Good morning Peeps, and happy Monday! Today’s Meatball Monday post is inspired by my hand’s down favorite restaurant here in South Carolina. You might be thinking it’s one of the many delicious and acclaimed restaurants in Charleston, but in fact, it’s a tiny gem in the back of a strip mall in Summerville called Myles and Juns Yakitori.
We’ve been to Myles and Jun’s many times now, and I literally have not tasted a single dish that was not phenomenal. From the fried Hamachi collar, crispy pork belly, and unagi rice, to the sake marinated salmon, wagyu beef, and lamb leg with 7 spices – I could go on and on because even their simplest of soups are a culinary delight.
Don’t even get me started on the honey toast with nutella and red bean ice cream – it’s Hungry Jr’s favorite and I can never resist at least a bite, though it’s not even a little bit gluten free or low carb!
Part of the appeal of MJY is the atmosphere – not only is it a lovely space, but the owners and staff are so friendly and welcoming that you instantly feel like a part of the family. On our first visit over a year ago, the dinner rush hadn’t started and it was relatively quiet so Myles chatted with us a bit and was so enthusiastic about the care they take to make everything fresh that she insisted on showing us her exquisite little garden out behind the restaurant where they grow all of their herbs.
Myles is also a mixology genius who sails through the dining room nightly with a pitcher of her latest refreshing Sake Sangria creation, of which she generously gives out free samples. It’s clear that she is so proud of them (as she should be) that she simply MUST share them with you – even though it must cost them a small fortune to do so.
Her husband Jun is just as committed to quality – he even grinds the meat for these chicken meatballs by hand to make sure it’s the exact consistency that he wants!
One night Myles was so excited about a batch of Kimchi that “Mr. Jun” made that she brought me out some to try even though it wasn’t on the menu. It was the best kimchi I’d ever had and I told her so. As we were leaving she handed me a bag with a container full of kimchi to take home from “Mr. Jun” who waved from the kitchen with a big smile.
To say I adore these people is an understatement – their joy and passion for great food, and love of feeding people rivals even my own, and that’s saying something. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way because they were nominated by their fans for Best Summerville Restaurant, and have amazing reviews on Yelp, which is how we first found them. Now we’re moving to New York and Myles and Jun Yakitori is easily in the top three of things I’ll miss about living here in South Carolina.
Of all the delicious dishes that I’ve eaten at MJY, the tsukune – described simply as “chicken meatballs with orange chili sauce” is my favorite. It defies logic because their crispy pork belly is the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve also tried almost every single other yakitori they make, all of them UH-MAZING. There is just something about these tender orbs of chicken that I can’t resist. I mean we all know I love meatballs, but even I don’t usually order them in a restaurant when there is so much else to choose from!
The other night we were having dinner at MJY and in addition to a bunch of other small plates, I of course had the meatballs. I lamented that it would probably be one of our last visits before we moved and pondered whether I could successfully recreate the tsukune in a low carb version for Meatball Monday. Hungry Jr. was dubious – MJY is his favorite restaurant too and he didn’t think I could do it. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
With no time to lose as we’ve been packing all week for the move, I left MJY and went to the Harris Teeter next door to get all of the ingredients. Yesterday I got to work in hopes of creating at least an ode to the Tsukune – not expecting to nail it exactly. I’m happy to say I got close – very close. Is it as good as MJY’s version? Frankly – no. But it’s close enough if you’re not able to visit MJY personally.
I used the best quality ground chicken I could find (organic, free range, etc.) and I think it made a difference. These are flavored primarily with ginger, scallions, and a touch of sesame oil. Then to recreate their sauce and keep it easy for those of us who don’t have hours to make our own, I used a sugar free marmalade as a base, with fish sauce and chopped red chilis added – unbelievably easy and it tasted amazing. I’ll be putting this sauce on EVERYTHING from now on. I recommend using chain mail gloves while eating it so you don’t gnaw your own fingers off by accident. You’re welcome.
I hope you’ll make these and let me know what you think – Mr. Hungry and I love them, though nothing will ever beat the real thing. These would be fantastic served alongside my Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice and/or my Spicy Sriracha Roasted Broccoli!
If you ever find yourself in Summerville, SC though, you simply MUST go to Myles and Jun Yakitori and order the Tsukune – pffft, at $4 a serving order a BUNCH of them and then chow down like no one is watching.
Tell them The Hungries sent you, and that we miss them like crazy.
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup almond flour
- 2 Tbsp scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 2 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- oil for frying
- ¼ cup sugar free orange marmalade
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp (or more) red chilis, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp water
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. The mixture will be wet, but do your best to form it into 16 balls. Heat about 1 Tbsp your choice of oil (I used avocado) in a nonstick pan and cook the meatballs on medium heat until golden brown and cooked through. Toss the meatballs in the sauce until well coated and serve warm.
- Combine the marmalade, fish sauce, chilis, and water in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
If you love meatballs (and who doesn’t?) be sure to check out the Recipe Index where we have over 45 low carb and gluten free meatball recipes to choose from!
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