Tori Shin, NYC 4 (Select Counter)
March 28, 2017
I have been to Tori Shin in four different areas. The first, in 2012, was the old location at 1st Avenue and 65th Street. Next we sat at the main counter at the new and current location at 53rd Street and 9th Avenue. Then four of us had a private room on the mezzanine. On March 8, 2017, Blair and I had dinner at the “Select Counter,” a special room with its own grill and eight-seat counter curtained off near the entrance.
We were seated at the left end of the counter, where we could look down the Select kitchen with its two chefs.
The proposed yakitori skewers were shown to us. We were asked if we like organ meats and we said that we did.
(The wagyu beef slab and the crab claw in the lower right were a choice; or one could have both at a supplement.)
We ordered a bottle of Nanbu bijin Sake.
The sake list says: “A very elegant aroma and fresh floral-like flavored Daiginjo sake from Iwate Prefecture.” This was eventually followed by a bottle of Kubota Manju: “a refined aroma and elegant flavor.”
The first dish was
Baby octopus and taro root. Kinome leaf.
This started our meal with an appropriately very Japanese dish. Good earthy flavors.
Tai (Sea bream) with yuzu and ponzu sauce
These were elegant, but subtle. One had to be very gentle sparking them up with the yuzu and ponzu so as not to hide their flavors.
Sake steamed clam from Long Island
The clam meat was very chewy, with a strong fresh clam flavor. (Probably cherrystone.) We were given a small spoon for the juices in the clamshell.
Grilled bamboo shoots and firefly squid on daikon radish purée.
This is the right time of year for tender, good bamboo shoots. Their grilling was just right. This combination was delicious.
Chef Akihiko Urashi got out his fan, preparing to heat up the Binchotan charcoal for searing the upcoming yakitori skewers.
A bowl of Grated daikon with quail egg to cleanse the palate between skewers was put on the counter and left there.
Inner chicken thigh.
Inner Neck Meat
Cartilaginous and good.
Not as seared as the other cuts.
Whole chicken heart.
They had been marinated in soy sauce. They were meaty and a little chewy, but juicy and flavorful.
Chicken tenderloin rare with fresh wasabi
This barely cooked breast meat did not have as much character as the other cuts. It was a good base for the delicious, freshly-grated wasabi root.
Chicken main artery (aorta)
Another unusual cut with a nice, distinct flavor.
There was sake and butter on it, which added a different flavor than we had with the meat based dishes.
Kumamodo prefecture waygu beef. Potatoes and fresh wasabi.
Real wagyu, fatty and tender with an elegant beefy flavor. The simple garnishes were just right.
Chicken knee gristle
We ordered this separately at a small supplement. It did not disappoint.
Chicken ham with cucumber and kiwi relish. Myoga.
This was a surprise because it was so different in character, but that was just what was needed as there is a certain sameness to yakitori, even with a variety of cuts. The flower of Japanese ginger sparked up the otherwise unassertive ingredients.
Chicken oyster (Sot-l’y-laisse)
The oyster comes from the back of the chicken near the thigh. It is dark meat and is very juicy and tender. The skin wrapped around it was nicely charred.
Chicken thigh and duck breast sausage with chicken egg yolk in soy for dipping.
The fatty duck meat wrapped around the ground chicken thigh meat gives an opportunity for a serious char, but I think that they under-grilled it this evening.
Blair’s finishing rice dish was
Chicken thigh and rice with egg and a raw egg with sliced nori and mitsuba leaf. Blair wrote “A great dish. Juicy chicken, clean rice flavor, and richness added by the egg. I can see this as Japanese comfort food. Very satisfying.”
This ramen variation included half a chicken egg; a quail egg poached in soy; a fried pork cutlet; noodles and chopped scallions. They were all to be dipped in the bowl of hot broth. Nice, with a variety of textures and flavors.
Blair’s dessert was
Green tea ice cream
Well executed and with a strong tea flavor.
My dessert was
Shiso leaf sorbet
Nice, with a stronger flavor than you might think.
As we were finishing up our sake, we noticed the chef preparing a large green by washing it repeatedly. When we asked what it was, he said a name we couldn’t remember and cut us three pieces. It was intensely salty and a tad fermented.
The pace was perfect; the quiet ambiance and personal service excellent. Our chef’s accent was difficult to understand at times but he was patient with us and described dishes multiple times in different ways if we asked.
To see all our meals at Tori Shin click here.