My friend Eric had sent me a link about a new Yakitori restaurant that recently opened in Baltimore. For those who might not know, Yakitori is a wonderful Japanese culinary tradition of grilling various types of skewered meats and veggies. Having spent some time in Tokyo earlier this year, I was enthralled at the prospect of having this type of eatery virtually on my doorstep.
Tonight I made the trip downtown with Kim (my girlfriend) and my buddy Gerry to check out if this place was merely some kind of novelty, or if it could truly be the real deal. I am extremely pleased to say that this restaurant has hit the nail on the head in every respect.
Almost immediately after arriving, the owner came over to the table to greet us and explain the concept behind the restaurant. He also explained that as his place has only been open for about a month, that they are still working on some new ideas and menu items. He told us that he would bring over some new items free of charge in exchange for our feedback. This type of hands on approach with one's customers surely shows an owner who cares about who he is serving and what is being served in his establishment. Bravo sir.
The menu has a large variation of a-la-carte Yakitori choices, combination platters, Japanese Entrees, as well as some Korean choices. Being that it was our first experience with the place, we decided to stick with the Yakitori combination, as well a few Japanese entrees to share.
The first item to arrive at our table was one of the aforementioned "test" dishes. This was explained to us as a New York Prime Steak, partially frozen to be sliced paper thin, wrapped around scallions, and then quickly grilled. I don't know what further testing really needs to be done but this should be a signature dish of the restaurant. It was the perfect size for a single bite, the quality of the meat was excellent, and scallions complimented the steak very well.
Almost immediately afterward, another new dish arrived on the house. A type of fried tofu (I don't recall the name) sitting in a soy based sauce. It arrived with piping hot centers, and was mild in flavor without being bland. I am not normally a fan of softer tofu, but this was quite nice.
Gerry ordered some soft shell crab. I normally wouldn't have gone for this choice as the crab is not locally in season right now. To my surprise the crab was quite good and the tempura batter was not too heavy. The portion was actually larger than what is pictured, but it looked so tempting that my fellow diners and I had to jump in and try it before it occurred to me that I had yet to take a picture.
We wanted to try a little bit of everything when it came to the Yakitori itself, so we opted for the Combination D platter ($29.95). This consisted of a large array of different meats and 30 skewers in total. I should say now that the menu prices here are insanely low. The combination was more than enough to feed the three of us. All of the skewers were tender and did not taste like they had ever seen a freezer. It took me right back to nights in Shibuya.
We finished our dinner with Okonomoyaki. This is a type of Japanese pancake with various toppings finished off with a Japanese mayo. It was probably a bit much to order after all that we had already eaten, but I made room. Okonomoyaki is not in anyway light fare, so I would suggest bringing an appetite if you're going to attempt to tackle this dish.
Famous Yakitori One is exactly the type of place that the Baltimore area has been screaming for. There are no real attempts at being flashy or overly complicated. The dishes were all very straightforward, fresh, and delicious. I will be returning in the very near future, and I suggest you make the trip to try this place as well. It was noticeable in some respects that the eatery is still finding itself, but if they are managing to get this much right this early on, the future should be very bright for Famous Yakitori One.
Yakitori goes best with a group of friends and some beers. Sadly the only draft choice at the time we visited was Coors Light. They had an nice selection of bottled Japanese beer, but I would love to see some draft Asian beer available down the line. This place is open until 2am so its the perfect setting after a night out in the bars. Go seek out this awesome food!!!
World of Eats Rating - 9/10
Famous Yakitori One
2101 Maryland Ave
Baltimore, MD 21218