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!

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


Kung Food Panda

This is why you need to make a return trip with me when I go back again next week! :)

We're def gonna do multiple orders of the tomatoes and the egg/ikura dish.


Good point, I don't know of any other oden places. Though I will admit, I haven't really looked.

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