For quite some time I’ve been fascinated by the idea of small, yakitori bar type joints in Japan. For those that don’t know what this concept is, it is essentially a long bar with open flame coals where the well drinks would be. All manner of chicken parts are grilled on skewers, charred over the coals before you and served up hot and fresh to your plate. I’ve never been to Japan, and therefore have never been to an authentic yakitori joint. Now, you may be thinking that NYC would surely have an authentic place like this, being a cultural melting pot and all. The problem is that NYC’s zoning laws don’t allow for open-flame charcoal style cooking indoors at restaurants. So any place that claims to be BBQ, or grilling style (like Korean BBQ, for example) is actually a cheap knock off version that is done with electric heater cooking coils and infrared grills. NOT real charcoal.
So anyway, with that caveat placed firmly up top, we can get down to the goods. Torishin is a NYC yakitori restaurant located in the 50s on the west side. We tried a shitload of chicken, with a bit of pork and veggies mixed in as well. Unfortunately there is no open-facing bar where you can watch the chefs cook this stuff in front of you, like you can in Japan, but the end products were all really nice. I enjoyed every course of this yakitori omakase.
First was a bowl of pickled cukes and daikon. Unimpressive, for me.
This next bowl is meant to ba a palate cleanser. Shredded daikon. I’m really not too much of a fan of daikon to begin with, so I barely dipped into this:
Next, more daikon. This time a thick “burger patty” of it, topped with shrimp, veggies, and a dreaded piece of eggplant (which is a disgusting, vile vegetable).
Now on to some good shit. Chicken hearts. These were very tasty, and probably one of my favorites of the evening. They tasted, to me, like mild beef skirt steak.
Chicken breast wrapped in shiso leaf:
Chicken thigh (mmmmmmm):
Crab and shrimp with black mushrooms and yuzu jelly:
Asparagus. To me, this is a colossal waste of money. Essentially each skewer comes out to like $8 a pop. This plate was for four people. So we each got one asparagus shoot, which cost us $8 each. Rip off.
Chicken meatballs. Very tasty!
Chicken thigh meat wrapped in chicken skin. I liked this skewer a lot.
To finish off, we were given a choice of rice dish. This first one came in a broth, more like a soup:
This one was rice with ground chicken on top and a small cup of chicken broth on the side:
Dessert was either a shiso sorbet (left), sake jelly with kiwi and cherry (center), or strawberry sorbet (right). I went with the shiso sorbet and absolutely loved it. Very refreshing.
362 W. 53rd St.
New York, NY 10019