Get There Early, Eat To Your Heart’s Content & Tip Well
Nestled among the temples, antique shops, bars and cafés that wind through Hong Kong’s trendy Soho district, yakitori hotspot Yardbird has made once-sleepy Bridges Street a go-to destination for serious foodies with an itch only that only world-class skewers can scratch. Since opening Yardbird last year, owners Lindsay Jang and Matt Abergel (formerly of Zuma and Masa) have become a culinary force to be reckoned with, with the city’s notoriously spoiled-for-choice diners lining up daily for some of the best yakitori in Hong Kong as well as signature dishes like corn tempura, KFC (Korean Fried Cauliflower) and now-legendary meatballs.
Recently, Jing Daily caught up with Lindsay and Matt to discuss their restaurant, their insistence on sourcing the best ingredients, and their game-changing business mentality.
Jing Daily (JD): How would you describe Yardbird, in a few words?
Lindsay & Matt (YB): Yardbird is a modern yakitori restaurant in the heart of Hong Kong; a restaurant focused on providing simple, quality food and good service.
JD: How has Yardbird’s unique business plan (no reservations, no service charge, and limited stock) helped with the restaurant’s success?
YB: Yardbird is meant to be different from most restaurants in Hong Kong; we are trying to “change the game” with regards to no service charge, no reservations, etc. Our business model is meant to provide our guests with a new and memorable experience – this happens by educating our staff and our guests on the Yardbird concept and the food and drink we serve and by offering a product and service that’s worth waiting for and tipping for.
JD: Hong Kong is home to a fantastic food culture. How does Yardbird keep up with the competition and new food trends while staying original?
YB: We don’t follow trends – we stay focused to maintain our integrity. Our goal is to keep the quality of our product high and consistent. We are always trying to improve through continuous food and beverage training.
JD: “Going organic” has become a popular epicurean movement in Hong Kong. What are your thoughts on this movement and quality of ingredients? Does Yardbird plan to go organic if it hasn’t already?
YB: While we support the “organic movement” in Hong Kong, our focus is more on the freshness, quality and taste of the ingredients. We try to use local products (our chicken, for example) and many of the ingredients we use come from Japan because of the quality and specificity.
JD: Yardbird is extremely social. How has Yardbird utilized social media to keep in touch with local Hong Kong and form food partnerships e.g., the Hecho pop-up?
YB: Yardbird uses social media (specifically Facebook and Twitter) to communicate with anyone and everyone who’s in interested us – the Yardbird concept and the Yardbird “family” of friends that we’ve created all over the world. As we do not pay for any PR or marketing whatsoever, social media has become an invaluable tool for us to keep in touch with our guests – local and global – and provide them with a “sneak peek” into new dishes, events and collaborations, etc.
Special thanks to Tara Babins.