If you haven’t eaten fish collar, you need to. No, it’s not a new fad or something we haven’t seen before. Fish collars, the cut from along the fish clavicle, make their way onto local menus on occasion. It had been a while since I’d had a collar, but I’ve recently been reminded how delicate, sweet, and tender that part of the fish really is. At Myles and Jun Yakitori in Summerville, you’ll find a fried yellowtail collar on the menu (hamachi kama) that’s served piping hot with a side if sweet teriyaki sauce ($12). It’s a toothsome treat that shouldn’t be missed.
Myles and Jun Yakitori is an izakaya-style yakitori-ya, a Japanese bar serving yakitori, or skewered food, that’s become a favorite of Summerville, and a big part of that success is the stellar service. Myles Reyes makes her way around the dining room making sure that every table is being taken care of, whether its ensuring a guest enjoys the clear soup, recommending the chicken karaage (a Japanese cooking technique in which fish and meat are fried and marinated in soy sauce, garlic, or ginger) to another diner, or starting up small talk with someone about her herb garden out back.
That herb garden sits outside the back walls of the modern dining room, allowing easy access to the kitchen crew who use it to execute dishes from a large menu in which, as the name suggests, yakitori sits in the spotlight.
While yakitori technically refers to skewered chicken, Myles and Jun takes the broader definition applying it to everything from seafood and vegetables to meat and quail eggs, all skewered and put on a hot charcoal grill. The results are favorable.
The grill adds a big burst of smokiness to everything that hits it — and that’s a good thing. The traditional yakitori, the kawa (chicken skin, $3.50), was crispy and had a pleasing resemblance to pork rind, while the momo (chicken thigh, $4) was tender and quite tasty. The tsukune (chicken meatballs $4) could’ve used a bit more salt, and the orange chili sauce was on the sweet side.
The smoky beef heart ($4) was respectable, but the ever-so-tender gyutan (beef tongue, $4) and the well-seasoned and crispy kamo (duck breast, $7) were table favorites.
The “spicy” marinated ribeye ($6) was just about as good as it gets, though it could’ve used more heat, and the spiced lamb ($6), kurobuta (pork sausage, $4), and bacon-wrapped bay scallops ($4) didn’t last long.
Surprisingly, the best bite of the night consisted of bacon-wrapped quail eggs, which was reminiscent of bacon and eggs cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over a smoldering campfire ($4) — something I could eat daily.
The bar serves domestic beer, a handful of wine and sake bottles, and a decent sake sangria made with rotating blends of fruit, such as watermelon, strawberry, and mango.
While the yakitori sparked a bit of excitement, the noodle dishes are lackluster at best. The presentation of the yakibuta ramen ($14) was promisingly textbook: soft boiled egg, thinly sliced pork, light, hazy broth in shades of green, white, and red. But as I leaned towards the bowl, the aroma that I was hoping for — that fragrance that hits you in the face and draws you in for the first bite — just wasn’t there. The flavor fared no better, as the broth was as bland as can be and lacked the requisite silky gelatinous sheen.
Equally as disappointing was an overcooked plate of noodles in thick garlic sauce that made for a glistening mess. The chicken and shrimp weren’t even worth digging for ($17). They were so bad, mediocre dishes like the crispy pork belly ($7) and tuna tataki with crab salad ($9) shined like stars. I nearly forgot that the edamame was overcooked and under-seasoned ($5).
Multiple visits, a handful of empty skewers, and several abandoned dishes later, I’m left wondering why would you ever order anything but yakitori? Oh, and that yellowtail collar. Can’t forget that.