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Yakitori totto - mini report

k
kayonyc May 10, 2007 06:59 AM

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.

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  1. via jon RE: kayonyc May 10, 2007 12:51 PM

    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
      e
      ericat RE: via jon May 11, 2007 07:41 AM

      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. j
      jmax RE: kayonyc May 10, 2007 01:30 PM

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: jmax
        k
        kayonyc RE: jmax May 10, 2007 02:14 PM

        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
          k
          kenito799 RE: jmax May 11, 2007 07:54 AM

          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. k
          kobetobiko RE: kayonyc May 11, 2007 08:13 AM

          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
            k
            kayonyc RE: kobetobiko May 11, 2007 08:43 AM

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

            1. re: kayonyc
              k
              kobetobiko RE: kayonyc May 11, 2007 10:10 AM

              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
                k
                kenito799 RE: kobetobiko May 11, 2007 11:00 AM

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

                1. re: kenito799
                  k
                  kobetobiko RE: kenito799 May 11, 2007 11:38 AM

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

          2. eatfood RE: kayonyc May 11, 2007 08:41 AM

            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: eatfood
              j
              jmax RE: eatfood May 11, 2007 12:22 PM

              Do you eat the bone?

              1. re: jmax
                eatfood RE: jmax May 11, 2007 01:32 PM

                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
                  k
                  kenito799 RE: eatfood May 11, 2007 08:20 PM

                  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...

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