Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yakitori Totto

Chicken skin, gizzard, chicken bones - these are usually parts of the chicken that I'd toss into the trash. Yet, our first meal in NYC found us at Yakitori Totto, contemplating between ordering these very items.

With a 7pm first pitch looming over our heads, we arrived at Yakitori Totto a good 15 minutes before it opened at 5:30. Surprisingly, we weren't the only ones with 3 or 4 other parties lining up behind us. Promptly at 5:30, the hostess came down to flip the "Closed" sign to "Open" and usher the growing crowd up the dark stairs and into the second story restaurant. Without any reservations, we were seated quickly at the bar and watched as the restaurant quickly filled up within the first ten minutes of opening.

Yakitori is a type of Japanese street food - "grilled" chicken, to be specific. Thanks to Yelp, I picked this restaurant as something relatively nearby the hotel, on the way to the ball park, and something different than the rest of the itinerary. At Yakitori Totto food is elevated beyond it's usual street status (although they do serve every imaginable part of the chicken), with menu offerings such as prawns, kobe beef, asparagus, etc. Service was quick, yet friendly, allowing us to walk out the door in less than an hour.

While I'll be the first to admit that we could have been more adventurous in our menu selections, we had a pretty decent sampling of the extensive menu:

Enoki bacon - enoki mushroom wrapped in a slice of bacon
Satsuma Age - homemade fried fish cakes mixed with vegetables
Kawa - chicken skin
Shitake - japanese shitake mushroom with salt and pepper
Harami - skirt steak
Hokuhoku - grilled garlic
Kuro Buta Negi Pon - organic pork with scallion and ponzu (our favorite)
Reba - chicken liver

Overall, taking the food, price, and (speedy) service, this was one of our favorite meals of the trip. I'd definitely recommend stopping by to mix things up as long as you get there pre-opening or have a reservation.

Up Next: The Spotted Pig

Yakitori Totto
251 West 55th Street

Link Love:
In New York's Best Cheap Eats
Ruhlman declares it the best chicken ever.

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