There’s no bad seat in the house at Hina Yakitori, where 12 diners at a time are now feasting on a 16-course chicken skewer–focused tasting menu. The new incarnation of the restaurant from chef Tommy Cleary is a pared-down version of his now-closed Oakland setup. This time, working in partnership with Tan Truong and Chef Geoffrey Lee of nearby Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Ju-Ni, Cleary is devoting the same level of attention and care to his yakitori “omakase” (chef’s choice menu) as Lee does with his sushi tasting at Ju-Ni. But rather than fish, the focus at Hina is chicken skewers, and over the course of a meal, customers eat half a pasture-raised chicken broken down into parts and grilled over binchotan coals, with some courses of other items interspersed for variety.
From their chef’s counter perch, Hina customers watch Cleary and a colleague roast skewers over Wakayama Kishu binchotan, a specific white oak charcoal the kitchen ships in from Japan. Glass allows diners to see all the action without getting caught in the smoke, and lots of venting was required. All in all, the construction at the space (formerly Stelladoro Pizza) took more than a year, delayed by a city-mandated seismic retrofit of the building. After the wait, here’s the result.