Authentic Yakitori And Shochu At Berkeley's Ippuku

Authentic yakitori and shochu in Berkeley

Bless Ippuku for being unfettered by culinary trends.

Instead, the brand-new Berkeley restaurant traffics in serious yakitori and shochu.

For the former, Ippuku offers traditional variations. Skewers of (mostly) chicken parts are grilled over bincho-tan (Japanese white charcoal), which is made from ubame oak and cherished for its ability to maintain high heat.

Thighs, breasts, hearts, gizzards, skin and cartilage: The entirety of birds from respected purveyors like Soul Food Farms and Gleason Ranch is used. Each is served with salt or sauce (comprising shoyu and mirin) at the chef's discretion.

For the proudly omnivorous, Ippuku serves rare chicken, a Japanese delicacy. Balk not: Cultural biases have prevented Americans from eating rare poultry, but the risk of salmonella is minimized with proper handling of high-quality birds.

Liquid is an essential part of yakitori dining, and Ippuku sports a list of shochu distilled from sweet potato (imo), barley (mugi), short-grain rice (kome), long-grain rice (awamori) and black sugar (kokuto).

Shochu is served neat or on the rocks, and its taste ranges from herbaceous to redolent of Scotch, depending on whether the bottling has been wood-aged.

To continue the unique experience, try the Sasayaki, an unaged barley shochu available nowhere else in California ($9 a glass).

Ippuku, 2130 Center St., Berkeley; 510-665-1969 or