...an expat libertine with a penchant for sparkly dining partners, jazz bars and izakaya.
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Entries in Chicken (22)


Torimasa, Minami Aoyama  鳥政、南青山

Torimasa joins our little pantheon of yakitori-ya, coming in at the “high-end” if that’s appropriate for yakitori. Actually, I’ve only done lunch there, which was excellent, although I have it on good authority that evening meals are also of a superior quality.

Tucked away on a narrow side street off Aoyama Dōri, not far from Omotesando crossing, a block or two before Franc Franc, Torimasa is a small yakitori-ya, that’s been in business for three decades.

Its popular, so queuing at lunchtime is not unknown. Once inside, the place seats about two dozen – at a push – with counter, table and tatami seating available.

The atmosphere is pleasant, although not exactly lively, and the interior simple, clean and nicely “shibui.” It’s also possible to spot the occasional TV/ movie celeb’ lunching there, too.

Taking a counter seat is recommended, from where you can admire the glass case stuffed with waiting-to-be-grilled yakitori. Each skewer of which is excellent; fresh, huge, tender, juicy and (most importantly) utterly delicious, the speciality of the house being succulent Nagaoya cochin chicken, generous portions and a nicely balanced tare sauce. 

The master of the house, a portly gent usually to be found perched at the counter of a lunchtime, is friendly and has enough English to make non-Japanese speaking guests feels welcome, and even provide a comparative analysis of British and West German ladies-of-the-night during the 1970s. The master also wistfully explained that he’d had to take skewers of foie gras off the menu, as suppliers simply can’t source the stuff large enough anymore.

The lunchtime menu consists of two sets (donburi and rāmen) and the teishoku, all for ¥1,300.

The donburi set is more than most can manage, being comprised of a gargantuan bowl of rice toped with four or five skewers of chunky, tender chicken morsels (the liver being particularly good), pickles and soup. The rāmen set provides a full bowl of noodles in broth, a mini version of the aforementioned donburi and pickles, too. Finally, the teishoku offers soup, rice pickles and the same yakitori skewers that adorn the donburi.

Dinners come in full- or half-set courses, both of which I’m eager to try.

This is yakitori at its best – perhaps even better than that at Kushiwakamaru (although with a less expansive menu), although far less friendly on the purse than Katoriya.





Toyoda, Midorigaoka  豊田、緑が丘

@izakayasanpo had been reminding me, intermittently, to check out Toyada for at least a couple of years before we finally got around to a visit. It was worth the wait.

Just a short walk from Jiyugaoka station, on the “green road” just before you reach Yamada Denki’s Labi store, this izakaya is all about chicken.

A family business – the Toyodas run the show, unsurprisingly – this small establishment is best booked in advance as it soon fills up, although you’ll need to be arriving between 5:30-6pm, or else it’s first-come first-served.

Service is good and the décor is simple; clean, polished wood and stainless steel kitchen – functional not stylish.

The menu is limited. Sit down, order drinks – beer or average nihonshu in cute little one-serving bottles – and then the “course.” You’ll be served a meal of succulent, flavoursome chicken deep-fried so expertly that you can eat it bones and all. Really, not a splinter need be left on your plate, and it tastes great.

The meal starts with tamanegi, a simple bowl of onion “salad,” followed by almost crunchy, fibrous chicken sunagimo (stomach), which was actually, despite my tendency to shun offal, delicious and not at all unpleasant in terms of texture/ mouth-feel.

In due course – nothing is rushed here – the extremely well-sized teba (wing) and momo (thigh) are served. This is the fun part. The skin is so crispy and delicious, the bones incredibly soft and, well, edible, and the flesh succulent and moist. Enough said.

This course-meal can be supplemented with pickled cucumber – if you arrive early you can get the “kyu” that have had a few days to mellow, or the less popular “shin,” which being freshly made are not yet at their best. The onigiri are best avoided (they let the place down to be honest), and the chicken broth that rounds off the meal is tasty.

For all its simplicity, this is definitely a “get thee hence” establishment.





Daisuki Nippon, Naka-Itabashi  だいすき日本、中板橋

After being turned away from the the local kaitenzushi place as it was full, and then taking a wrong turn and missing the raman shop, my dining partner and I almost ambled passed Daisuki Nippon (no points for the name) without noticing it. 

The fresh, spicy-sweet aroma caught our attention. Not much to look at from the outside save, perhaps, that kind of bare bones, “it might not be much but we love it” appearance, upon peering through the door the packed tables promised a decent Nepalese lunch. 

Clean, simple and cheerful, the tables were all covered in clear plastic, beneath which hand written notes and messages from visiting diners were carefully arranged. Turns out people have visited from Okinawa to Hokkaido. Again, this promised great things and further reading revealed that many had popped in due to a clearly successful - and far reaching - Twitter campaign.

The master of the house, a muscular, mild mannered looking gent named Bikasu, attended to our needs, proffering a menu outlining the lunch sets for the day as well as evening options and a la carte offerings. 

I did the Double Curry Naan, while my dining partner had the Double Curry Rice with Tandoori Chicken. Both were enjoyable and value for money, coming in at under ¥800 a piece. 

Although no at large as some, the naan was light and fluffy and not at all oily. The two small bowls of curry fine, but hardly divine. The chicken curry was a little too light tasting and the morsels of chicken small. The keema was the star of the show - less gritty feeling than some and flavoursome, the minced meat not overpowering the flavour of curry itself. All in all, these were curries cooked for Japanese taste buds. The less said about the salad the better. 

Decent enough for lunch, and probably worth a look for dinner while the 7-8 course meal for ¥2,000 coupon (available on Daisuki Nippon’s website) is in force, but not even close to usurping Manakamana’s Tobu-Tojo Line Napalese curry crown. 



Daisuki Nippon  

(No Facebook like button as the code is always crap and never works properly.)



Toritetsu, Tokiwadai  とり鉄、常盤台

For some reason I’d got it into my head that Toritetsu was a local affair. Actually it’s a sprawling chain covering much of the archipelago. It seems somehow less formulaic than many of the better known, much reviled chains that spring to mind. 

On the night my dining partner and I ventured in, it was packed. “Must be good,” said I. Turns out that the crowd had gathered to take advantage of an “everything for ¥100 night,” the menu’s specials included.  

Truth be told, Toritestu does a lot of “special” nights. There’s ladies’ night, men’s night, pensioners’ night, Thursday night, Friday night, etc. You get the picture. 

Bubbly staff and a cozy atmosphere went a long way to making the evening an enjoyable one, despite the length of time between orders placed and orders served... 

The food - for the most part yakitori standards - isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s not going to put you off the stuff either. I should know. After a month or so of almost nothing but yakitori I should be sick of the stuff. 

The otoshi, a very soft, creamy dollop of tofu, was quite tasty but almost impossible to eat with chopsticks. On the verge of punching someone after five minutes with it, spoons seemed in order.  

Many of the skewered morsels were on the teeny side. The ginko nuts especially so. The liver was tender, but pretty tasteless, too.

As far as budget yakitori goes, the sasami - plum and wasabi-topped - wasn’t bad. The tsukune was reasonable, and the slices of raw chicken flesh safe but a little bland. 

Better than Watami, not a patch on Kappa-chan.







Kushiyaki Bar Char-Co, Tokiwadai  常盤台

This pleasing little kushiyaki/ yakitori joint has only been in business for a few months, so it’s difficult to to see what lies in store for it and the young gentlemen running the place. It, and they, deserve to do well if for nothing more than opening one of the better looking, more considered establishments in this neighbourhood. 

Simple decor, mostly in a nice black-grey charcoal theme (kind of blackboard-like), and the warm, welcoming counter around the open kitchen provide, in combination with some energetic service, a relaxing setting. The young chef, in combination with his small charcoal brazier and mountain of refrigerated, skewered morsels, provides simple yakitori with some interesting kushi and other dishes available thrown into the mix for good measure.  

Not the best price to volume ratio, for either the food or drinks, but not bad. The beer list deserves mention, as Guinness and Hoegaarden, among others, are rarely seen in this neck of the woods.

The standout dishes were undoubtedly the sanma no hone sembei and the sanma shiso maki with leek, both of which were delicious. The Halloween parfait proved to be popular, too.

Sanma no hone sembei.

Chicken liver with tare sauce, and chicken and leek.

Bacon wrapped tomato. 

Tsukune and hearts.

Bacon wrapped cheese.

Sanma shiso maki 

Spicy celery. 

Halloween parfait.

One of the go to places at this station.




Kappa-chan, Ebisu  かっぱちゃん、恵比寿

After a week of Kushiwakamaru overkill, a visit to Ebisu Yokocho’s Kappa-chan came as a welcome change while offering the opportunity to try someone else’s yakitori

On the west side of Ebisu station, next to Seven-Eleven, Ebisu Yokocho remains popular after opening its doors to the public 3-4 years ago. Essentially just an alley - running through the ground floor of an old apartment building - lined with small, yatai-like stalls serving various staples such as yakiniku, oden, okonomiyaki, and yakitori, with a wine bar thrown in for good measure. 

Always busy, the atmosphere is in the faux-Showa vein, with hanging lanterns, Hoppy posters and beer crate-seating aplenty. Kappa-chan is the first establishment on the right as you come though the entrance. Not spacious, but we still managed a party of five without any discomfort. 

The food was pretty good. Not Kushiwaka good, but still delicious - the cherry tomatoes surprisingly so. Perhaps a little dainty, though.

The sasami topped with wasabi was lethal. We like wasabi, but all but one of our party nearly had a funny turn after experiencing it here. My favourite of the night was the sasami with yuzu-kosho (citrus and pepper). 

Worthy of a second visit. 







Noroshi, Higashi 狼煙、東

Some dining venues are fun, even when the food isn’t up to much. Noroshi, a cheap and cheerful yakitori joint halfway between Shibuya and Ebisu just off Meiji Dori (near the bicycle shop), is just such a place.

Simple interior, vinyl (for the unaware – visit a museum or antique shop) spinning either reggae or Latino tunes, cheap beer and highballs, friendly, somewhat brusque, service and minuscule yakitori standards from ¥120.

Easy to find better yakitori elsewhere, but the atmosphere works, especially if you take a beer-crate table outside.


Ostumami 2.

Chicken liver – little dry, and a little little.

Chicken – on a stick.

Cheese stuffed mushrooms.

Potato salad – infused with curry powder. Tasty, but way too small.

Chicken and leak. 

Baby corn and more liver. 

Tsukune with tare sauce.

Sasami topped with plum sauce and nori. 

French fries – better than expected.

Noroshi claims to be “cheap, delicious and good to your body.” They get the first part right.