ZenyaRen: Otemachi
Otemachi / Yakitori
Chiyoda-ku, Otemachi 1-7-2, Tokyo Sankei Bldg B2F.
Open 5-10pm (LO; Sat, Sun from 11am) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

It's Japan's first yakitori theme park! Seven famous yakitoriya from around the country have assembled in one spot, allowing Tokyo diners to compare their skewers side by side. The styles and flavors represented here are surpringly diverse, and the setting is lively and fun - a massive 229-seat space divided up into comfortable dining niches spread out over two levels.

Zenyaren's menu is also massive, the type that calls for multiple visits. Each participating shop offers their own array of individual skewers (some pork as well as chicken), side dishes and combination platters. There's also a fifteen-skewer mixed assortment (Y1980) with representative items from each of the shops.

We recently sampled a couple dozen skewers from several shops - some were fantastic, some were just okay, with only one disappointment. (Advance research or repeat visits would probably help raise the success rate.) Highlights included a very good negima, a couple of different variations on pork belly, and a bowl of very crispy charcoal-grilled chicken skin with negi. The Kyoto-style pickles were very good, as were the warm vegetables with a sesame-based dipping sauce.

Several decent regional sake are available to accompany your skewers, along with many other drinks options, and you can choose from a few budget-friendly open-bar plans if you're making a night of it. While there may be better yakitoriya in town, Zenyaren offers an appealing combination of a fun setting, reasonable prices and huge selection. Advance reservations are recommended, but they do save some space for walk-ins if you don't mind waiting a bit.

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