Friday, May 11, 2007

Chicken in Totto: It Takes All Parts

Yakitori translates as "grilled bird." Lots of grilled, skewered, unbirdlike things have come to be known as yakitori, but orthodox, fundamentalist yakitori is chicken, all parts of the chicken. Well, maybe not all parts. At Yakitori Totto, an authentic yakitori bar in New York, I didn't see chicken brains on the menu (does anybody eat birdbrains?), nor did I see chicken feet. Perhaps it would be too torturous to skewer a chicken foot. I figure maybe they chop off the feet and send them en masse to dim sum houses.

We had a range of chicken parts at Totto, and not a turkey in the bunch. The liver was exquisite, rich and silky, a poor man's foie gras. Peppers stuffed with chicken meatballs were delicious. I think the "tail" was really the Pope's nose, or as my grandfather would say, the tuchus ("Save me the tuchus, Mama," he always told my grandmother on chicken nights). The soft knee bone (you heard me) was real fun food, with a nice cartilage crunch to go with the chickeny goodness. And then there was thigh with scallion, breast with wasabi, and heart. You gotta have heart!

"The knee bone's connected to the skew-er..."

We did have a couple of non-chicken items: grilled rice ball and tofu with miso (too sweet for me). After eating a bunch of skewers, with beer or whatever, it's customary to end with a starch. I had fried tiny fish over rice.

I'm glad we left a little room for dessert. The desserts at Totto were fabulous. Two of us shared the green tea pudding (intense in flavor as well as color) and the apricot kernel tofu. The fresh, aromatic, and sensually creamy tofu dessert may well have been the highlight of the meal for me.

Yakitori Totto, 251 W. 55th St., between Broadway & 8th Avenue

Yakitori Totto on Urbanspoon


Blogger Kathy said...

That green tea pudding looks amazing does it have a custardy texture (it looks like it's almost gelatin-like, judging by the way it holds its own shape)?
I haven't been back to nyc for far too long, but the pudding and the apricot kernel tofu you mentioned, is going on my must eat list when I return.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Cherches said...

I'd describe the texture of the green tea pudding as dense-moist-creamy. Definitely not gelatin-like.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ordered "torinegi-don".
It is served with "onsen-egg".
It was worst chicken-don I have ever eaten in my life.
It tastes just only Sake.
I can not taste any chicken,but Sake.
I complained about it.
But waitress answered me "This is Mirin taste not Sake."
I am Japanese,
I know what the difference of taste and smell between Sake and Mirin.
I am sure that is Sake.
And also my family business in Japan is Sake store and Sake factory.
They can not fool me.
Even they must not fool customer like that way.
If always they serve like that, they must explain that "It serves with mixing of Sake." or change the name itself as "Sake-don with chicken and onion".
Sake has strong taste like destroy all any other flavors.
Specially, this meal was sprinkled with uncooked Sake.
Or, they have just abused me( I am just one customer.) by that way, haven't they?
I want to tell you all that In Japan, we don't have any meal sprinkled by uncooked Sake to destroy flavor.
If any Japanese restaurant served meal with full of smell of Sake, it means to hide any other unwelcome taste from it.

4:17 AM  

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