Toriko NY | Happy Bird
yakitori – a Japanese type of skewered chicken
Located in Greenwich Village, Toriko NY serves a carefully arranged upscale yakitori multicourse omakase menu, one that is full of surprises. Yakitori, grilled skewered chicken and its parts are popular and typical izakaya food that is often paired with beer, but the original Toriko that opened in Nogizaka, Japan broke the mold by starting the pairing of the skewers with wine. The restaurant successfully expanded to other areas in Tokyo over the years, to Taiwan, and now to Manhattan, New York, offering the best-curated yakitori and wine pairings in a refined and elegant atmosphere, which definitely calls for an elevated dining experience.
toriko: captive, victim of love, slave to one’s lust
Toriko: happy chicken/bird
Walking by and before entering, you will notice that Toriko’s façade is rather minimal. However, from the use of glass, the color black and wood tones, what shines through and eventually captures guests’ attention is an unpretentious elegance. It keeps you interested and lures you in, holding you captive for the night as you place all your trust into the hands of expert chefs to have them take you on an amazing happy bird adventure.
Upon walking in, you realize the usage of polished wood and stone, and how it all just come together with the interior design to create an enjoyable ambiance. There are shelves and racks of wine bottles throughout the restaurant, perfectly showing the upgrade they were aiming for, bringing yakitori to the next level of fine dining. The restaurant has a bar that seats around five people, a counter that seats 19 guests and wraps around the central open kitchen, and several tables that can host bigger groups of visitors. The open kitchen enhances the dining experience, creating visual and olfactory sensations, where guests can see how their food is being prepared and can smell all the aromas throughout the process.
To start, there are amuse bouche, like the chicken bone soup, edamame mousse, and chicken pâté. The chicken bone soup is heartwarming, extremely rich in flavors from its bones, and the oil adds an extra layer of taste to the broth but it does not become overwhelming. The edamame mousse is chilled so it was a nice touch after the soup. The uni placed atop gives the mousse an even more creamy and sweet taste. The chicken pâté spread across a crunchy toast and topped with a raisin is the best contrast in texture and perfectly balances the savory of the pâté with the sweetness of the raisin without being too heavy on the palate. The Foie Gras Chawanmushi covered with truffle shavings then washes away all the flavors and takes over every inch of your taste buds as the aromas of the truffles blend seamlessly with every spoonful of the egg custard to do so.
Every part of the chicken is utilized, and each piece is prepared with its own unique method.
Each part of the chicken has its own special texture and flavor. The Sabiyaki (tenderloin), just like the name of its part, is exceptionally tender and juicy. Through the preparation method, experienced chefs are able to lock in the moisture but still keeping the meat soft, so that the moisture and flavors spill out with each bite. There are many other parts of the chicken worth trying and just as delicious, like the Maruhatsu (heart), Dakimi (breast) with yuzu peppers and salt, Momo (thigh) with soy sauce and ginger, and the Sot-l’y-Laisse (chicken oyster). If you want something with a more natural crunch and not as soft to its texture, the Maruhatsu, Sunagimo (gizzard), and Yagen (soft bone) are all good options. The soy sauce and ginger bring out a slight sweetness to the tender chicken thigh meat.
Besides chicken skewers, there are also vegetable skewers like okra covered with bonito flakes, and cherry tomatoes. There are the Tsukune, chicken meatballs, along with a piece of grilled cheese, and a piece of A5 Wagyu Beef topped with wasabi. To end the course before dessert, there is an option of either a Toriko Shio Ramen or the Oyakodon (Chicken & Egg Rice Bowl). They both come with an amazingly rich broth, to completely enwrap all remaining flavors from throughout the meal and make last longer.
For those guests who are into wine, each yakitori can be served to you with the best wine pairing so that each bite presents its best forward. They have an extensive global wine list that has been curated by the top sommelier to specifically pair best with chicken, usually more of a lighter wine.
There are several options for dessert but the peach compound with yogurt foam on top and soba on the bottom is definitely a good one. It tasted like a pannacotta dessert but not too filling or heavy because of the peach compound and yogurt foam balance and complement it really well. To really finish it all off, a house-made Hojicha tea is served, soothing and calming way to end the dinner.
“Toriko NY is our first location in the US and our mission is to offer authentic Yakitori with uncompromising craftsmanship and quality, straight from Japan to New York.”
Dining at Toriko turns you into a willing captive, losing the rights to anything other than high-quality chicken but eventually gaining freedom and happiness as a Toriko, and falling and loving every second of the adventurous experience.