Toritama serves chicken head to toe in a Tokyo setting in the middle of Hong Kong, that makes me happy, what is there not to love?
I have friends who I’ve grown up with, worked together, studied with or shared a common interest / passion. Recently though I have friends who loves to try new places to eat, and even better a specific friend who loves fried chicken. The moment I met my foodie fried chicken loving friend I knew that we would get on and go to loads of places together and try some great things. Since we met just over a year ago we have done just that in both London and Hong Kong. During my last visit to Hong Kong I read about Toritama and I can never say no to fried or grilled chicken in any form, so I called my foodie friend and we immediately made a date to go and try it out.
Toritama is modelled after Tokyo neighbourhood Yakitori joints where they have limited seating around a central counter. Toritama serves up a simple menu using techniques from a master griller who serves more then 28 different parts of the chicken. There has been a foodie trend here in England of head to toe eating, but in Asia they have been doing this successfully for years. Personally, I have been eating offal and weird cuts of meat since I was young, however seeing the different types of meat which Toritama serve on their menu is an education. Even I didn’t know that you could eat half of the things on their playful diagram on the back of their menu or that some of the cuts would taste any good. I feel that in London lots of chefs have tried to take on this head to toe philosophy but really it isn’t truly for the masses. But in my opinion just go into it with an open mind you never know you might like it, I simply think that it is mind over matter.
The menu at Toritama is simple, you can order skewer by skewer or you can have a 7,10,or 12 taster where the chef decides what kind of skewers you get along with soup rice and sides. His choices change daily so it means you are guaranteed a different experience every time you visit, we went for a sampling of 7 skewers. While waiting we cleansed our palette with some raw vegetables which you dip in a yummy miso paste, and slowly mixed our quail yolks into the radish dip in anticipation of our meat skewers while sipping on dry sake. First up off the grill was mini balls of chicken tsukune (cover photo), there were little bits of cartilage mixed into the meatballs, a little different then your average meatball made up of just minced meat which I expected and probably would have preferred but it was full of flavour and utterly juicy.
Other interesting cuts came next the heart which tasted rich a gamey, hen tail which had crispy skin and knee soft bone, which was good but I didn’t like the texture too much.
The more recognisable skewers of chicken thigh with leeks, chicken oyster and mitsuba wrapped with white meat all simply cooked and perfect with sake.
Of course your dinner doesn’t need to simply consist of chicken if you don’t want it to. I mean why wouldn’t you want it to right? But I guess you have to have your 5 a day. Shishito (Japanese green pepper) stacked onto a skewer and grilled which brought out the natural pepper flavour.
We had to order the provolone cheese which came grilled and melted on a skewer, the grilled outside can only be described as the top part of a baked pasta dish. The bit that when you were a kid you would scrape the side of the dish for and steal off the top of other people’s. Imagine that as a lollipop! YUM!
We also ordered a side of sweetcorn, which was grilled and sliced off for you and served in a bowl. It is a shame that it is not served on the cob so you can see the grilled marks but you could still taste the smokey flavour and it went great with the chicken skewers.
However, the best was yet to come, what is the chicken without the egg? The chicken and egg rice bowl is simply that. Yakitori chicken on donburi rice with a runny egg. Perfect for mixing into the rice and sharing with your fried chicken loving friend. I loved the grilled chicken on the rice it gave it a smokey flavour and that little bowl was a great finish to the meal.
I would definitely go back to Toritama next time i’m back in Hong Kong, it is a little nod to Tokyo living away from the hustle and bustle of central. If I am in central and at a loose end for somewhere to grab a bite I will be ordering that chicken and rice donburi all for myself. It isn’t the cheapest yakitori place in Hong Kong but they have some cuts that I haven’t seen before and that rice is definitely to die for, in my opinion worth a visit for sure.
How do you feel about head to toe eating? Have you been to Toritama before? Let me know your experience below.
For more information about Toritama check out their website.