Yakitori literally means grilled chicken, but the term is liberally applied, at least here, not only to parts of the chicken, but to bits of vegetable, meat and seafood, too.
You could make a quick meal, or a big snack, out of yummy skewered treats alone. Pre-grill seasoning gives everything a nice zesty bite. You can order them, as you'd do with maki, either a la carte (for as little as $1 for a chicken skewer), or as one of the four sets that Yakitori One has devised for simplified ordering. One such set features all meat; another mixes meat and seafood; yet another has seafood and vegetables. The Yakitori Set, 30 skewers for $29.95, is for going a little crazy.
We really liked the versions with short rib, squid legs and especially asparagus wrapped in bacon. And there are small revelations like the version with shiitake, when something normally bland is suddenly packed with interesting flavor. Yakitori One's skewers are not overly ambitious, and some of the delicacies seen among the offerings of a more authentic yakitori house - neck, guts and cartilage - aren't here.
You will probably end up ordering from the other parts of the menu, too. There's not much you can do to go wrong. The meals-in-a-bowl here are just fine, certainly comparable to more expensive versions at fancier places. Oden is a mildly seasoned broth filled with a variety of colorful, puffy fish cakes. You can almost feel your well-being improve as you eat it. We tried a tempura udon, too, a stronger broth with crispy battered shrimp and vegetables and long, slurpy buckwheat noodles.
Donburi are big bowls of seasoned rice topped with one or two simply prepared items: a chicken curry, a deep-fried cutlet or, our satisfying choice, savory barbecued Korean short ribs. A box dinner built around the Korean classic bulgogi impressed us, too, with not only the good tender meat but the treats in the box's other compartments: crisp lettuce salad, edamame, dumplings, pretty translucent slices of daikon radish and, on the side, a cup of good miso soup. This was another bargain, too.
We ordered way more than we needed, gathering up appetizers of shrimp and pork dumplings, a rice ball, one of those indispensable Korean seafood pancakes (the version here is excellent, not so greasy) and even bowls of green tea and red bean ice cream. You could easily satisfy yourself at Yakitori One for about $20, including an imported beer. Yakitori One might have a BYOB vibe, but in fact it has a full liquor license. There's a selection of sake, too.
Our server fit the ambience, making up for a lack of polish with laid-back friendliness. The food came out reasonably quickly, but I wonder what a big crowd would do to the pace and to the place's essentially good nature. On my visit, I was charmed by every bit of it.
famous yakitori one restaurantWhere: 2101 Maryland Ave.
Service: ** 1/2
Ambience: ** 1/2
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, AMEX
Open: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.Tuesday-Sunday