Torihei, a yakitori-ya, is the dream of chef-owner Masataka Hirai. He learned his craft from his mother, a yakitori chef in Tokyo. Hirai came to the States with his number two chef, Masakazu Sasaki, a specialist in oden, a type of Japanese stew with a dashi broth. Thus, we have Torihei: a place for masterful versions of two totally distinct Japanese specialties.
Torihei’s yakitori—chicken skewers—are the work of a “true yakitori grill master,” says exilekiss. The yakitori is mostly prepared shio, a salt-based style that’s moist and pure in taste, with a pleasing texture. Torihei offers the full yakitori assortment, with skewers of breast, thigh, liver, wing, and every other tidbit of chicken you could imagine.
The house specialty is jikasei tsukune, ground chicken mixed with shiso leaf and other spices and roasted over proper bincho-tan charcoal. Most tsukune is dry or mealy, explains exilekiss, but Hirai’s is “juicy, moist, and bursting with flavor! Light notes of shiso and pepper and other spices combine with a fresh, pure chicken taste.”
The other specialty of the house is Kyoto-style oden, a variety of small items stewed together. At Torihei, you get them item by item, alongside some delicious soup. Daikon topped with dried bonito shavings is “clean and pure, tender, completely permeated with the made-from-scratch dashi broth,” says exilekiss. “The dashi broth was truly a thing of beauty: completely focused and pure, with notes of konbu (kelp), katsuobushi (dried bonito), and special shoyu (soy sauce) worked in harmony to bring about a broth that was so soothing and soul-warming that all I could do was smile.”
Other must-orders: the hanjyuku tamago, a creamy flash-boiled chicken egg yolk filled with cod roe; the roasted fatty pork; and the stewed beef tendon.
“Torihei is a stunning development in the L.A. landscape: One restaurant that houses *2* master chefs and 2 styles of cooking that rise to the top of the list in their respective areas,” says exilekiss.
Torihei [South Bay]
1757 W. Carson Street #A, Torrance