Popular neighborhood eatery and bar excels with simple, authentic food and breezy informality.
January 21st, 2013
Opened in mid-2011 by Matt Abergel -the former executive chef at Zuma Hong Kong- Yardbird rapidly became one of the hottest and most talked about dining spots in Hong Kong. Well into its second year of operation, Yardbird nightly packs in the crowds and continues to deliver an authentic yakatori ( Japanese word for chicken grilled on a skewer) dining experience in a vibrant, sociable atmosphere. Inspired by the traditional yakatori restaurants of Japan, Yardbird was conceived as an amiable neighborhood style eatery, the kind of place where friends and colleagues gather after work in the evenings for a casual meal and some drinks. Maintaining a strict “No Reservations” policy since first opening has not deterred a constant flow of enthusiastic diners, with a well-managed queuing process- including serving drinks- ensuring expectations are not disappointed.
The kitchen team at Yardbird serve up a consistently high quality, authentic yakatori cuisine- prepared with impressive attention to detail and elegant simplicity of presentation. The focus is on chicken- and all parts of the bird are cooked over the charcoal grill- from the familiar cuts of thigh, breast and wings, to the less frequently encountered heart, gizzard, skin and more. Complimenting the cuisine is a serious beverage program that encompasses enticing selections of sake, shochu, Japanese whisky, cocktails, beers and wine- all carefully selected to make interesting pairings with the various flavors of the food.
Yardbird opens Monday to Saturday- from 6:00 pm until late. It can be advisable to arrive early as the supply of the scarcer cuts is limited, and the early diners frequently consume all there is of the most popular dishes.
The street level floor space of Yardbird features a full glass facade with options of high tables or seating at the bar counter.
Located at what was until recently the less fashionable Sheung Wan end of the SOHO nightlife area behind Central, Yardbird occupies a compact space set over two levels, with a full glass frontage onto the street. The interior decor exudes a rational simplicity, with clean lines and minimal detailing creating an informal space where guests naturally feel comfortable. At the street level space, the L shaped stainless steel topped bar in one corner is the centre of activity, with the team of enthusiastic young bartenders serving up the drinks and engaging guests with an affable informality. Softly lighted shelves behind the bar showcase the impressive liquor collection and infusion jars, adding a decorative highlight to the room. A timber staircase leads down to the lower level, where the buzz of activity in the glistening stainless steel open kitchen provides the culinary dramatics for diners seated in this section.
The L shaped stainless steel bar counter- with house-infusion jars showcased on the back-bar display shelves.
The pared-back interior decor utilises a neutral toned palette with natural timbers, and clean uncluttered walls, decorated only with menu blackboards.
A lower level houses the open kitchen and additional dining table settings.
The gleaming, stainless steel surfaced kitchen is the focal point of the lower level dining space
Owner/Chef Matt Abergel has created a straightforward menu for Yardbird, with the concise assemblage of dishes grouped under three categories- ”Smaller”, “Yakatori” and “Bigger“. The “Smaller” items encompass snacks and salads for sharing- varieties of pickles, edamame, grilled or tempura Maitake Mushroom, Seared Yellowtail Salad, and the popular balls of Sweet Corn Tempura. The authentic “Yakatori” dishes are perfectly executed and full of flavour- utilising all edible parts of the chicken- neck, breast, wings and thigh, plus more exotic cuts like heart, liver, gizzard, oyster and knee. And the more substantial dishes under “Bigger” include Fried Chicken, and the intriguing KFC- Korean Fried Cauliflower. The yakatori skewers are grilled over the traditional Bincho charcoal- derived from oak and burning at a lower, more stable temperature than other common charcoals. Limited numbers of chickens are sourced fresh daily from local farmers in the New Territories ensuring a consistent supply of high quality produce.
Selections from the Food & Beverage Menu
Sweet Corn Tempura- salt, pepper. From the “Smaller” selections.
Fried Chicken- garlic and Kewpie mayonnaise. From the “Bigger” selections.
Meat Ball- tare, egg yolk. A popular “Yakatori” dish
Beverages are taken seriously at Yardbird, with an impressive program that is founded on offering a wide selection of premium Japanese sake, shochu, and whisky at approachable prices, together with bold and creative cocktails, plus imported Japanese beers, and wines- mostly of Italian origin. Drinks are specifically fashioned to compliment the flavours of the food, and a great deal of attention goes into providing the service team with a solid knowledge base on recommendations for matching different drink styles with specific dishes. The sake selection includes a representative range of the varying grades and distinctive styles of sake, from the more full-bodied “junmai” style that pairs nicely with the spicy meat dishes, to the more subtle taste and aromas of the super-premium “junmai daiginjo” style.
Yardbird serves exclusively Japanese whisky- with the expertly curated list offering over 30 labels- sourced from both famous distilleries and lesser known boutique producers. Whisky is served “Japanese style”- either with hand-carved ice balls (for slow melting and minimal dilution)- or neat. The compact list of cocktails at Yardbird feature finely crafted drinks with strong Japanese influences in the ingredients and mostly made with premium Japanese spirits. Classics include the Rob Roy- Nikka whisky and sweet vermouth; Old Fashioned- Taketsuru 12 yr, sugar, bitters; and Jolly Rancher- Ume/Shiso Infused Rice Shochu and watermelon is one of the sublime house creations.
House Label Sake- Yardbird Junmai and Yardbird Junmai Nigori- 200ml / bottle
Bloody Kim Jong Il- a twist on the Bloody Mary- Vodka, kimchi puree, Bulldog sauce, yuzu kosho sauce, tomato juice, lemon juice, Korean chili salt on glass rim.
Shino- Beefeater Gin, shiso leaves, Okinawa black sugar, lemon chunks, soda water.
Premium Japanese Whisky- served by 50 ml glass with hand-carved ice rock, or neat.
Yardbird- yakatori restaurant, Hong Kong
Address: 33 – 35 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan. Hong Kong
MTR: Sheung Wan station – Exit A1 – 10 minutes walk.
Enquiries: +852. 2547 9273 No Reservations taken.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/yardbirdrestaurant
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday : 6:00 pm ~ 12:00 am midnight