Dear Food Diary:
If you ever thought getting a reservation in NYC was hard, try Japan with zero Japanese. It’s almost impossible.
We wouldn’t have gotten to eat at this amazing chicken spot if my friend Y (a local) wasn’t in Tokyo. To get us into Tori Tama, she called several times just to be on the waiting list and when seats opened up, she begged the Japanese locals who were first on the list to let her “american” friends try this no limit chicken yakitori and sashimi place before leaving.
One of my favorite and most unique meals in Tokyo. I didn’t even know chicken had so many parts and textures.
Even with our Google Map we were lost. Tori Tama was a far walk from the subway station. Tucked underneath the highway. There original location wasn’t big enough to fit the demand so they opened a second shop a few blocks away – the one we went to.
Each part of the chicken is intricately labeled. It’s not just thigh or drumstick here but distinguished as left of, right of, front of, back of or near this or that. Parts I never even knew existed or were edible, let alone delicious.
Chicken Sashimi – Breast Meat with Salted Kelp
Super tender and juicy, I never had breast meat this juicy before. It almost felt like eating thigh or some kind of fish sashimi. Just a little salt for flavor. So fresh and good. Who knew raw chicken could taste this nice.
Chicken sashimi – Thigh with Wasabi
A bit herbal and not as bright as the usual wasabi. Pickled veggies on top. Nice and tender but the breast meat with salt and kelp was a better chicken sashimi option.
I don’t remember which part of the chicken this was but ultra juicy and tender, the sweet and chard crispy exterior was phenomenal. The control of the fire and timing was pure perfection. Chicken in Asia tastes better in general, but this was out of control good. Best chicken yakitori I’ve ever had.
Nisali (between tail and spine)
Crunchy like soft bone and tendon with a sprinkle of salt and that nice chard exterior. The juice burst out at the bite, so good. We were all smiling with chicken bliss. I never thought that kind of happiness existed.
Chochin – Unformed Egg
Saving the best for last. This was out of this world “unique”. Unformed egg with all its surroundings tissues and what have you. I’ve never had anything like it. The only closest to it was at Blue Hill Storn Barns, but the yolk was dried and shaved onto pasta, like cheese. Here, it’s all fresh and grilled. Chewy with little pops. Sorta like stomach. The meat part is chewy, organ like. The yolk park was the best.
What’s left to say. Fatty, crispy, chard flavors. I haven’t met any pork belly I didn’t like.
Dragon Fruit Baby
Sweet onion like sprout. The three of us thought it was sweet onion or young ginger, but the crunchy texture with a burst of scallion flavor got us all confused. Thankfully, the chef uncovered the mystery.
We loved our experience at Tori Tama. Chicken yakitori will never be the same again. Bringing a local along is a must.
P.S. Chubby’s Rating: