Monday, August 15, 2011

Yakitori Totto

A while ago, it's was Mr. M&P's birthday. I usually help with deciding where he'd want to go for dinner. But this time, he wanted full reign. With that, he picked Yakitori Totto. This was a real surprise to me because he never expressed interest in yakitori before. I happily arranged everything and off we went with some friends for deliciously grilled Japanese food.

We started off the night with some drinks. I had soju with grapefruit juice ($7.50). It came with a tall glass of soju on ice and a half grapefruit with a juicer. I juiced my own fruit. I guess that's freshness for you.

And then we started ordering from the kitchen. Most of the yakitori dishes range from $2.50 to $4 each. There are also some specialty items that may cost around $7. But we stuck to the smaller dishes and shared everything. Below is the salmon roe ($8) which was really good. Each little bubble of fish egg was filled with briny goodness. We each took a spoonful and let the beads pop in our mouths releasing their juices down our throats. The salmon roe was really fresh and delicious.
This dish is a spicy Japanese cucumber pickle ($6). I liked how it tasted fresh and naturally sweet only to be balanced out with some spicy sauce, a little pickling, and toasted sesame oil.
Here we tried some grilled chicken gizzards. They were only okay. Normally, I'm a big fan of gizzards. I like the rubbery yet crunchy texture of this organ. But these were very small and didn't really do much for me.
One of the favorites that night was the grilled chicken skin. It came nicely charred. The crispy outside gave way to a fattier inside making it delicious in both flavor and texture.
To be a little more adventurous, we ordered some chicken neck and soft knee bones. The consensus around the table was that it was just okay. Nothing to rave about. I personally enjoyed the soft knee bones though. I ate them a lot growing up. When my mom used to make chicken, she would cut off the soft knee bone piece just for me.
Another fan favorite was the short ribs with salt and pepper. These were really tasty, juicy, and well just plain good. We ordered these over and over again. The chefs cooked these really well leaving the inside pink and soft while the outside was browned and crusty.
The chicken thighs were also very well received. The fattier dark meat fared well over the grill.
The chicken stuffed peppers were quite tasty as well. The peppers ranged from sweet to slightly spicy. The fatty chicken meat stuffed inside was very good as well. We all enjoyed the nice char on these peppers.
For an ungrilled dish, we tried tako wasa (raw octopus with wasabi - $7). The texture is quite chewy but the nose clearing wasabi really brightened it up. This is not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. Definitely worth the one try.
Another ungrilled dish was the onigiri (rice ball) with spicy cod roe ($4.50). This was just okay. The roe was overshadowed by the rice. I would order another dish of the salmon roe before I would order the onigiri again.
The next dish was absolutely the favorite of the table: bacon wrapped mushroom. The grilling really brought out the smoky flavor of the bacon and the mushroom absorbed all that fatty, pork flavor. Not to mention that the mushroom was really tender and juicy. This was really good. A must order.
Here are some seared scallops which were just okay. The scallops seemed to be sliced in half lengthwise making it much thinner. It also lacked flavor.
Next up, the grilled garlic cloves. These were really good except it was quite difficult to remove the skin from the clove. Once we succeeded, we tried the hot pepper paste in the corner which added a nice kick.
These are grilled onigiri (rice ball) with an awesome crust on the outside while the grains on the inside remained soft. I enjoyed the contrast in textures.
Here are some grilled shitake mushrooms which were just okay. They could have used some more seasoning.
The grilled beef tongue was very good. We enjoyed both the beefy flavor and the tender texture. We couldn't even tell that it was tongue. It just tasted good.
We ordered some Japanese fried chicken ($8) which was awesome. Really super crispy and juicy. Our mouths watered and burned as we tried shoving these into our mouths too quickly.
A plate of gyoza was ordered as well. This was the crispiest gyoza or dumpling in fact that I can remember. The bottom was so crispy that it reminded me of a potato chip. The rest of the dumplings was soft and filled with pork goodness. I would definitely order this again.
One of my other favorite dishes was the chicken oyster. There are only 2 oysters in each chicken and they're quite small. But if you can get your hands on this, try it. It's one of the better tasting dark meats on the bird. Really rich in flavor and well a balanced fat ratio.
And lastly, the grilled eggplant. This was very mediocre. The eggplant was slightly rubbery and heavily sauced. I wouldn't get this dish again.
All in all, the dinner at Yakitori Totto was really good. We enjoyed most of the dishes and the service was attentive. The place is small and gets really crowded but I definitely suggest making reservations when you plan on going with a large party. I don't think they take reservations for smaller parties though. I would definitely go back.

Yakitori Totto
251 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019-5202
(212) 245-4555
tottonyc.com

7 comments:

  1. i love yakitori. don't forget the chicken hearts!

    i had the raw octopus before. the waiter confirmed that i really wanted it. guess not too many caucasians order it, hahaha.

    Happy Bday Mr. M&P!

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  2. This post is just trolling and I refuse to indulge you!

    Where is the soft knee bone? I have a chicken carcass and am wondering. I love the oysters though.

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  3. @FF: What do you mean it's trolling?

    The soft knee bone is basically the knee cap of the chicken where the thigh and skinny leg meet.

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  4. Knee bones! YUM!

    I prefer the tips of the keel bones to knee bones but those are good too.

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  5. this all looks absolutely incredible.

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  6. Hope Mr. M&P had a great time celebrating his bday.

    Mmm fatty grilled chicken pieces and BACON-wrapped mushrooms sounds good.

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  7. I dont think Id want to juice my own graprefuit in a restaurant, wouldnt want the smell on my hands and the inevitable squirt in the eye or on my clothes.

    But the food looks fabulous.

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