Recipe for Chicken ‘Karaage’ from the ‘Midnight Diner’

This recipe for chicken marinated in a blend of spices and sake before being fried comes from Yaro Abe's iconic manga.


WordsClémence Leleu


It isn’t only the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli that make viewers’ mouths water. The dishes concocted at nightfall by the owner of an izakaya in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district also whet the appetite of readers of Midnight Diner, the manga by Yaro Abe. Here, a recipe for chicken karaage, that is, chicken that has been marinated for several hours in a mixture of sake, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and spices before being covered with breadcrumbs and then fried. According to the chef, when it comes to making a good karaage, ‘it’s all in the coating!’

For the uninitiated, each short story in the Midnight Diner is based around a character sitting at the bar in the establishment and the dish they order. The title of each chapter also takes its name from the dish in question. 

The manga has been emulated by others. It was adapted into a series with the feel of a Japanese drama, Midnight Diner, aired on Netflix. A cookery book based on the manga is also now available, in which four Japanese chefs have transcribed 75 dishes straight from the kitchen of the owner of the diner in the manga and from Yaro Abe’s imagination.

Serves 2 to 3


1 chicken thigh (250 g)

1 piece (250 g) chicken breast

1⁄2 tsp grated garlic

1⁄2 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp soy sauce

1⁄3 tsp salt

1⁄2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp sake

1 to 2 tsp flour

Potato starch

1⁄2 tsp sesame oil

Oil for frying


Remove the skin, tendons and any visible fat from the chicken thigh. Cut into large pieces.

Repeat with the chicken breast and cut longways. Place all the pieces in a mixing bowl and knead the meat with the sesame oil.

In another mixing bowl, mix the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sake. Add the pieces of chicken and mix well. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Add a little flour to make the mixture gluey. If it doesn’t hold together, add more flour.

Remove the excess flour and dust each piece of chicken with potato starch.

Heat the oil to 1600-1700 C and fry the chicken. Turn the karaage several times in the frying basket when they start to brown and firm up. Increase the temperature of the oil and stop cooking once they are golden brown and crispy. 


La Cantine de Minuit : La cuisine japonaise à la maison (‘Midnight Diner: Japanese Cooking At Home’) (2021), a recipe book by Yaro Abe and Nami Iijima published by Le Lézard Noir (not currently available in English).