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SF

Review

Hina Yakitori

$$$$
Japanese  in  Nopa
Written by

Binging a new TV show is fun, but risky. If the show isn’t good it gets boring. Before long, you fall asleep during an episode and wake up to end credits and a Netflix pop-up that asks, “Do you still even give a f*ck about this show?” But when it’s great, you stay engaged from the pilot through the finale. That’s what eating the 15-18 course menu at Hina Yakitori is like - binge-watching a series, but a great one, where each dish is so interesting and creative you won’t be able to focus on anything else until it’s done.

You should prepare to eat a lot of chicken when you come to Hina. The omakase-style restaurant on Divis. serves mostly chicken skewers meticulously grilled over a charcoal fire behind a 13-seat counter. While staring at the coals is a good substitute for your apartment fireplace the landlord sealed shut, what keeps the meal so engaging are the different ways each course is served. Chicken wings come brushed with tare and topped with sinus-clearing wasabi. The tender thigh oyster is served alongside a deafeningly crunchy chicharron, and oily, salty salmon roe is balanced on top of a smoky chicken tail skewer. Each dish is a completely new experience, and after a few rounds you’ll wonder why you used to think everything tasted like chicken.

It’s not all chicken all the time, though. Courses of skewers are broken up with small plates like spicy wagyu tartare topped with Rice Krispies, or charred broccoli with garlic soy butter. There’s also a cameo by a skewer of rich, oily eel. Like John Goodman on The West Wing or Brad Pitt on Friends, these guest appearances are great, and make the fantastic regular cast even better.

Dinner at Hina costs $110 per person (or roughly 3-7% of monthly rent in SF), and for that price, all the details are taken care of. Servers will recommend the perfect bottle of sake and clear plates without missing a beat all while offering incredible service that gives you the chance to eat chicken in ways you never thought imaginable. It’s a great special occasion restaurant, and an experience you won’t stop talking about for a while - that is, until the new season of your favorite show gets added to Netflix.

Food Rundown

The menu at Hina is 15-18 courses and changes from time to time. These are some of our favorite dishes.

Yukke

The first dish you may get at Hina is a slightly spicy wagyu tartare topped with Rice Krispies - it’s the best treatment we’ve ever seen given to breakfast cereal. This dish is great, but the chicken that follows is better.

Menchi Katsu

This fried chicken croquette comes with a side of dijon mayonnaise and is basically the best Chicken McNugget you’ll ever have.

Kawa

Our favorite thing here is this fatty, crunchy, smoky chicken tail skewer that’s topped with salmon roe and shiso.

Sot L’y Laisse

The chicharron overpowers the caviar it’s topped with, but adds a great contrast to this tender piece of dark meat.

Negima

All the chicken breast you’ve ever eaten have been dry because these two small pieces of negima stole all the juiciness.

Torigara

This tiny cup of intensely flavorful chicken broth with sesame seeds is the only thing we want to drink out of a mug from now on.

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