Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
May 10, 2007 06:59 AM

Yakitori totto - mini report

After hearing the chatter on these boards, I decided to try this place last night - and what a gem it was. A smallish but stylish spot, hidden away on the second floor- it immediately reminded me of Tokyo. We (2 of us) were immediately ushered to the sleek bar, and we then proceeded to order away - tebasaki (wing), sunagimo (gizzard), shishito pepper with miso, tsukune (both shiso and tare - sauce versions) natto kinchaku (yum - crispy tofu skin on outside, smelly beans on inside), and juicy berkshire pork belly (mustard and lemon as well as ponzu version) - heavenly! All grill items were excellent - perfectly seasoned, cooked, and presented. Additionally, we sampled their jidori karaage (on the bone) and silken tofu salad topped with thinly sliced/julienned greens, redolent with nutty sesame flavor. We finished off our meal with yaki onigiri (perfectly seasoned with shiso/ume on inside and crispy skin on the outside, and shake (salmon) chazuke (fairly standard version). Those items and 2 rounds of 2 draft beer totaled approx. 87 bucks. I did note some past comments about smokiness in the room but from my location at the bar, I was not bothered by smoke. I had all but given up on yakitori fare in NYC (see, e.g., E.Vill.) but I'll definitely be back for more.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Yakitori totto is really 1 of my fave places! I like their skewers, even their "chicken tails" taste delicious, the only thing is it gets pricy if we ever want to have fulfiling meals, last time 3 of us ended up paying $150 excluding tips.

      1 Reply
      1. re: via jon

        I agree, I love totto and its east side version, torys. It can get quite pricy with sake / shochu; I think the last time it was about $250 for two people. Also, because both take reservations, its harder to do walk-ins.

      2. How do you order here - all at once or a a little at a time.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jmax

          They tend to deliver pieces as they're made, so the table or bar table can get pretty crowded with small plates. I would stagger the orders more next time. Maybe a couple apps first, and then as those arrive, place an order for skewered items, and then halfway through that, the rice orders.

          1. re: jmax

            We always order everything at once and it comes out fairly well staggered. Then again, we love it so much we usually wolf it down fast.

            I have been to Tory's several times (trying to get the chicken sashimi--they were out of it every time!) and I have concluded that Tory's is similar but the execution is consistently a notch below Totto. It's particularly apparent with things like gizzard and skin, which are sublime at Totto.

            Also, they do draft beer at Tory's instead of the bottled Sapporo Reserve, and you wind up getting less beer for the money (the bottled stuff works great for me in this case).

          2. Love this place! Totto is so much better than Taisho in East Village. Like Via Jon, I love their chicken tails (and it is NOT gross...) and nankotsu! When in season they have the grilled matsutake mushroom - ethereal!

            I also found their negitori don very comforting - what's better than raw egg with rice? =D

            I haven't been to Tory's but have also heard similar comments about it being inferior to Totto's. Now if they can only reduce the wait time over the weekend...

            4 Replies
            1. re: kobetobiko

              When is matsutake season again? Haven't had it here since I left LA 10 years ago.

              1. re: kayonyc

                It was during the fall. The grilled matsutake I ordered at Tottos was served prepared on a plate as an special appetizer. It was very "meaty". I also had grilled matsutake at Aburiya Kinnosuke and it was served on shichirin grill. The aroma was so amazing! The people around us couldn't stop looking at our matsutake, which was large in size and sliced. This was actually of a bigger size than the ones that i had at Tottos, but it was also more expensive.

                1. re: kobetobiko

                  try the eringi mushroom--not as amazing as matsutakes, but definitely meaty

                  1. re: kenito799

                    Oh yes, that's definitely one of my "must have" item when I go there! =D

            2. Agreed, this place is excellent. I think their oyako-don is the best in the city, it's not dry like most other places.

              I also recommend the soft knee bone if they have it.

              3 Replies
                1. re: jmax

                  It's not really bone. It's more like the cartilage in between the knee. It's a little chewy, yet crunchy.

                  1. re: eatfood

                    Knee bone as well as the breast bone are so chock full of unique, individual flavors and textures you can't believe they are from the same bird. In general, the more obscure and weird the piece they are grilling, the more characteristic and special is its flavor. One of my favorites is the gizzard, which somehow absorbs the smoke in such an intense way. And the medium-rare creaminess of the liver is to die for. How do they get that meat off the neck??? Actually, tail is everyone's favorite--if they have any when we get there, we always order all they have. I need to get back there soon...I am going into withdrawal...