When I learned from a TV program that “Hakata has a food called torikawa (chicken skin),” I immediately went online and listed one popular restaurant for “torikawa yaki” for future visits to Hakata. The restaurant was established in April 1999, and the founder’s son has taken over the business since 2016. The restaurant has become a nationally recognized yakitori (grilled chicken) restaurant that attracts customers from all over Japan as well as locals.
I had been looking forward to eating Hakata’s famous torikawayaki at Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop for a long time, so I called the restaurant one month before my planned visit to Fukuoka to reserve a table. It was a pouring night on the day of my visit, but when I went to the restaurant at 7 p.m. when I made the reservation…
Despite the heavy rain, customers kept coming in… Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop is a restaurant like this!
Despite the heavy rain, the interior of Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop was already almost full of customers. The somewhat low-lit restaurant has the atmosphere of a popular yakitori restaurant that is showing its age, with a total of 23 seats, including 7 counter seats, in a cozy space. The space between customers gives the impression of being quite cramped, and you may even feel a little cramped during your stay. Even if you use the seating area in the back of the restaurant, the maximum number of customers is probably about 8.
I stayed at Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop for about 30 to 40 minutes this time, but during that time, customers kept coming in… but the customers who came to the restaurant without reservations were all sunk. It was raining heavily outside, but the popularity of the restaurant was frankly amazing! I felt it was amazing. I think you almost have to make a reservation in advance for this restaurant. If possible, it would be better to call the restaurant about two weeks before the date of use to reserve a seat.
I had our first experience of the Hakata specialty, torikawa yaki, at the Shiragane Head Shop of Kawaya, a regular on the 100 best yakitori restaurants award of the Tabelog! And how does it taste?
Let me introduce you to the signature dish, Torikawa yaki, at Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop, a regular winner on the 100 best yakitori restaurants on the Tabelog. The price is 130 yen per piece, excluding tax. Let’s order about 10 pieces for now…
This is the Hakata specialty, Torikawa yaki. Chicken skin does not mean any kind of chicken skin, but only the skin of the chicken’s neck part is used (because it is thinner, softer, and less fatty than other parts of the chicken). The process of preparing a large quantity of chicken neck skin, skewering it, grilling it, dipping it in sauce, and letting it rest… was repeated for six days. The chicken is ready to eat when the skin has tightened and the sauce has been fully absorbed. Don’t you think a lot of time and effort went into making each skewer? But when I first heard about this, I thought to myself, “Where did they put all the skin from the neck and all the other chicken parts?
The chicken is grilled slowly for six days, so the excess fat is completely drained off, and the surface is crispy, The surface is crispy, but when you bite into it, it has a firm elasticity, and a little bit of the remaining fat inside comes out slowly. The most impressive thing for me personally was the elasticity of the chicken skin, which was very muscular and had a macho texture. I felt like I was being shown a new world of yakitori, thinking, “If that chicken skin is grilled slowly over a period of six days, it will have this texture…”
But to be honest, it did not have the impact I had initially hoped for. This torikawa yaki has a good amount of fat removed, but the sauce is also quite light in flavor. The surface is not burnt, so the aroma has little impact as well, and there is nothing to remember except the elasticity… I guess that is why it is possible to order 10 pieces for now. I didn’t feel like ordering “10 more! I was not in the mood to order another 10….
So, I did not stay long at the restaurant that day, but ordered three other yakitori dishes and quickly left. Well, the main reason was that there were not many options on the menu other than yakitori, and I did not feel like I was going to be full. Personally, I think the smartest way to use this restaurant is to have a drink with 10 torikawas and a beer and leave quickly…. I think it is a perfect first stop when you want to go on a nightly restaurant crawl.
This time, I ordered a dish that I wondered what it was when I saw the menu, “Shigiyaki Sasami” (two pieces, priced at 380 yen + tax). Shigiyaki” is supposedly an eggplant that has been oiled, dipped in miso (soybean paste), and seared, but the shigiyaki wasabi shoyu (wasabi soy sauce) was used instead of miso.
When I put it in my mouth, I was surprised at how fluffy it was. The surface of this shigiyaki was only lightly seared and the inside was rare. However, the meat was well heated all the way to the center, and the stringiness was properly handled, so I was able to enjoy its fluffy texture to the fullest. Shigiyaki is said to be one of Hakata’s specialties, so it is a must-order for business travelers.
Franchised and now operating 16 stores nationwide… Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop is a 5-minute walk from Yakuin Station on the Nishitetsu Tenjin Omuta Line, the closest station to the restaurant.
Kawaya is now franchised and operates a total of 16 branches not only in Fukuoka Prefecture, but also in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Sapporo, and other major metropolitan areas (as of November 2023). The menu seems to be the same at these branches, so you can enjoy the same yakitori as at the main restaurant, including the famous Torikawa yaki. If you have a branch near your home or office, please try the Hakata specialty torikawayaki at your nearest branch. However, it is difficult to eat until you are full here, so you might want to consider another restaurant separately.
Now, here are the details of the restaurant. Restaurant data is here…
Kawaya Shiragane Head Shop Out of 5.
Address: 1-15-7 Shirogane, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, 810-0012
Phone number: 092-522-0739
Business hours: 17:00-0:00
Parking: No parking lot
Credit card payment：Not accepted (cash only)