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ulterior epicure

Yakitori Totto

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Glad you liked it..

I went there last night and had another great experience.. We went with another person.. We had some of our favorites.. I really liked the chicken wing last night.. Also we ordered the pork dumplings for the first time.. They were off the hook!  Pan fried, really crispy and served with a couple of great sauces.. We arrived after a 7 o'clock play, maybe 1030?There was no wait and we got a private room.. We drank 2 20 dollar carafes of sake and about 4 beers in total.. Dinner for the three of us was 123 bucks..

I really love that private little room they have in the corner. Last time I went with a party of 4 they gave it to us. Makes for a more intimate experience.

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This place is busy enough... but I have to post about the meal that we just had.

I heard about Yakitori Totto through a recent rave on ruhlman's blog. We had 7:00 reservations tonight -- they stop taking reservations at 7:30 (I'm pretty sure).

Our meal was simply outstanding.

--

cold tofu in a basket: quite good, but passable (takes up needed space)

raw octopus appetizer: fantastic. pretty spicy (a fair amonut of wasabi), but also a bit sweet, similar to some tuna tartare preparations.

fried sardines: utterly addictive. served with a bowl containing green tea powder and salt, for dipping.

--

ok, onto the yakitori. for many of these there was a choice of shiso, sea salt, or some kind of brown sauce for a topping; we chose sea salt for all.

unfortunately, the only stuff they had from the exotic chicken portion of the menu by the time we got there were the soft bone and the tail.

soft bone: interesting to eat, glad we tried it, not a whole lot of flavor

tail: WOW. one of the best dishes of the night, just bursting with flavor

hearts: fantastic, texture was unlike other hearts I've had; not at all chewy. again, immensely flavorful.

liver: WOW. like no chicken liver i've ever had. foie-like in texture, milder in flavor, absolutely delicious.

gizzard: WOW. quite chewy in texure, but not at all unpleasantly so, immensely flavorful.

here's the thing. after eating these pieces of organ meat, which were like pure chicken flavor bombs, going back to regular chicken meat was bound to be a disappointment.

thigh with scallions: not a ton of chicken flavor, but very good

chicken meatball: we actually didn't love this; it was good, but quite mild. i take it many have had this with a sauce on the side; we didn't have any sauce, perhaps this was needed.

shrimp: great, very flavorful.

eggplant with miso glaze: good, but passable; save room for other stuff, imho.

bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms: wouldn't order again. texture was nice, but, surprisingly, not much flavor (not even much bacon flavor!)

pork with mustard: get the pork with scallions instead

pork with scallions: terrific. this was either belly or some other quite fatty cut.

dessert: frozen banana with coconut milk, tapioca balls, and mint: superb.

i think that's it, but i could be forgetting stuff.

sorry no pics.

btw, they no longer have chicken sashimi, but our waitress said that their "sister restaurant" Torys on east 52nd does.

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Sorry dagordon for the above post. I'm totally out of it today.

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Our meal was simply outstanding.

How much was dinner, if you don't mind me asking? Sounds like a great meal ... What did you drink? Beer? Sake?

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Our meal was simply outstanding.

How much was dinner, if you don't mind me asking? Sounds like a great meal ... What did you drink? Beer? Sake?

I think it was $106 before tip; this was for two people, and I had a glass of Onikoroshi sake.

Edited to add that this was for an obscene amount of food for two people; whenever we're trying a place for the first time where there isn't a standard number of dishes that one orders, we wildly overorder, out of fear of missing out on something. That's to say that you can eat comfortably at Totto for substantially less than $106 for two.


Edited by dagordon (log)

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I love Totto as well. My girlfriend lives around the corner so we go once every week or two. I agree completely with Raji and think there are only a handful of restaurants where you are transported back to Japan, like Totto, Sugiyama, Toraya (the one on 52nd, although I haven't been there recently), perhaps Tsukushi as well.

You can get the chicken sashimi at Torys, the new affiliate on 52nd near 2nd ave but it is a slightly different style than before -- the sauces are stronger, so I don't like them as much. By the way, I had a party with some co-workers a couple of years ago when Totto still regularly served chicken sashimi, and every one of them (after much initial resistance) marveled at how good it was.

The menu is very similar, although I think the execution is better at Totto. Torys is still very good but I think it takes a little time to get used to the fire, grill, the sumi, in a different environment. Don't get me wrong, it is still very good but at Totto you will get the liver excellent every single time, with the slightly seared skin which very delicately holds the creamy liver. I suspect that Torys will be at that level very shortly.

Torys is also open for lunch, although I wasn't too fond of their curry (it is tomato based, which is unusual) but I've only been once for lunch so the jurys still out.

The amazing thing about Totto is that they do everything so well. The "kyona to jako no onsen tamago salad" is a Japanese take on the frisee salad with poached egg (using the silverfish in place of bacon) and is truly a great dish. The kani miso (crab brains is how its usually translated) paired with cream cheese is phenomenal in that it works, although its not my favorite dish. Another interesting dish is the fuya fuya hanpen, which is deep fried fish cakes but comes out like my favorite version of french toast/fried mozzarella (this dish was conceived by one of the waitresses there!).

All of the staff at Totto are excellent, attentive and quite charming. Its one of my favorite restaurants.

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Bacon wrapped Enoki Mushrooms.. This was awesome also.. The crispy bacon wrapped around the chewy mushroom.. Pure genius to think of this..

Interesting you should say........

I had bacon wrapped enokis from Vernon Morales who was at Winterland restaurant in Sanfran at least a year before 2006. Quite delicious if done properly.

bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms: wouldn't order again. texture was nice, but, surprisingly, not much flavor (not even much bacon flavor!)

Good work dave, I am hitting it wednesday I think.

Seems like this needs some of that Bentons Bacon....eh ?

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Good work dave, I am hitting it wednesday I think.

Seems like this needs some of that Bentons Bacon....eh ?

yeah, some bentons would have helped. :biggrin:

ooh, i forgot about the chicken skin yakitori, which we also had. damn good. though immensely fatty (predictably).

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ooh, i forgot about the chicken skin yakitori, which we also had. damn good. though immensely fatty (predictably).

Like in a crispy pork belly way ?

I am unable to understand what the word "though" means in the preceding post.

I found this online quiz to help, hope it helps....

http://www.usingenglish.com/quizzes/89.html

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I still don't get it. It would only make sense if "delicious" and "immensely fatty" didn't mean the exact same thing.

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I still don't get it.  It would only make sense if "delicious" and "immensely fatty" didn't mean the exact same thing.

Sneakeater, you have to use the emoticons! :wink::raz:


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All of the staff at Totto are excellent, attentive and quite charming.  Its one of my favorite restaurants.

Mine too. It's been mostly the same staff, chefs and manager since it opened 3-4 years ago. I haven't made it t to torys yet either but I'm sure after a short learning curve it will be just as good, and I'm really glad there is another one to split the crowds up...

Kanimiso salad is a favorite of mine, there is a sushiya in nakameguro that gives you prodigious amounts, I should be there later this week...

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I still don't get it. It would only make sense if "delicious" and "immensely fatty" didn't mean the exact same thing.

I assumed your "inability" (to quote you) to understand the post was due to the correct usage of the english term "Though".

Is it your contention that "immensely fatty" should be equated to "Delicious" ?

I know that clearly isnt true.

Many people say "Fat =Flavor"

Actually Fat =Fat

Flavor is composed of several other particular points like acid balance and salinity just to name a few.........

Thus there are lots of delicious things that arent immensely fatty (Corn in August)

Lots of immensely fatty things that are flavorful (Foie gras)

Lots of Immensely fatty things that are disgusting (fermented whale meat the national icelandic dish)

Does that help ?


Edited by Vadouvan (log)

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I WAS JOKING.

of course i knew you were joking......

You blinked too soon...... :smile:


Edited by Vadouvan (log)

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I've had whale meat in Norway...it really isn't that bad....ok, it's not very good either.

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I've had whale meat in Norway...it really isn't that bad....ok, it's not very good either.

Ditto. It certainly didn't taste like chicken.


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Yakitori Totto is a totally unique experience. I would recommend going out of the way for it, and especially so if you're in need of a theatre pick (though then again, the smoke might put off your theatre seating neighbors!).

Didn't sample such an extensive portion of the menu as others, but I do recall being blown away by their oyako don. I confess, I inwardly lamented the safe choices of my dining companions, but this, the most basic of dishes, was the highlight for me--it tasted like true home cooking. The raw egg blended all the elements of rice, chicken, and scallion together beautifully.

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If I want to get a booth @ Totto on Thursday, but think arrival time is going to be between 7-8 what should my gameplan be?

Make a reservation and try to get there for 7 or just show up between 7 & 8 and wait for a table?

Party of 4

Cheers

MJR


�As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans.� - Ernest Hemingway, in �A Moveable Feast�

Brooklyn, NY, USA

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Sneakeater is right, the wait is likely an hour or more. The only strategy is to make a reservation (I think they only accept reservations for a portion of the restaurant and only before 6 or 7pm -- can't remember the exact cut-off time). After that, you go and put your name on a list (you can't call in -- you have to physically go) but they will call you on a cell so you don't have to wait in the restaurant.

Raji, I love kani miso as well. I went on Sunday and found that what I remembered as kani miso was their "shuto" with cream cheese, which they referred to as tuna liver paste, so apologies for my mistake. I did try a couple of new things -- the sticky potato sliced raw with bainiku/ume paste in a kind of mini sandwich with nori to wrap it with. Also, their version of ajitsuke (sesame flavored) nori which is addictively simple.

The problem is that all of their food goes so well with their beer, which is also excellent, so its hard for me to stop drinking (although my "dessert" is the grapefruit squeezed into the shochu).

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