Tebasaki are Japanese-style chicken wings, a popular dish, especially in Nagoya. The term “tebasaki” refers explicitly to the wing section of the chicken. In Nagoya-style preparation, these wings are typically seasoned, deep-fried, and coated with a sweet and savory glaze that often includes soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar, and spices like garlic and ginger. They are sometimes finished with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and served as a perfect complement to beer or other beverages in izakayas (Japanese pubs) and restaurants.
These wings are known for their crispy texture and flavorful glaze, which balances the umami-rich soy sauce with the sweetness of mirin and sugar, with a hint of spice. Tebasaki has become a beloved snack and is often enjoyed at parties, gatherings, or as a bar food, with many establishments offering their unique twist on the dish.
In the bustling kitchens of Nagoya’s eateries, there once lay mounds of chicken wings, unvalued and untouched, deemed unfit for the culinary scene. It was almost inconceivable that these wings could be relished as a Japanese delicacy. But in a twist that would shape the destiny of these humble pieces, the sun goddess Amaterasu inspired a revolution that would place tebasaki on the pedestal of Nagoya’s food culture.
It all began at Furaibo, a restaurant that dared to dream up a new fate for these neglected wings in 1965. Here, the first tebasaki emerged, seasoned and fried, a perfect blend of sweet and spice, destined to become a menu sensation.
The Rise of Yamachan
Enter Yamachan, the name now synonymous with the tebasaki phenomenon. While Furaibo may have introduced tebasaki, Yamachan was instrumental in elevating it to legendary status. On June 14, 1981, in a modest 13m² space in Shinsakae, Yamachan unveiled a 13-seat stall to begin the journey of these wings to fame.
The wings at Yamachan packed a punch, seasoned with a vigorous dose of pepper that set them apart from the crowd. The “Fab Wings” they offered were not merely food; they were a culinary experience, with a special sauce and mouth-tingling spices that became the hallmark of Yamachan’s.
Eat Tebasaki Like a Pro
- Find the Joint: Start by locating the joint where the two parts of the wing are connected. It’s easier to handle if you can see the line where they meet.
- Use Your Teeth: Hold the larger end of the wing and place it between your front teeth. This gives you better grip and control.
- One Swift Motion: With a firm grip, pull the meat off the bone in one quick motion. This should leave the bone mostly clean if done correctly.
- Clean the Bone: After the large piece is removed, make sure to pick the bone clean. No delicious meat should be left uneaten!
- Avoid Small Bones: Beware of the small bones, as they can be a choking hazard. Remember to savor the skin and remaining meat safely.
- No Waste: Enjoy your wing thoroughly, leaving nothing but a clean bone behind. This efficient method ensures you get all the taste without mess or waste.
Enjoy your wings responsibly and savor every bite!
The Tebasaki Trail in Nagoya
Today, any izakaya worth its salt in Nagoya has its rendition of tebasaki, but certain spots stand out, becoming must-visit landmarks on any food connoisseur’s map.
Sekai No Yamachan
This chain is where you begin your tebasaki quest. Though Yamachan didn’t invent these wings, he made them an icon. Here, you can indulge in Maboroshi Tebasaki, deep-fried without batter and doused with spices and plenty of pepper. And for a twist, try the Kurotebasaki, darkened with Worcestershire sauce for a sweet tang.
Sekai no Yamachan
The original torchbearer of tebasaki, Furaibo’s wings are a family-friendly blend of sweet and spicy. Furaibo is also famous for popularizing Nagoya-style Tebasaki, or seasoned chicken wings. Established in Nagoya, it has become synonymous with these delicious, crispy, and flavorful wings coated in their signature sweet and spicy sauce.
Looking for a place to enjoy delicious chicken wings in Nagoya’s downtown Sakae area? Look no further than Gomitori, known for their high-temperature fried tebasaki chicken wings coated in a secret sweet and spicy sauce that’s addictively tasty. This pub also features a variety of local Nagoya specialties and is highly recommended for those looking to sample several dishes at once. The warm and inviting interior, decorated with antiques, is always bustling with customers until 5 AM.
The Tebasaki Summit is an event that celebrates and competes for the title of the world’s best tebasaki, a Japanese fried chicken wing dish. It originates from Nagoya’s Atsuta Ward, known as the birthplace of tebasaki. The event aims to bring together the best tebasaki from all over Japan, encouraging excellence in taste and creativity. Winners are determined by votes from customers who purchase and taste tebasaki at the event.