Hiroshima: Yakitori at Hana Kushi & Sante

This is the sixth post on my recent food eating adventures to Japan. All other posts can be found here

In comparison to Kyoto, where the vibe feels very old-school, formal, polite, conservative, etc, Hiroshima is like a vastly different city, especially in terms of eating out and the restaurants that we came across. We found a lot more Izakayas’ than I ever saw in Kyoto. In fact, there was a whole row of them located en-route to our hotel. Izakaya are a type of informal drinking establishments which serve mainly drinks but also small bites to go along with the drinks. I actually don’t think these are small bites (IE: tapas). You can have a proper meal here, just don’t ask for rice or noodles or an 8 course set meal. 

After our epic adventure in Miyajima, we only reached our hotel at around 10pm. We were wet, exhausted and utterly starving. We just took the minimum to check in, dump our bags and go back out again into the rain for some food. Hana Kushi is located a few doors down from our hotel, so I suggested that we check if it was still serving since I didn’t want to waste too much time running around the city when it was already so late. Luckily for us, it was still open and willing to serve us.

Hana Kushi is pre-dominantly a yakitori bar. They actually have a yakitori set menu which includes an “all you can drink” for two hours for only 4000 yen. We didn’t take that up, but instead elected to go a la carte instead.

We started off with drinks – highballs Hiroshima style. Highballs are the Japanese version of whisky and tonic. They are so popular that apparently there are bars specially dedicated to just serving highballs. The Hiroshima ‘style’ comes with a twist of lemon, since lemons and oranges are native to this region.

We also got served a plate of cabbage (for palate cleansing) and cold chicken salad.

What followed was a variety of yakitori sticks, mostly from various parts of the chicken (Eg. Teriyaki chicken, chicken thigh, Chicken breast), though we also got karubi beef as well. As I don’t speak Japanese, I let E do most of the ordering which turned out to be good because I got to try many things which I never ever thought I would have the guts to order myself…like

Chicken hearts – This was like really really good…………..
Chicken liver
Chicken skin

I also found out that the Japanese have a preference for grilling their chicken a little under… meaning to expect the chicken to be only 90% cooked totally. At first, I was pretty unsure since images of salmonella poisoning immediately crept into my mind, but E convinced me that it would be fine and that she had chicken sashimi before and still survived… Well… I tried it and it was delicious. It’s actually not as bad as it seems… the chicken looked all white, with just the slightest hint of pink juices and the meat was incredibly tender. I guess that if I was going to try anything dangerous, Japan would be the place to do it.
Japan 20151

It was an incredible experience and I definitely would recommend Hana Kushi to anyone visiting Hiroshima and looking for a casual yakitori place. The prices were very reasonable. Between the both of us, we paid 2700 yen per person in total.

However, strangely enough, it was late, but our tummies were still not satisfied. Rather than order more food at Hana Kushi, we decided to bar hop to Sante, which is located just a few block further down from our hotel. Sante is more like a western bar, focusing on wines and European liqueurs but they still serve yakitori and open till midnight – fantastic.
Japan 20153

Since lemon is a native fruit to this region, Sante actually offers their own homemade limoncello. We got a glass of that and a white sangria. So, even though we only ordered one glass of limoncello, the server actually delivered two glasses to us. When we informed the waitress about this, she immediately told us that it would be ‘service’ since they had made the mistake and asked us to enjoy the extra cup – YAY YAY!

We got some grilled vegetables just to convince ourselves we were being healthy

And another bunch of adventurous yakitori sticks – Pork tongue and pork with leek (I think?). It was my first time trying pork tongue (I’ve only ever heard of beef tongue) but wow, I found it to be really tender and flavourful – or is it just the Japanese and their skillful knowledge of cooking different meats?

That night, we found two really cool Yakitori bars in Hiroshima, all located within walking distance from one another. One is a pretty traditional one (Hana Kushi), while the other has a more European vibe (Sante). Both were pretty good and served good food. Service was fantastic too.

Name: Hana Kushi,
Add: Hiroshima city, Naka-ku Optima Hi 2-6-25-1F

Name: Sante
Add: 2-4-3 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima

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