After their flagship sushi concept, the logical next step for the Sushi’O guys was yakitori, Japanese barbecue on skewers to be consumed with copious booze. So they opened O’Yakitori in the thriving expat enclave on Yanping Road. It falls somewhere between Kota’s Kitchen and the neighborhood skewer cart: it doesn’t approach Kota’s quality, but doesn’t approach its price either. And all in all, it does its job of offering an affordable meatfest to boozing professionals after a long day.
Similar ambience to Sushi’O. Barebones, industrial, cool, and dim, with sparse spots of glow, and plain wood furniture. The upstairs is O’Cocktail, a craft cocktail bar headed by Yao Lu of Alchemist fame. Staff are characteristically meek, but expedient.
Food and drink
To prime your palate for the carnivorous carnage, there’s a selection of cold plates, including pickled cucumbers and jellyfish. The jellyfish could’ve used more sesame oil and salt but it nailed that rubbery crunch that’s evocative of raw cabbage mated with squid.
The staple beak-to-tail chicken skewers are a must, and we especially enjoyed the succulent skin skewer (8RMB) and delicious teriyaki wing (15RMB). The crinkly ribbon of skin crunches and pops with fat and salt, and the wing is as tender as it is meaty. Rip it off the stick and wrench away.
If you crave something heartier, head up the beef parts, which range from tongue (12RMB) to short ribs (22RMB), or the grilled cheeses. Hard to go wrong with the camembert drizzled in balsamic (15RMB), although fans of Kota’s will find this version a bit lackluster. Kota’s cheese blocks are plump with a crisp crust, O’Yakitori’s are runny and goopy like melting wax on a candle wick. Not bad, just messy.
Seafood selections are hit and miss. The grilled black cod is the most expensive item at 58RMB but also one of the best. The squid rings (18RMB) and squid head (22RMB), on the other hand, tasted funky like outdoor cuttlefish chuanr in mid-July. Then again, their prices are comparable.
After ransacking the skewers, you’re gonna need some filler in the form of udon, soba (25-45RMB), or fried rice. Go with the eel fried rice (48RMB). It doesn’t conform to the big slats of sweet unagi over rice you’re likely envisioning right now, and is conversely meager with crumbs of eel interspersed in a jungle of ingredients. Still, the pieces provide sparks of sweet succulence to the oily mound of rice and veg.
Drink prices are agreeable, ranging from 25RMB for an Asahi draft to 45RMB for a bottle of La Chouffe. Sakes begin at 30rmb for a 150ml bottle of Gekkeikan and progress up to north of 650 for Hakkaisan. Schochus set you back 45-58RMB per glass, 245-380 per bottle.
O’Yakitori doesn’t match the pristine quality of Kota’s or Toriyasu (some would even call it the poor man’s version of either), but it costs half as much, and is the perfect place to fuel up on tasty, affordable protein during a night of sudsing, which is yakitori’s function.
O’Yakitori – 167 Yanping Lu, near Wuding Lu (延平路167号, 近武定路). Tel: (0)21-6236-2619. Hours: 11am-2pm lunch, 6-11pm dinner.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].