Tori Shin, NYC 2

September 8, 2015

We were surprised four years ago when Tori Shin, a small yakitori restaurant, received a Michelin star. We went and enjoyed it a lot. In July 2015, with its star intact, Tori Shin moved from 1st Avenue near 65th Street to 53rd Street near 9th Avenue. Linda and I went for dinner on August 10, 2015.

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The new facility is quite different from the old, picturesque one; it is modern and sleek with a custom-designed kitchen. The non-grilled dishes are prepared in the back of the kitchen, away from the grills. Behind the chef in the top photo is a stove top where he cooks. At the counter in front of him another chef does slicing, cutting, and organizing many parts of the other dishes. Ingredients for them were in the refrigerated cabinets underneath. Dishwashing and early prep work are done downstairs.
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There were three grilling chefs. Strong ventilating fans by the charcoal burners suck the smoke and heat out and keep the coals hot so the grilling chefs no longer have to fan them. Ingredients for grilling are displayed in bowls and trays or in refrigerated glass cabinets.
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We were seated at the counter with a good view of the chefs at work.

The menu offers à la carte, 10 Skewers Set (7 Meats and 3 Vegetables) or, our choice, Chef’s Omakase, which combines eight skewers with other prepared dishes. We ordered a bottle of Nanbubijin Daiginjo sake.
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The starter was a bowl of mild, fresh cucumber and turnip pickles. They were a refreshing start.
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A bowl of grated daikon with soy sauce was brought and left on the counter for us to use as a garnish with any dish.
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The appetizer plate included:
chicken thighs with a decorated and vinegared slice of daikon;
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two tofu packages with wasabi dabs and a shiso leaf;
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a spring roll garnished with delicious grilled corn kernels.
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Our first skewer was chicken wings. They had a very good char on the outside, but were still tender inside from having been jammed together on the skewer during grilling.
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The next yakitori skewer was chicken breast meat with plum and shiso which added good, distinct flavors to the delicate meat.
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Mushrooms: there were shiitakes and a meatier mushroom, which you can see grilling in the top photo. (Behind them is a Japanese eggplant.) The mushrooms were good, having picked up some appropriate woodsy flavor from the charcoal.
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Soy marinated chicken hearts: These also picked up a nice char from the grilling. They were still a bit chewy, but had a good, substantial flavor.
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Tofu with crab and asparagus. An intermezzo between the skewers was welcome. This was nice.
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Grilled red and yellow sweet peppers.
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In the top photo you can see the peppers being grilled. You can also see edamame, avocado and duck. The Japanese couple sitting next to us had ordered the 10 skewer menu. They received some very attractive skewers we did not get. Avocado was one of them; another was corn on the cob, which chars nicely. I do not know who got the edamame.

Duck was rolled around asparagus spears. The fattiness of the duck let it take on a delicious char.
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A specialty of Tori Shin is a chopped chicken meatball wrapped in duck skin. The egg yolk is to be mixed in the soy sauce for dipping. This was rich and good, to be eaten in small bites.
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There was a choice of four finishing rice courses. We selected the Oyako Don, which has  chicken, egg and nori strips over rice.
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The Oyako Don is served with a cup of chicken broth.
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Dessert was a scoop of very good shiso sorbet.
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This was the view as I left back into the slightly sunken dining area. There is an outside terrace area beyond the windows in the back, but it was not in use yet.
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There were flowers in the entry area, congratulating the restaurant on its move to new quarters.
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There is a small bar in front. I guess it could be useful if people have to wait for their seats.
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I thought that the quality of the yakitori was improved over our meal three years ago. I attribute this to better charcoal burners which give a better char and smokiness. I think that the next time we will order the 10 Skewer Menu. The service was attentive. The noise level is low as there is no music, but I still found it hard to understand our server. The pace is quite fast. I preferred the somewhat tattered, relaxed ambiance of the old place.

To see our meal at Tori Shin three years ago click here.  

To see an interesting article on Tori Shin from a year ago click here.


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