Wednesday, May 4, 2022

First Night Out

"So, where are you going for dinner on April 21?" became a common question to ask as we were finally allowed back into restaurants for dinner after a long 3-month ban. For us, the choice was Torisho, the yakitori specialist in Central which opened its door about a year ago but we have never been. 

There's no lack of competitions for the "best yakitori place in town" with a few contenders just around this neighborhood alone (like here and here). The place was understandably booked out for the evening well in advance, just like every other decent place in town I guess, and we booked ours the same day the government announced the dine-in ban was lifted about a month ago. 

I love the picturesque facade, just a few steps away from Wyndham and along the cobble-paved path of Pottinger, which reminded me of the traditional Japanese machiya. Interiors followed the same traditional traits, with natural color tone, a large open kitchen surrounded by the U-shaped counters the lower level and more tables a few steps up. 

The restaurant offered a pretty long a la carte menu with predominantly chicken dishes, most of them various parts grilled on open charcoal fire and served on skewers. Of course there were the usual suspects of Tsukune (chicken meatballs) or Wing or Soft Bones, but there were some rarer parts and even non-chicken skewers. The last 2 pages were a good selection of salad, appetizers, rice and noodles, and desserts.

We began with Potato Salad, the classic of Japanese izakaya. Here the soft-boiled potatoes were mixed well with Japanese mayo and topped with sauteed ground chicken and I loved its texture. The chicken pate was great too - soft and creamy and rich and served with the gently toasted bread slices done on the charcoal fire. The skewer dishes began to arrive just as we were about to finish our appetizers. All of which were nicely done I must say. The engawa, cut from the side of chicken gizzard, was tender with a good bite, smothered in tari sauce while grilling for the slightly sweet flavor. "Kitsune" was something new to us, and it turned out it was chicken meatballs wrapped in tofu skin and seaweed. 

The tebasaki was taken from the mid-joints of the wings and deboned with plenty of skin attached for the sumptuous fatty flavor. I thought the Tsukune was a bit soft and portion a bit stingy, but it was well cooked served with a deep-colored yolk on the side for dipping. Chicken oyster and tamago-yaki were another two I have tried - both were decent too. And to finish, the bowl of oyakodon (chicken and egg rice) served in a large lacquer bowl, and the most intense chicken soup one could find served in a small cup, then it was the lovely bowl of sweet homemade creme caramel pudding.

Felt like forever when we were able to pop a bottle outside of our home so we managed to finish our bottle of sake in no time. The one we picked from their drink menu was on the sweet side but still very balanced. Not the rustic type I often associate with yakitori dishes but more on the smooth and creamy side. We heard mixed comments on this place but happy to report we enjoyed our dinner there and glad we picked the perfect place as our first night out for such a long time. That occasion itself was worth a celebration. 

When? April 21 2022
Where? Yakitori Torisho, Lower Ground Floor, Harilela House, 79 Wyndham Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Kitsune Yakitori
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