Last week I did a post on Freshstreet. Upon review, I think it did Kenny and Misako a disservice as it lumped their yakitori service at Double Happiness in with their takoyaki and Japanese crepe operation. After encountering the full Freshstreet Yakitori experience, I realize it is something that shouldn’t be condensed in a sentence or two; it deserves its own post.
As the name suggests, Double Happiness is an Asian-themed bar/club. Located in the Brewery District at 482 South Front Street, the establishment’s interior decor creates the perfect atmosphere for Freshstreet‘s yakitori service. Upon walking into the establishment, you’re greeted by red paper lanterns suspended from the ceiling and the welcoming aroma of wood charcoal and grilled meats emanating from within. Follow your nose and you’ll negotiate the length of the bar, which is decorated with Asian wall hangings interspersed with two large flat screen televisions (which, on the night of my visit, were playing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Wild at Heart—not a bad selection) and the usual suspects of top shelf and well bottles. You also may notice jars of soju (a Korean spirit made from barley and rice), infused with fruit (including mango, berry, watermelon, and lychee), on the shelves. As the bar ends, a grill area opens up and leads to double doors revealing a kitchen prep area in the back. In contrast to the confined workspace of the Mikey’s Late Night Slice shack (where they do takoyaki and Japanese crepe service during lunch), this extra space allows Kenny and Misako to work their magic, unencumbered. The daily menu items are listed on individual pieces of paper lining the wall above the grill; they are hand-written in both English and Japanese.
The description from my last post of Freshstreet Yakitori’s menu as “…a variety of grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables…” fell painfully short of giving an accurate representation of their offerings. What you will find is an assortment of meats, ranging from the commonplace (chicken wing, chicken thigh, beef short rib), to the more exotic (black pork tongue, beef heart, beef tongue), and everything in between (pork cheek, pork belly, panko-fried giant oyster, spicy tuna, chicken gizzard). All are grilled to perfection with a beautiful char on the outside, perfumed by oak charcoal and sealing the delicious meat within. Additionally, there are grilled vegetable options—zucchini and okra were on the menu when I visited, though the menu changes based on the owners’ whim as well as the availability of ingredients.
Kenny and Misako feature fresh seafood when it’s available. A few weeks ago they had a grilled scallop served on the shell. The night I visited, they had a giant clam sashimi. It was also served on the shell with a little minced daikon and a side of Meyer lemon soy gelee. The Meyer lemon provided just enough acid to cut the fishiness of the clam. It was amazingly simple and delicious. I also tried the clam ramen which had a sublime broth. It was served in a mug—the perfect vessel for finishing off the delicious broth once the noodles were gone. If you follow them on Twitter, Facebook, or their Tumblr page and happen to notice they’re featuring a seafood special, it would behoove you to take advantage of these special treats.
The open flame is one of the most primordial methods of cooking; grilled meat is an archetypical food found in cultures throughout the world: yakitori, satay, shish kabob, churrasco, barbecue. Done incorrectly and you’re left with dry, tough food that’s more of a chore than a pleasure to eat. But prepared by the hand of a skilled chef, the technique can yield sublime morsels of deliciousness. Using an approach based on Japanese yakitori, Kenny and Misako are turning out succulent grilled meat that will keep you coming back for more. And after all, who doesn’t like grilled meat on a stick?