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Torishige (yakitori-ya) in Meguro-ku Tokyo

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  • Andy P. Jun 22, 2000 06:17 PM
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On Meguro dori, at the landmark called "Motokeibajo" is my favorite yakitori-ya. The place is named Torishige. For those not familiar with the phrase, "yakitori" is, specifically, chicken pieces cooked on a bamboo skewer over hot coals. A "yakitori-ya" is the restaurant (or food cart) that sells yakitori, along with a myriad of other skewer-impaled foods.

Here is a quick rundown of the can't-miss items at Torishige:

Tebesaki (chicken wings) - My boss swears that the barometer of a great yakitori-ya is their tebasaki. He raves about Torishige's. An single order consists of a single skewer with two wings. Slightly seasoned with salt, the wings are cooked until the skin is crispy, and the meat is incredibly juicy. I'm hooked on these.

Momoniku - Big chunks of chicken meat (dark) interspersed with green pepper and onion. The thing that stands out at this place is the tare, (soy based sauce) that the momoniku is constantly basted in while cooking. The tare here is the perfect balance of soy sauce, mirin, and just a touch of sugar.

Sasami - Pieces of skinless chicken breast, lightly salted, and served with a large pinch of wasabi on each chunk. The combination of wasabi and chicken breast is one that is now a staple in my kitchen.

Shi so - These babies ROCK! Three per skewer, these pinwheels of pork and peppermint leaf (about 1/4" deep x 1" - 1 1/2" wide) are so succulent that no condiment is needed to enhance their flavor.

Aspara - Asparagus wrapped in pork. Another Big Winner. A whole stalk of asparagus, cut into four pieces, each wrapped in pork (some places use bacon), and cooked until the pork is slightly crisp, and has somehow infused the asparagus with just a hint of pork flavor. Try sprinkling this with a little shichimi (7 spices)!

Wash it all down with their ice-cold Yebisu beer. Heaven.

Torishige also serves the standard chicken skins, hearts, livers, cartilige (sp?), quail eggs, ginko nuts, a wide range of grill-ready vegetables, plus salads, and some nice rice dishes.

I knew that this place was special the first time I ever went there. I was alone, sitting at the counter, and the middle-aged Japanese couple sitting next to me ask, in perfect English, where I was from. When I told them I was from California, they responded that they were from Whittier,CA. On vacation in Kyoto, they made a special trip to Tokyo - for the sole reason of going to Torishige. It has been their favorite for years.

Also, the place is staffed by a bunch of great guys, who speak some English.

Okay,Tokyo chowhounds, where is YOUR favorite yakitori-ya?

Note to the Alpha: If Delta coughs up, I'll be happy to show you where this place is. Also, I couldn't help but notice that your new mouthpiece, Wonki, is frighteningly close to "Tonki". Coincedence?

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