Yakitori literally means “grilled chicken,” but nowhere in that name is it specified exactly what part of the chicken is being grilled up. Part of the joy of a yakitori meal is getting the chance to try many different parts of the chicken in small servings of skewered up, grilled delight. There’s chicken with green onion (negima), chicken breast (sasami), heart, and so much more, each with its own indicative flavor and texture. Gizzard, or “sunagimo” in Japanese, is no exception.
Sunagimo’s texture could be described as crispy crunchy, with a very meaty undertone. There’s definitely going to be a bit of spring to the bite. Flavors are not too strong and they are in fact quite receptive to some spicing up, should that strike your fancy. Typically, at time of ordering, you specify if you want the meat to be simply salted or if you would prefer a drizzling of yakitori sauce, which is a thin, slightly sweet and salty, dark sauce. Give both methods a try and see where your tongue takes you. For additional jazzing up, you can dash some shichimi (a seven spice, red pepper blend) onto your meat skewers.
Compared with some of the fattier parts of the chicken, the gizzard has some appealing health benefits, as it is low in fat and also high in protein. However, those with cholesterol concerns may wish to limit themselves to just a stick or two of the gizzard goodness, as cholesterol levels are on the high side.
Sunagimo is just one of many grilled meats on a stick you will most likely eat when dining at a yakitori restaurant. Trying a stick or two of many different varieties side-by-side is part of the adventure, and an authentic Japanese experience.
Looking to try sunagimo in Tokyo?
Japan Gourmetpedia recommends using our sister site, Tokyo Dinner Ticket, to find the perfect restaurant.