Friday, April 13, 2007

There's No Place Like Home (Yakitori Totto)

Finding good, authentic Japanese food, even here in NY isn't the easiest thing in the world. That's one of the reasons I was so bummed when Honmura An closed. And why I was only cautiously optimistic when M suggested that we go out for a casual dinner to Yakitori Totto (55th between Broadway and 8th). M is pretty good with choosing restaurants so I figured we couldn't go too wrong. But I wouldn't even have dared hope that it would be as good as it was.
My first view was pretty encouraging. This place could pretty much have been plunked right out of Tokyo. The menu made me even happier - there were some choices that really excited me. We decided to order as a table. Before we even got to the stuff on sticks, M suggested (from her previous visits) the gyoza and the homemade tofu.

The tofu came out first. But not to eat. Patience! It was a soy liquid in this very cute little cooker. Very cool.

But not sufficient, I was hungry. I was ready for food. Luckily the gyoza came very quickly (that's the gyoza on the right - half of them anyway, I had to try one before I could pause to take the photo).

And even more luckily, they were absolutely delicious. These were some of the best gyoza ever. Really! They were juicy and flavorful. I could have eaten thousands (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration), though we only had 6 on the plate - which was still 2 each. (We ordered a second plate, so technically I ate 4.5 (N couldn't finish her last one and so M and I split it)).

Finally, the sticks started coming. We ordered tskune (chicken meatballs), yakitori (barbequed chicken), pork and scallions, little green peppers, grilled garlic and asparagus wrapped in bacon. I think the tskune, pork, peppers and asparagus were my favorites.

After all of those, I was starting to feel more full - and it was finally time for the tofu. Now, if you've never had fresh tofu, you don't know what you're missing. At the waitress' suggestion, we added just a bit of salt and dug in. It was light and smooth - and just good.

We decided to end the main part of our meal with ocha zuke, which is basically just the Japanese version of a savory rice pudding. We were sharing and got the salmon one. I was so-so 0n it, but would like to try the plum one. I will say though that the presentation was amazing (and the pickle ws some of the best I had ever had).

I'm not normally a huge fan of Japanese desserts. I'm okay with them, but it's not my first choice. M made a case for the Frozen Banana (okay, not really a case - she just said she was ordering it and wanted the whole thing and we should do what we wanted). I figured that was a pretty good recommendation and so I ordered one too. I got a bowl of coconut milk with tapioca pearls, frozen ripe bananas and a little mint. It was actually a bit more like a Thai dessert. And I love Thai desserts. It was awesome!! I was really glad that I had the whole thing - and almost reached over and finished N's when she couldn't, but my full stomach actually physically preveneted me (probably for the best).

I can't wait to go back!

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