As soon as a silhouette appears in the doorway of South Brisbane’s Bird’s Nest Yakitori and Bar, “Irasshaimase” is hummed from the other side of the threshold. It’s a traditional Japanese greeting of welcome echoed by the chefs and wait staff as people enter the inviting, dimly lit yakitori bar. It’s only the beginning, but you can tell the staff are friendly, their welcome is warm and the customer service is undeniably perfect.
Bird’s Nest has been sneaking to the top of my ‘Restaurants To Try’ list ever since I devoured a tomato and pork belly skewer at Brisbane’s first Night Noodle Market in July. So when an email popped into my inbox last week and I was invited along, let’s just say I was very quick to reply.
Yakitori directly translates to ‘grilled bird’ and is traditionally cooked on skewers over Binchoutan, a white charcoal with a high burning temperature of 1000+ degrees. It’s an age-old cooking method in Japanese culture, and owners Emi Kamada and Marie Yokoyama pride themselves on being the first Binchoutan in Australia to use the traditional concept.
Bird’s Nest brings yakitori to Brisbane in a casual dining setting where us Brisbane folk can experience the authentic Japanese fare. Perched on a barstool overlooking the grill, we were immediately transported to the streets of Japan as smoky aromas filled the air, soft chatter in a foreign tongue rose and fell and people piled in and left soon after with a satisfied grin.
The menu is predominately yakitori skewers, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re all the same – there’s such a variety of flavours and produce that each combination is different and you simply must try them all (it’s probably best to do this on repeat visits in quick succession, they’re only small but that ‘full’ feeling sneaks up on you very quickly).
And, it’s an indulgence that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated and guilty, all ingredients are fresh, free range and organic, and almost all meals are 100% gluten free, so there’s no reason not to go OTT when ordering.
I had the Omakase (chefs selection) set menu course that comes with 7 chicken skewers and 2 vegetable skewers, a rice course and dessert. If you’re a first timer at Bird’s Nest, this is definitely the way to go! The chefs deliver a new skewer in perfect timing as each previous one is devoured, telling you about the ingredients and how to eat it as they float back to the grill. There’s also a number of other set menu options that vary in price (from $30 to $70 per person) or you can just order the skewers individually, from chicken to pork, vegetable and tofo, or for the game, there’s chicken heart and quail eggs!
Here’s what you can expect (drool on keyboard included):
Eringi – King oyster mushrooms, soy butter
Sasami – Chicken tenderloin with wasabi mayonnaise or Tenderloins with ume and shiso leaves
Hatsu – Chicken heart
Negima – Chicken thigh with shallots
Torikawa – Crispy Chicken skin
Tomato wrapped in pork belly
Tebasaki – Chicken wings
Zukki-ni – Zucchini, soy butter
Torichazuke – Hot chicken broth poured over rice and topped with shredded seaweed and wasabi