshu cocktails, but the talented chefs at the Bird's Nest Restaurant put together a beautiful menu of canapés to compliment the Choya drinks and showcase their wonderful selection of Japanese inspired food. With the emphasis on inspired - the food was different and every piece incredible.
I was fortunate to find this Yakitori and Bar when I was invited to sample Choya
Alongside the different cocktails, displaying the versatility of Choya Umeshu, came an array of different canapés most revolving around the yakitori theme of food, usually skewered, cooked over Binchoutan, or white charcoal, giving the food a delicious traditional, smoky and distinctly, yakitori flavour. Yakitori literally translates as "grilled bird" with many dishes containing chicken.
Found on the South Brisbane/West End border, you must love chicken to eat Yakitori
The restaurant boasts seating for 50 people in two different rooms, including a large table which seats about 16. Each table is adorned with a tray of accompaniments, including two small pots; one containing Shio; Himalayan salt (the most unsalty salt I have tasted) which brings out the flavours in charcoal grilled food and the other containing a medium-spiced chilli powder. Both make amazing additions to the skewers. A secret sauce called Tare is used to flavour much of the yakitori and is made from gluten free soy sauce.
The chilli and Himalayan salt add to the amazing flavours
We started with an egg omelette, which, while not strictly yakitori, made the perfect start and accompaniment to the Choya Umeshu Classic we were drinking. Other dishes we sampled included Puchi Tomato, which are super sweet tomatoes marinated in white wine and one of the most mouth-watering pâtés I have had the pleasure of tasting. The large bowl of salted soya beans were surprisingly delicious and worked well with both the sake based drinks, as well as the Choya Umeshu salted margaritas were we drinking.
The yakitori chicken skewers were what we were really waiting for. One was served with a slightly sour Ume sauce (made even more delicious with the additions of the chilli and Himalayan salt from the table pots) and adorned with sour (but perfectly complimentary) Ume leaves. The meatballs were possibly the highlight of the menu, infused with their secret sauce - slightly soy tasting, a little salty, and absolutely delicious. The haloumi with zucchini and Tare sauce was a very close second. And the meal was rounded out perfectly finishing with a Plum-gatto, where a sweet Choya and rum mixture was poured over ice cream, topped with a strawberry.
chicken meatballs with the Bird's Nest secret sauce
Usually you can pick from one of three options for dinner - the recommended option is Omakase Course, or Chef's Selection for $55/person, which includes sake. Or if you don't feel like a full meal, Bird's Nest sets are priced from $25 - $40 per person, depending on your choice of skewered set. Or you can order directly from an a la carte menus for only $4 or $5 per skewer. The bar boasts an incredibly impressive selective of Japanese drinks from bottled or draft Japanese beers to hot or cold sake to Japanese Scotch Whiskey and other Japanese specialities. Plus there is a good selection of local options in the well-stocked bar.
Birds Nest is open for dinner from 5.30pm every night and for lunch on Friday only from midday.
While some of these dishes we sampled were adapted to compliment the cocktails we were tasting at the Choya event, many of them appear on the regular Birds Nest dinner menus. A shamefully inexperienced yakitori eater, it certainly gave me the taste to try more.