One of the most memorable and delicious aspects of travel is sampling the local foods. A trip to Japan gave me a chance to enjoy favorites like takoyaki (octopus fritters), okonomiyaki (cabbage frittatas), and other Asian eats in their native setting. A new (to me) treat was yakitori, a simple bar food snack of grilled chicken.

In the Tokyo neighborhood of Shinjuku, I saw (and smelled) enticing restaurants featuring sizzling street-side grills. Unlike big American grills that cook anything from burgers to ribs to steaks, these specially sized grills were designed to do one thing and one thing only: skewers. Short skewers loaded with chicken, asparagus, meatballs, and other simple ingredients spanned the narrow troughs of red-hot coals. The suspended foods cooked quickly and without burning or sticking to a grate or grill surface. And the offerings included nearly all the parts of the chicken, from succulent breast (torinku) to crunchy cartilage (nankotsu) and delicate, crispy chicken skin (torikawa). Yum!

Back home, I wanted a way to cook yakitori myself, so I came up with this easy-to-make grill design and some specially designed roll-proof, double-crook skewers. Use them to try delicious yakitori recipes.