Skewered meats and vegetables, agadashi tofu (second from left), and other items at Yakitori Boogytori Credit: Nagle Photography for Yakitori Boogytori

Speaking of all the great Japanese food in Arlington Heights, a new strip-mall spot opened last January, joining notable north suburban izakaya like Kurumaya and Sankyu in cementing the northwest suburbs’ rep as the place to be for Japanese drinking food (much as they are for Korean drinking food). In truth Yakitori Boogytori, from the folks behind Ramen Takeya and Wasabi, isn’t officially an izakaya—it’s a yakitori-ya, grilling skewered meats and a few vegetables over white-hot binchotan charcoal. Still, there’s a nice selection of interesting and unusual small plates of the sort you’d expect to find in a legitimate izakaya.   

Credit: Nagle Photography for Yakitori Boogytori

“Boogytori,” incidentally, is a portmanteau meant to evoke a dancing chicken (“tori”), which is somewhat hard to visualize when you’re hoovering hot bird bits off sticks. Indeed the skewers are dominated by odd parts from naturally fed, cage-free Jidori chicken (likely happier than your typical battery bird during its brief life), including crispy skin, livers, hearts, ventricles, cartilage, and the good old pope’s nose, all sizzling and glistening with juice. Additionally there are chunks of fatty wagyu short rib, Berkshire pork belly, squid tentacles, smelt, shishitos, and ginko nuts for a more varied experience, all ranging in price from $2 to $4.50 per stick.

Credit: Nagle Photography for Yakitori Boogytori

Small plates include familiar favorites like agadashi tofu ($5), crispy and spongy fried bean curd absorbing a light, savory dashi broth, as well as chicken karaage ($7), which itself seems to soak up a bit more grease than it needs to.

Credit: Nagle Photography for Yakitori Boogytori

There are also more uncommon dishes such as ochazuke ($4), a bowl of steamed white rice bathed in hot green tea and kombu broth with nori, freshly grated wasabi, and tiny crunchy rice balls known as bubu arare; there’s shirasu oroshi ($4), or boiled whitebait; and hotaruika okizuke ($5), which anyone familiar with the ika shiokara at Izakaya Mita will recognize as cold fermented squid.

Credit: Courtesy Yakitori Boogytori

With regard to the latter two dishes, which are of a challenging nature, you’ll certainly want to avail yourself of the significant selection of beer, sake, shochu, and Japanese whiskey to wash them down. 乾杯

Yakitori Boogytori in Arlington HeightsCredit: Courtesy Yakitori Boogytori

Yakitori Boogytory, 932 W. Algonquin Rd, Arlington Heights, 847-262-5914