Yardbird was started in 2011 by two Canadians, Matt Abergel and Lindsay Jang. Matt had previously worked for three years as a chef at Masa in NYC, and then as executive chef of Zuma in Hong Kong. This past experience manifests itself in both the ambience and cuisine of Yardbird. The restaurant has a very NYC vibe, made even more pronounced by the clientele whom are predominately expats. It is very much in what a New Yorker would call the “momofuku style” – that is, a modern and hip neighborhood eatery with a casual atmosphere but where extreme care and attention is paid to the food, industrial décor, closely packed tables, no reservations, loud party music, friendly but quirky servers, artisanal cocktails, good value, etc. The bi-level restaurant has a bar area with some seating on the ground floor, and then a downstairs area with the charcoal grills and more extensive seating.
Yardbird specializes in yakitori (literally, “grilled chicken”) one of the numerous glorious subgenres of Japanese cuisine. Chicken, along with other meats and vegetables, are threaded on a bamboo skewer and grilled over binchō-tan charcoal, which burns at a lower temperature and for a longer period of time than ordinary charcoal. Once served primarily by street vendors and at izakayas, yakitori increasingly began to be prepared in more sophisticated, complex ways. Yardbird receives 50 chickens brought in fresh daily from a farm in the New Territories and prepares every part of them from beak to tail in keeping with the Japanese philosophy of mottainai (“waste not”). The best pieces were the breast with green miso; a rich tsukune (meatball) with a tare sauce and egg yolk; a thigh with welsh onion and tare; and the oyster, a piece of dark meat near the thigh, that comes with sea salt and lemon. The crackly skin and tender, juicy meat of these pieces reminds you how good a simple grilled chicken can be.
The restaurant also serves some delicious vegetables, like grilled asparagus that come with an onsen egg and nori, maitake mushroom tempura or grilled and sweet corn tempura, which is perfectly battered, juicy and flavorful. Their most famous dish of all is “KFC”, or Korean fried cauliflower, which is covered in a spicy yuzu and chili sauce analogous to the glaze used in Korean fried chicken.
There’s a lot of hype around Yardbird, and the queues during peak hours can be simply insane. S. Pellegrino’s list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Asia laughably included Yardbird at No. 46. I can think of hundreds of restaurants in Asia that are better. To be clear: I like Yardbird quite a lot. It’s an awesome restaurant, a great place to go with friends, and I would come here pretty regularly if I lived in Hong Kong. But much of the hype is rooted in its uniqueness: there’s simply nowhere else like this in Hong Kong. If this restaurant opened in New York City, it would be just another yakitori-ya, somewhere around Yakitori Totto and below Tori Shin, and similar to dozens of downtown restaurants in vibe. Try to temper your expectations before going so that you can truly enjoy Yardbird for what it is: a great, casual neighborhood restaurant with very tasty food.
33-35 Bridges Street
+852 2547-9273 Mon-Sat, 6pm-midnight
- Matt Abergel, Chef
- Hong Kong
- Best Bars
- Best Service
- Best Value
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- Maitake Mushroom - grilled or tempura
- Asparagus - onsen egg, nori
- Sweet Corn Tempura - - salt, pepper
- Brussel Sprouts - black garlic, crispy garlic
- KFC - Korean Fried Cauliflower - Yuzu, Chili
- Oyster - sea salt, lemon
- Meatball - tare, egg yolk
- Neck - yuzu kosho, pepper
- Breast - green miso
- Tail - sea salt, pepper
- Thigh - welsh onion, tare
- Wings - sea salt, shichimi
- Skin - sake, sea salt