Sarku Japan: Chicken Teriyaki?

Joined Jan 4, 2006
Recently I have fallen in love a local mall's food court-joint Sarku (also known as Sakkio) Japan's Teriyaki Chicken. It's a nice, quick little deal where they grill up the chicken in front of you and then pour on the teriyaki sauce and serve it over rice and veggies. Quick and seems fresh enough. It's not a bad price for me, just a bad drive and I am clueless as to how they make it. I've tried a couple of times, and I can't even come close. Hopefully someone knows this cause I'm dying to know; seems so versatile if paired with the right sides and setting. I'm stumped on:

#1. The Teriyaki sauce itself. I can come reasonably close, but mine is too powerful or something. It has just the right amount of flavor to it and I can't get it. They don't marinate the chicken in it (as far as I can tell), they just pour it on but it gives a deep but not overpowering flavor to the chicken even when extra is put on.

#2. The chicken texture. They use these little (breast I'm assuming) bites, but the thing that I am absolutely clueless on is what it sits in. When they scoop it out in front of you, it looks like they have some sort of coating on it--not a marinade or a sauce, but a coating.

Getting me hungry just thinking...

Anyone who has some help for me, thanks in advance.
Joined Jan 5, 2001
Have you asked them? It's a ligitimate question. After all, you could have a food allergy... ;)
Joined Feb 6, 2006
My dad ran a teriyaki restaurant for about 5 years or so. I was still young back then but I do remember ginger and sugar were sauce as well. I remember my dad heating it up in a big pot....
Joined Sep 10, 2005
Love Sarku! We have one at a local mall here. But I cannot tell you anything about the preparation of the food. Sorry.....
Joined Jan 2, 2007

I am a chef who worked for a Sarku Japan for 4 years while in High School. I learned every recipe they ever had, and remember them off by heart. For legal reasons, I cannot give you EXACT recipes, but I can lead you on the path to the ever-elusive Sarku (or Sakkio, as it was called when I worked there) Chicken Teriyaki.

First, the chicken. It's thigh meat, people. A breast will never come close to the texture (or moisture level) you are seeking. Specifically, boneless/skinless YOUNG chicken thigh meat. Since I have found it difficult to purchase this for home cooking, you will have to buy a big package of chicken thighs and remove the bones and skin. (leave SOME of the fat, it is necessary and you will understand why later) Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces (preferably while it is still partially frozen).

Second, the chicken IS marinated. But not in teriyaki sauce. The sauce in and of itself could take up an entire chapter of a novel, but we'll touch on that later. Put your chicken in a large tupperware container. Add water, cooking sherry, granulated garlic, vegetable oil, white pepper, and soy sauce. Again, can't give out exacts, but try a ratio of 4 water to 1 soy sauce to 1 oil. A decent amount of pepper, and just a tiny bit of garlic (granulated garlic is strong, and the finished product should have an UNDERTONE of garlic, but not a FLAVOR of garlic). Add more liquid than you think you need - the chicken will "drink" a lot of this fluid. Put on a pair of gloves and massage the **** out of this, combining all the ingredients, and coating all the chicken. If the chicken is still too frozen, let it set for a while to thaw, and then massage it.

FUN LITTLE BIT OF KNOWLEDGE: We at Sakkio used to refer to this process as "pushing" the chicken - until a goofy man from the Sarku/Sakkio Head Office refered to it as "massaging" the chicken. So I use the term "massage" with a smirk and a tongue-in-cheek inside joke.

"Massage" your chicken every few hours, and allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight. Yes, overnight. You didn't think something so wonderful was going to be made up in 5 mintues, did you?! Plus, the path to making good teriyaki sauce is long and tedious - so you will need that day to contemplate the chemistry of SAUCE.

TRUE Sakkio sauce was composed of only five components. That's right. Just five. The problem there lies within the fact that ONE of the ingredients is extremely complicated to make and nearly impossible to duplicate: the soup base. You read correctly, folks - the ultimate secret ingredient in Sakkio sauce is a complex soup stock simmered in a GIANT sauce pot overnight. The soup itself was a myriad of ingredients, many of them scraps, from the Sakkio kitchen. Beef trimmings and bones, carrots, onions, cabbage pieces, pulverized ginger fingers, smashed whole garlic bulbs, and more stacked into the pot - which was then topped off with water. The result, after a nights worth of simmering and straining - was a somewhat fatty golden-colored BROTH OF LIFE, packed with nutrients and a distinctive flavor, which, like so many other Sakkio items, carried untertones of many things but the flavor of nothing. The stock itself made a glorious breakfast when simply poured over rice, and gave the lucky diner a days worth of energy.

While you are obviously welcome to experiment with a "from scratch" Sakkio soup base, you will save time, money, and broken spirits by cheating your way out of it. The Sakkio stock was a one of a kind creation, and unless you have access to an Asian kitchen, a ginormous sauce pot, and about sixty-five years of Chinese culinary know-how - your stock will always come out stinking up your home, and tasting like oily over-cooked cabbage/onion water. Trust me.

I recommend getting yourself a good chicken stock, one that is NOT salty (these flavors must be DEEP, but not OVERPOWERING), and simmering it with some roughly chopped ginger and garlic, thus giving you a tasty Asian-flavoured soup. If you can find an Asian stock to work with that already incorporates these flavors - even better!

Once you have an acceptable soup (remember - NOT salty - we will be adding plenty of salt element in a moment. Your soup should be flavorful, but rediculously bland at the same time), it's time to go to town. Both Kikkomann Soy AND Terkiyaki sauce are used here, in a ratio of about 3 parts teriyaki to one part soy. The soup should be about 60% of your total product, with the soy/teriyaki mix making up the rest.

Next it's time for the sweetening of the beast. This comes, not from honey (as I have heard suggested), but from brown sugar. Since there are not any numbers here, the amount is difficult to guage - I recommend warming your sauce over a burner and slowly adding brown sugar until you are satisfied with the level of sweetness.

Now you have yourself a sweet and savory brown sauce that is just DYING to be drizzled over grilled chicken.... but wait.... this sauce is very watery - not the lovely "sticks to every bite" consistency that you crave? Fear not! A quick slurry (mixture of cornstarch and cold water) will do the trick nicely.

Bring your sauce up to a boil and SLOWLY - REALLY SLOWLY - add some of your slurry. The consistency is very important here, and there is no turning back. Stir in your slurry with a wire whisk, as to not create any lumps. Give it thirty seconds or so to accept the starches and thicken up. Your sauce should ONLY be thick enough to leave a glaze on the spoon, or stick to the side of the pot if you splash a little up there - no thicker. If it's still like water, add a little slurry. If it follows the aforementioned properties, you're sauce is done. Congratulations. You have just developed a beautiful, beautiful thing.

This sauce can be refridgerated overnight while your chicken marinates, or made up the same day that you are cooking - it matters not because you will have to warm it up for serving either way (careful to warm it slowly and stir frequently - once thickened, the sauce will want to burn very easily).

Now back to the lovely chicken. You have now "massaged" and marinated your chicken overnight, and it's time to mix it. Mix it. As in with a mixer. Or, if you are REALLY lucky, a Kitchenaid Mixer with a dough hook. Or ANY mixer with a dough hook. This is a huge step that cannot be deleted, so don't even think about it. The chicken/marinade mix needs to run at least a 30 minute course through the mixer on a slow setting. You will know it is done because all of the fat will be separated to look almost like fatty off-white snow, and the whole mix will look like pukey slop. This is good. Trust me.

Once your chicken is a slop that you wouldn't even want to feed to the pigs, it's high time you fired up a flat-top grill (one of those electric ones will do nicely). You are shooting for 500 degrees, which, is probably the highest setting on most of those grills. Be SURE that the grill is SUPER hot before adding your chicken - if you have access to a infared thermometer, this would be an excellent time to whip that gadget out and impress all of your neighbors.

Add a bit of vegetable oil to your grill and spread it out with a steel spatula. Add a scoop of your chicken slop (enough to decently cover the grill, but not so much as to dramatically kill the heat) - and spread it into a nice thin layer with your spatula. Use a chopping motion to do this, DO NOT flatten the chicken with the broad end of the tool. PLEASE. You've come this far, don't ruin it now!

Cook the first side of the chicken until golden brown and delicious - about 3 mintues. Don't play with it. Just let it grill and carmelize. Then flip and do the same with the second side. When both sides of the chicken are finished, add a happy scoop of your sauce and use your spatula and a tine fork (like you would use for grilling) to chop up your chicken teriyaki into lovely bite-sized pieces. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds or so, and plate onto your rice and/or veggies. Add another ladle of sauce, and you are in Sarku/Sakkio heaven.

Play with it a bit. You WILL develop the right flavors. Don't be afraid to experiment, and don't get frustrated if your first batch isn't a Food Court delicacy.

Any questions / comments / misc. trivia - feel free to ask.

Joined Dec 23, 2000
Copied your entire almost-recipe and am gonna try it.

Help and info like this is what makes this site.

Thanks and welcome.

Fun read, too. Every think about writing a cookbook? :lips:

Joined Nov 20, 2006
The only question I have about the posted recipe is that all of the dietary information I've read about Sakkio Chicken indicates it has zero grams of sugar so I don't understand the brown sugar ingredient.
Joined Sep 27, 2006
OMG!! Thanks for this recipe. I think I am actually addicted to Sarku's teriyaki Chicken. I have tried to replicate it numerous times without success using both breast and thigh meat. Any clue on the hot sauce they offer too? I always dump 2 of those on top of the chicken (with extra sauce). I love it spicy.
Joined Mar 5, 2007
This is something I figured out by accident about 6 months ago. I was shopping on a tight budget, and I came across a package of skinless/boneless thighs that were on sale. I chopped them up and voila! Perfect in rice/ stir fry.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
This is the joy of the nutrition information rules.

First to consider is serving size of the sauce. It was probably something on the order of a tablespoon. If you look at the instructions for this recipe, in a tablespoon of sauce, there will be very little sugar. Some sugar but very little. If the amount of sugar is under a gram in the serving size portion, rounding rules apply and they can declare it as zero.

And so zero calorie food is born as well.
Joined May 2, 2004

Mine may not be japanese but the taste is honestly excellent:)

Tériaki Marinade

This is my adaptation, I was in a rush to eat

1/4 cup soya sauce

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoon of wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves ( minced )

4 french shallots( I use french shallots ), minced very finely

1/4 teaspoon of fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients & marinate 4 hrs to 48 hrs( in the fridge )

This marinade is good for all types of meats & poultry

This marinade is worth trying out, the taste is simply divine

Cheers :beer:
Joined Jun 4, 2008
Try adding a little miso paste to your no-sodium chicken stock for the soup/sauce base. Miso also has a "deep but subtle flavor" and I detect that the Sakkio Sauce probably has it in its "mystery soup" concoction.

Miso paste is a japanese staple used in soups and sauces. It doesn't take much of it to get a flavorful effect.

In your next attempt at the above creation, add just a teaspoon of miso paste to the sauce, or try smaller amounts until you get the desired taste. Miso is salty as well as the soy and teriyaki , (it's made from fermented soy beans mixed with sea salt) so not too much.
Joined Jan 2, 2007
Dear Beloved Readers;

Browsing through myriads of short stories and articles that I have composed - some published, and some not - I stumbled across an ancient tome of wisdom entitled "The Secret to Sarku Success". Returning to this site for the first time in several years, an opportunity presents itself to reply to the ideas, questions, and suggestions that have come along the way.

First and foremost would be the ever-elusive, yet succulent "Beef Sukiyaki". At least that's the title they gave it when I was amongst the Sakkio ranks. I've noticed that some of the locations are actually referring to it as "Beef Teriyaki", which may finally remove a small thorn that has poked my side for neigh on ten years, as anyone who has a fundamental understanding of Japanese cuisine knows that nothing at Sakkio / Sarku qualifies as Sukiyaki. [They also claimed to have "Soba Noodles" and "Maki Rolls", which were really Wei-Chuan brand Chinese noodles and vegetable spring rolls, respectively, but the all-powerful powers-that-be at the Sakkio head office had the foresight to realize that the average Westerner wouldn't know the difference and wanted to see lots of Japanese-ISH words on the menu... Clever.]

As anyone who frequents Sarku and/or tries to re-create it at home could imagine, the Beef Sukiyaki is grilled and sauced in the same fashion as the Chicken Teriyaki. The difference, therefore, must lie in the preparation itself. And it does.

Start with flank steak or skirt steak, partially frozen but thawed enough to cut would be best. Trim the beef lean, leaving little to no fat behind. Next, slice the beef thin, somewhere in the realm of 1/8 inch - against the grain of the meat - at a slight angle if you are skilled enough [this gives a better surface-area ratio to said meat product, thus creating a more tender final product]. Place your sliced steak in a large metal mixing bowl and season to your own taste [this will take some tweaking on your part] with the following ingredients:

-a fairly large glug of vegetable oil
-a fairly small glug of high-quality pure sesame oil
-black pepper
-pinch of sugar
-granulated garlic
-a splash of burgundy or port
-a conservative sprinkling of cornstarch to bind it all together

With a pair of gloves on, get down and dirty. Mix and mash the **** out of your beef. And when you think you're done, mix and mash it some more. After all, you are tenderizing it in the process. I take it in handfulls and slam it into the bowl, and crush it in my hands. Don't be afraid to manhandle it. You WILL be rewarded.

When you are done, the beef should be a bit glossy, and stick together nicely with the off-white combination of marinade ingredients and oils. You should be able to form it into a nice ball that will stay together. If it falls apart, you haven't mixed enough and reinstate full-on beef abuse. If there is residual liquid, they you may have overdone the "wet" ingredients in the marinade mix. Go easy on the booze.

Form your steak concoction into balls just slightly smaller than a baseball. I would assume in the range of 4 to 6 ounces, because I would like to believe you will get 3 or 4 servings out of a pound of beef. Cover and refridgerate said "steak-balls" for a few hours, or more ideally if you have the time, overnight.

When you are ready, crank your flat-top grill as high as it will go (or, if you are as crazy as I am, slap a giant piece of cast-iron over the searing hot coals of an open fire - the way it would have been done before the Meiji Restoration). With tongs and a tea towel, spread a fine layer of oil on your cooktop and give it a minute or so to heat back up.

Slap your beef ball on the grill and use a spatula to flatten and spread it out. Once you have it spread into a nice thin layer, LEAVE IT ALONE! Don't touch it, press it, or manipulate it in any other way for the next 2 to 3 minutes, or until you can sneak up a corner of the steak and see that it has a glorious charred undercarriage. Turn only once, and grill for an addition 2 or 3 minutes, until side B matches side A [ get the picture]. If you want sliced mushrooms (which I do), now is the time to throw them on top. Slather on a scoop of your awe-inspiring Teriyaki Sauce (you DID remember to make it, right? Refer to my original article "The Secret To Sarku Success", if necessary). Mix up with your spatulas for just a minute, long enough to soften the mushrooms and get the sauce good and hot.

Plate up over top of a generous helping of rice and sauted veggie, and go to town. Perfect. Wonderful. A Teriyaki-fueled paradise for the taste buds.


A few side notes before I bid you adeau.

I would like to thank everyone for their kind words in regards to the first segment of this series, it certainly inspired the second. My apologies that it took so long to follow up, and rest-assured that if this second segment shows interest or sparks questions, I will continue more quickly (perhaps with the recipe for the vegetable spring rolls or tempura :D).

Reading some of the feedback:

Sakkio's recipe for the soup base that makes up the majority of the teriyaki sauce never contained miso, but the addition of miso could certainly add depth, and if nothing else, (gasp) a bit more authentic Japanese flair.

I really don't know the exact recipe for Sakkio's Hot Sauce. I do know that it contained "Tuong Ot Toi Viet Nam" Vietnamese Chili Sauce, watered down with something, and sweetened a bit, but I am unsure of exact ingredients. This particular recipe was deligated to the 50-something year old Chinese wife of the owner, and I only caught glimpses of the production. I also was in love with this hot sauce, both for spring rolls and as a topping for stir-fry to give it a "kick", so I can feel the pain of those who cannot replicate it. Perhaps I'll give it a go...

It's been nearly six years since I have even worked for Sakkio Japan, and it amazes me the impact this estabishment has had on me. Not only did I start my career as a chef there, learning the fundamentals of the restaurant / hospitality industry, but here I am years later still contemplating the procedures and enlightening a hungy world to the wonders that are... SAKKIO.

Take this knowledge and remember:

"To consume is to survive, to eat is to truly LIVE"


K. Hitchens
Joined Jul 21, 2009
A very big thank you to K. Hitchens for the chicken teriyaki post near the beginning of this thread. I took meticulous notes from that post and formed it into general guidelines to prepare this fantastic dish. After three attempts I have achieved something very close to Sarku if not spot on. The marinade for the chicken to sit in overnight is fairly easy and it is surprising how much liquid the chicken will “drink”. It is the brown sauce that is much more difficult. My first attempt resulted in a very spicy sauce that was nothing like the Sarku sauce….although the aftertaste was familiar. The second attempt was just too sweet. In the pot it tasted fine but once it was added to the chicken, the sweetness factor really took off. On my third attempt everything combined to be nearly identical to the dish we buy at our local mall. My son (age 9) is a huge fan of Sarku’s chicken teriyaki so I used him and other family members to judge the results. Everyone agreed, nearly identical if not right on. If anyone is interested, please respond here and I’ll post the recipe I formulated and refined. Again, thank you very much K. Hitchens.

Joined Jul 29, 2009
Thank you for the post and all of the helpful directions it contained. I do have to admit that I am still struggling to get the sauce spot on. I would love to try your refined recipe Dean!
Joined Jul 31, 2009
I have also made this sauce twice, the second try being much better than the first but still not "spot on". Dean, I am very interested to see, as I am sure many others are, the recipe you came up with.


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