Showing posts with label yakitori. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yakitori. Show all posts

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robataya: Low Key Westside Robata & Yakitori

A lot has been happening in the West LA dining scene since I graduated from UCLA. Returning to Sawtelle a year ago, I noticed at least three new spots. One of these was Robata-ya located next to Chabuya. At the time, robata was made somewhat popular by the Katsuya in Brentwood, so we were eager to try this more affordable option.

The menu was pretty extensive. From traditional cold appetizers like the cucumber sunomono - always a refreshing starter when not overdressed - Robataya's version was nice and light with a big enough portion to share.
I was also enticed by the fancier options like the truffle chawan mushi.
The truffles weren't that fragrant and didn't add much to the dish at all, but the chawan mushi itself was really quite good. Next time I'd rather have the chawan mushi and not pay a premium for the truffles.

Seared foie gras might have been the most affordable at only $12.
Not the best quality and a little stringy, but for $12 what more can you ask for? If you can pay a bit more, Orris next door has quite a delicious version.

An order of corn from the robata bar was a whopping plate of six pieces of grilled corn.
Way too much for 2 people to share, even if they are as much of a corn lover as we are.

It was pretty exciting to see options like bonchiri (chicken tail) and seseri (chicken neck) on the menu at Robataya. I fell in love with seseri at Yakitori Totto in New York. The seseri here is not as good as it was fattier, but as decent an option as you can find for seseri in Los Angeles: crispy skin, tender and juicy meat.
When you see chicken tail, you should think chicken butt instead.
In other words, fatty.

They had a nice, although small, rotating dessert menu and the flourless chocolate cake ended the night on a high note.

All in all, not a bad meal. Everything was quite enjoyable and very much comparable to Yakitoriya down the street but with more options. Oh, and no minimum skewer order here either! Nothing mind-blowing (unlike Yakitori Totto); the most memorable dish was actually the flourless chocolate cake, but it's still a good everyday place.

Robata Ya
2004 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 481-1418
Robata Ya on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kyoto-style Oden and Yakitori at Torihei

I'm glad Kung Food Panda dragged me to Torihei. After Bincho and a quick live-uni-stop at Quality Seafood, the five of us went off to Torihei for some yakitori and Kyoto-style oden.

Torihei does not take reservation and we waited for about 15 minutes before getting seated.The interior of Torihei is actually pretty stylish - unlike the usual yakitori places you find in LA.

Kung Food Panda had studied Torihei's menu from Exile Kiss' and inomthings' posts, so we pretty much knew what we wanted to order.

Oden is a classic Japanese winter dish consisting of various ingredients (usually daikon, boiled eggs, fish cake, and konjac) cooked in dashi broth.

We started with some daikon/White radish ($1.95)
This is the first part where the sharing gets hard ... imagine cutting this with your disposable chopsticks! We managed anyway, and this was a good dish to start off with - like an introductory oden dish. The radish was sweet and the dashi broth was nice and light.

Fuwa-Fuwa (soft) chicken ball ($2.80)
The soft chicken balls was a welcome change in terms of dividing the dish up to five servings. Soft and moist, this was another simple but satisfying dish.

"Hanpen" fish cake ($1.95)
A light and delicate fish cake. This can even be called "fluffy" as fair as fish cakes go. It did not have an overpowering fish flavor but definitely still have a nice flavor to it. Kyoto-style oden is supposed to be lighter and more delicate, and I thought that this was a nice representative of it.

"Konjac" yam cake ($1.95)
If you happen to be sharing with a few people, like we were, and are about to try cutting this thing with your wooden, disposable chopsticks: be warned. Konjac does not yield easily under flimsy chopsticks. I think I splashed dashi broth on everyone attempting to do so.

The konjac I thought was okay and was nothing special.

Next up was perhaps my favorite dish of the night: Whole tomato ($2.80)
Amazing. Just amazing! The whole tomato was so sweet and juicy and the broth was topped with mashed potatoes and soy milk, giving it the creamy taste and texture. The best part, though, was drinking the broth afterwards, with some of the tomato juices seeping into the broth after we dug into it, making the creamy dashi broth sweeter. A definite must-try.

Another highlight of the night: Half raw egg w/ cod roe ($1.95)
The egg was flash boiled, and the half-raw yolk inside was this moist goodness. To top it all off with the flavors of the cod roe ... this was a big hit with everyone at the table. At the end the broth was enhanced with some yolk and cod roe that had fallen into the broth as we were trying to divy up the egg. Do drink the broth! That end product was phenomenal, I wouldn't mind not sharing ...

Torihei also offers some izakaya-style dishes. This time we only ordered the Fried Jidori Chicken ($6.95)
The fried chicken was tender and flavorful, but since we just came out of Bincho, we agreed that Bincho's fried chicken was better.

Done with the oden and side dishes, we moved on to the yakitori.
Chicken heart ($1.80 each)
They were out of their special heart yakitori, so we ended up with the regular heart. These were still very good, with a very chewy and flavorful taste of the heart muscles.

Chicken liver ($1.80 each)
I am typically not a big fan of chicken liver because of the offal-taste (though I totally eat chicken liver mousse and foie gras and pate ...), but here the livers are flavorful and does not have that pungent taste. Also, the sweet teriyaki sauce really adds a lot of flavor while also masking much of that offal taste, making this dish very easy even for "beginners" to eat.

For the dessert, I saw annin tofu on the menu, which I thoroughly enjoyed during my meal at Yakitori Totto in NYC, so naturally I ordered it here too.
Blanc-manger aux amandes "Annin tofu" ($4.50)
The almond tofu pudding is always a lighter way to end the meal and I always enjoy it. The annin tofu here is not as good (not as smooth and creamy) as the one at Totto, but still pretty nice and lightly sweet.

The other dessert we ordered because it sounded quite interesting: Baked cheese cake with blueberry sauce ($3.95)
The texture was denser compared to most cheesecakes I've had - since this one is baked? A rich and dense cake that for me did require the blueberry sauce to cut all that richness.

I had been craving their whole tomato and half-raw egg oden dish ever since we went here, and I just can't wait to go back. Where else can you get Kyoto-style oden, especially one that's this good, in LA? Their yakitori was also much better than their LA counterparts. If you're in the area, or don't mind making the drive to South Bay, there's no reason not to go to Torihei!

Torihei
1757 W. Carson Street, #A
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 781-9407
Torihei on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 5, 2008

NYC: Loving Chicken Parts at Yakitori Totto

I've been wanting to go to Yakitori Totto for ... 2 years now? A friend of mine told me of a Japanese place in NYC that was supposed to change my life, and he gave me the address. Not the name though ... and it turns out there's a different restaurant on the first floor at the same address and I ended up there, 2 years ago ... (it was good - a kaiseki restaurant).

This year I had to go. With a week full of restaurant reservations though the only time I could go was my last night, right before my 8:30PM flight. Totto opens at 5:30 PM but having nothing else to do/buy (post-shopping) I walked there at 5:00. They wouldn't let us in but while we were debating whether to wander around and come back or not the line started to form ... by 5:20PM the stairway was full of people waiting in line. Good thing I didn't leave!

The yakitoris were about $3.50 a piece and there was a minimum order of I-can't-remember-how-much-bcs-it-didn't-matter. At least the min order can include non-yakitori items, unlike certain LA yakitori places!

My dinner started off with what ended up being my favorite - seseri (chicken neck)
Great flavor and texture - they are bits of chicken neck wrapped around the skewer, chewier and firmer than usual meat. Maybe even a wee bit cartilagenous, but not much. Loved it, loved it.

Next we had the chicken oyster (this is from the backbone near the thigh)
This was also very good. Delicious, tender little things. Although I was still in heaven from my chicken neck ... mmmm.

I also had some chicken thigh with scallions but apparently I didn't take a photo of it :( If you don't normally eat prawn/shrimps with their shells on this will prove to be a bit of a hassle to eat since grilling it makes the shell stick to the meat and hard to remove. I usually try to just eat them tho. The yummy seasoning is all on the shell's surface anyway :P

We also had some tamago, made with free range Jidori chicken eggs.
Amazing. One of the best I've ever had - very flavorful eggs This wasn' t exactly to my taste. It was crisp but had the stickiness that didn't really agree with me.

We also had some miso eggplant.
Good. Pretty standard grilled eggplant with miso. The chicken parts are definitely the highlights at this place, so get the other stuff for fillers only.

We also tried their daiginjyo tofu.
The tofu was steaming in front of us for a while. The server comes and serves it to you when he/she thinks it's ready. Soft, smooth tofu and nothing else. Very simple and delicious.

For dessert we ordered the yawaraka annin tofu ("creamy apricot kernel tofu")
Compared to your usual "tofu" this has a stickier texture - maybe even more like a pudding. Just the right amount of sweetness and quite refreshing, I really liked this dessert!

I absolutely loved Totto. It's the best yakitori I've ever had (although I never got to try Bincho before they closed the yakitori part down - but I highly doubt it can beat Totto). I plan to come back and try the rest of the menu!

Yakitori Totto
251 W. 55th St (btw 8th and Broadway)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 245-4555
http://www.torysnyc.com/totto.htm

Yakitori Totto on Urbanspoon
Yakitori Totto in New York
See all my NYC posts here.

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