karaage

Torisho, Tokyo

Sure, yakitori tend to get all the buzz in Japan these days, but when it comes to chicken dishes, there are myriad Japanese preparations one can enjoy if you know where to look. And one such place you should be looking is at Torisho in Tokyo…

Torisho is a small restaurant not far from Roppongi that those “in the know” consider one of the city’s best palaces of poultry. Yes, they have yakitori, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg here. It’s cozy, it’s quiet, you usually don’t need a reservations, and their food is as good as it gets. They get their chickens daily from a few specific farms around Japan and only serve limited amounts of a certain number of their most popular dishes, so while they are open late, it’s best to get to Torisho early if you want to feast on their freshest fowl!

Here’s a look…

There’s always a small amuse bouche when you sit down, this night it was fried eggplant and poached chicken breast with umeboshi plum sauce…

One of Torisho’s house specialties, grilled white liver skewers…

Their most popular dish, melt-in-your-mouth foie gras-like chncks of inner chicken goodness painted with a secret sweet glaze…

Their deep-fried chicken karaage, where unlike other standard Japanese preparations, they cut the thigh meat into strips, spice it before frying, and serve with a house-blend curry powder…

Grilled breast meat covered in melted Hokkaido cheese and grated parmesan…

Another of their house specialties, and not for the faint of heart, Torisho’s chicken sashimi platter…

This particular platter is all breast meat, composed of five separate cuts in order to showcase the different tastes and textures of the chicken’s largest part…

To ensure maximum freshness, Torisho uses asabiki (”morning cut”) chickens, which are freshly killed at the crack of dawn in the southern state of Kagoshima then trucked directly to the restaurant before they open each and every day…

You even get a little of the chicken skin, oh so lightly grilled…

Much like you see with seafood sashimi, the chef here makes a succulent soy sauce that’s mixed with raw chicken liver. It’s amazing and if you don’t finish it, keep it to use on your other dishes!

A grilled rice ball and Torisho’s famous chicken soup; literally one of the best chicken soups you will eat anywhere on the planet! Trust me.

The fact that the staff here are all Star Wars fans only adds to my love of Torisho…

Jidori yuuke, which is a type of tartare made from chicken…

With raw thigh meat, a raw egg, chopped scallion and the interesting inclusion of grilled cashews for crunch…

Grilled fava beans, which were in season…

We needed some sort of vegetable… :)

Jidori kazeboshi, which is smoked chicken “jerky”…

Made in-house by hanging strips of chicken from the ceiling…

Then letting the smoke from their binchotan charcoal grill works its magic…

And the coup de grace, Torisho’s renowed oyako donburi

Grilled chicken and fresh eggs, cooked into a loose omelet, served over a bowl of rice… with the skin left on the chicken, which you rarely see, this is one of the best preparations you will find anywhere in Tokyo!

And a closer of chicken soup as it’s just so damn good…

The term “farm to table” gets thrown around so much these days that its lost a lot of meaning, but here at Tokyo’s Torisho, every chicken dish lives up to that label.

TORISHO

Oyama Building B1

3-1-19 Nishi Azabu

Minato-ku, Tokyo

106-0031

Japan

+81-3-5771-4194

Tonkatsu Wako, Shanghai

Shanghai has a huge population on Japanese expats, and many fine Japanese restaurants, but sometimes the hardest foods to find are the simplest ones. Like tonkatsu, Japanese fried pork cutlets, which can be a tough dish to get right if you don’t have the proper ingredients, like good pork and panko breadcrumbs, and time-consuming to make at home. But for folks in the know, the “secret” spot for the best fried pork in town is Tonkatsu Wako, a small fry stand tucked away in the basement of the Isetan department store in Jing’An…

Everything here at Wako is battered, breaded and fried to order. So it’s not a quick meal, taking about 15-20 minutes once you’ve paid, but one worth waiting for. Their fried pork cutlet special is my “go to”…

You get a juicy pork cutlet, perfectly fried, with rice, salad and miso soup for $8.50. And their soup is packed with shijimi clams, which was perfect for my week of detoxing yesterday…

Wako also fries up plenty of other cuts of pork, all sorts of chicken parts and plump shrimp, all reasonably priced. I added a side of karaage fried chicken and a cheese-filled pork ball on the side for an extra four dollars…

Wako does have a small four-seat counter you can eat at, but if you choose to get your meal to go, they do include all the sides and condiments, like sauce, spicy mustard and dressing.

Where so many expats find Japanese comfort here!

TONKATSU WAKO

Inside Isetan, B1

1038 Nanjing W Rd.

Jingan, Shanghai

200040

China