Last week, while entertaining the bosses from the States, I went to a place in Harajuku called Toriyoshi. Based on the number of addresses on the back of the drink coupons we collected, this seems to be a "chain" restaurant. But, if they are all like this one, grab your sneakers/trainers, and go. (Big plus...they offer menus in English.)
The style is something between a yakitori-ya, and an upscale izakaya. But the food is much better than that of any izakaya that I've been to here.
The restaurant, for the most part, serves chicken parts. Some of the dishes, (spicey chicken wings, e.g.) were mediocre. Some, like the tsukune, were wonderful...some of the best I've had here.
One dish, though, is an absolute chowhound experience. This is the tori simbei(sp?) [pronounced - tory sim bay]. It is chicken skin, pounded paper-thin, and then deep-fried until it is golden brown.
Just break a piece off of the serving, (which covers a whole plate), and enjoy with some ice-cold beer. It is amazing. It is astonishing to get all of that wonderful chicken flavor from something that is thinner than a "Wheat Thin" cracker. While the actual product is much thinner, the crunch, and following sensory feeling in the mouth, is akin to eating a superb thick-cut potato chip, with chicken substituting any potato flavor.
I knew that this dish is a winner when my only chef friend here in Tokyo walked in with a bunch of visiting chefs from Taipei. After a while, he came over to our table, and asked how many orders of tori simbei we had gone through. When I answered "six", he just chuckled, and said that his guests had just put in an order for their tenth serving.
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