Chi Chin Pui Pui (Yakitori), Shimokitazawa

The Yajitori joint I'm featuring today is in the north side of Shimokitazawa, in this almost Yasujiro Ozu-esque street with its kodak-moment neons, billboards and a dozen of nice little eateries and bars.
"Chi Chin Pui Pui" doesn't really stand out from the other restaurants around and chances are you may not choose to enter it. However, the owner has the guts of putting at the entrance of the alley a little billboard stating "they think they have the best Yakitori in the world", so one day we got curious and decided to give him a chance of not just seeming like a big mouth.
Well, after few tries, I can say that though it might not be the best grilled chicken in the world, it's always good and reasonably priced. With the funkier "Waraku Goson", these two are the best Yakitori-Yas in Shimokitazawa so far (there are still a few I haven't tried though)

The place is rather trivial, with three tables, a counter and an unusual jazz music playing in the background. The Yakitoris (grilled chicken on a skewer) are charcoal grilled but the manager succeeds in keeping the place rather odor-free despite the smoke.

If you're wondering what the cute Chi Chin Pui Pui expression means, it's a spell used with kids when they hurt themselves, just like the healing incantation "Abracadabra".

As far as the Kushi (skewers) are concerned, we went for the "Sasami" with wasabi, a firm and fibrous breast fillet topped with bits of grated wasabi. If you're into fat-free white meat, this is what you will want to order. I find it a hint overcooked and dry but that may just be personal taste.

The sasami with wasabi

We also went for the Kubi (neck) kushi, a firm, chewy, juicy and tasty part of the chicken. This is a region of the bird that you should definitely try as it's a pleasure to chew on: the combination of fat and muscle is perfect.

The Kubi

The next one is a must if you're into liver. It's called "Han Nama Jo Reba" (half-cooked gourmet liver) and it's a melting in your mouth beauty. It's like eating some nice foie-gras but for a cheap ¥230. The menu says the master uses the best part of a chicken killed on that if that's true, well, it's fresh! All I can say is that it's like butter on your tongue. It's a precious part of the chicken and they don't have tons of it so order quick!

The Liver

The next ingredient is a part of the chicken I don't recall seeing much when I was a kid, but that is on the way of becoming a regular on Yakitori menus. It's the "Bonjiri", the fatty triangular region around the tail bone (the butt if you will), which can be delicious if properly grilled. Credits go to Chi Chin Pui Pui for knowing how to prepare it, that is keeping it crunchily roasted outside and tender inside. Some people may find this block full of collagen a bit too fatty, but I love it. Once again, just like the "Kawa" (chicken skin), it's all about knowing how to keep it nicely roasted without burning it, and the master seems to know the right timing.

The butt or Bonjiri

The non meat menu's nice too:
I recommend the Nasu Yaki (Grilled egg-plant), which is just some grilled cuts of fresh eggplant topped with Katsuo-Bushi (shavings of dry bonito). As simple as the recipe is, it is still pretty good, and the eggplant is buttery smooth.

From Chi Chin Pui Pui

You can also order the Yamaimo No Asazuke ( Quickly pickled Japanese yam potato), with its slightly slimy but overall crunchy texture and nice sour aroma. Add a little wasabi for a kick. It should go nicely with a beer.

From Chi Chin Pui Pui

This one is interesting: the Abokado No Aburiyaki (barbecued avocado). It is brought to you with some soy sauce and mayo in the middle, which you mix with the grilled fruit flesh. I think it tastes like grilled potato but I may be wrong. Try it for yourself!
And last but not the least, the Tori No Soup Bukkake Meshi (bowl of rice topped with chicken broth). This one is really nice so you should definitely order it should your appetite allow it. The chicken broth tastes like...well, chicken bouillon. Like the one you buy in dices at grocery stores. It's unusually dense in taste but not too salty and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The rice used is some organic "aigamo mai", a special rice harvested in fields where Aigamo ducks are released few weeks after the seed. The happy ducks eat the bugs and weeds, allowing farmers not to rely on pesticides. Great!

From Chi Chin Pui Pui

Two beers, a glass of plum sake Umeshu and all that food amounted to ¥5,000. Reasonable isn't it?

Chi Chin Pui Pui is open everyday from 18:00pm to 03:00am
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-33-12
Click here for a MAP