My friend Rumi recommended this traditional yakitori restaurant, one of the oldest in Tokyo with over 80 years of mastering the art of grilled skewered chicken. What started out in 1931 as a simple food stall located behind the Kabuki theater, quickly became a favorite of the Kabuki actors and theater crowd which then prompted the owners to make it into a restaurant in 1939. It moved to its’ current Ginza spot in 1958 and has been run by the same family for three generations. Torishige is not the usual elbow-to-elbow, crowded, smoky and noisy yakitori joint (there are other places to experience that) but a simple refined version frequented by locals and concentrating on the grilled chicken and not so much on the ambiance.
On the mid-week evening that we visited Torishige, I was the only female in the whole packed restaurant. We were seated in the middle of the counter, not too close to the grill but close enough for us to watch the chef pay close attention to dozens of skewers laid out on a narrow grill filled with hot coals. We decided to order the Jidori menu (4800 yen – around $45) for 8 sticks with soup and rice. We didn’t have long to wait as the skewers started to be come straight from the smoky grill – aigamo (duck), tebasaki (flat wing tip), aigamo shimeji (brown beech mushroom rolled by sliced duck), tsukune (chicken meatballs) and chunks of jidori (free-range chicken) with leeks – all savoury bites of perfectly char-grilled poultry. The set menu also included the chestnut like-ginnan (ginkgo nuts), asparagus or Shiitake mushrooms (we ordered one of each so we could have both), and kimo (chicken liver) that we asked them to substitute for shishito peppers. By the time the famous curried rice and chicken broth were brought, we were too full to finish either and just and had a taste of each. Another wonderful dinner which explains why Tokyo is on every foodies’ must-go list.
TEL: +81 3 3571 8372
*Open for lunch Mondays to Fridays 11:30 – 14:00
*Dinner Mondays to Fridays 17:00 – 22:00 (Last call 21:15)
*Saturday 16:00 – 21:00 (Last call 20:30)
*Closed Sunday and National holidays