Published 5 June 2021
Angelo Sato launches his “comb to tail” izakaya in Soho after four years. With a special focus on yakitori, Humble Chicken brings a piece of Japan to the heart of London. We chat with him about his experience in Tokyo restaurants and becoming a chef.
Japanese Inspired dishes with European influences.
1 of everything.
Yakitori has been around for hundreds of years and is extremely popular in Japan so we’re not doing anything ground-breaking here.
Just as you would with beef or pig, we break down the chickens into its individual cuts and muscles and skewer them accordingly. They’re all seasoned or served with a different sauces or condiment. We also make a lot of ferments, 6 types of Koshes, Kojis, fermented fruit vinegars that are at the heart of all the sauces and condiments that give them a very unique depth of flavour.
It has been challenging for sure, everyone has had to deal with so much uncertainly. We’re independent so cash flow was always going to be tight. There were some moments when I thought it wasn’t going happen, but just kept our head down and worked our asses off and it worked out in the end.
I love Soho, it’s always crowded, the noise, energy, all the small alley ways, it feels a lot like Tokyo so it was the perfect location to open HC.
Working in fine dining restaurants in Japan are brutal, you work 6 days a week no holiday and you’re usually in the pot wash or cleaning for the first 2-3 years before you can even touch the food.
It thought me to keep my head down and work hard and to be resourceful, it’s not school, you’re not paying to be there, you’re getting paid, so you got to meet them halfway. I would go work in the fish markets before work for free and other places to gain extra experience.
I think the key differences is Japanese are happy to focus on one thing for 20-30 years and they’re very protective of it. Whether its soba, ramen, sushi, or yakitori they focus their entire life on that one craft and that’s why you can get amazing food in Japan anywhere 24/7.
I don’t know if it’s the best advice, but I watched an interview with Gordon Ramsay on YouTube. In the interview he suggested young chefs step completely outside of their comfort zone by moving to a different country, with no money, friends or job. It’s only when things are really tough you learn how much you really want something. I bought a ticket to London the next day and that’s how this all started.
I definitely don’t feel I am in a position to be giving advice to anyone. Having said that, the cooking is only one piece of the puzzle make sure you, your partner or investors have very good understanding of.
Anywhere in Japan really. In London I love Trinity, I’m heading there now actually.