BWW Preview: TORIKO NY in Greenwich Village
Toriko NY is the first U.S. location of a top Japanese yakitori & wine concept just opened in NYC's Greenwich Village. It is from Tokyo Restaurants Factory, the restaurant group behind acclaimed progressive Japanese restaurant, MIFUNE New York, and Michelin-starred sushi omakase counter, sushi AMANE. Both MIFUNE and sushi AMANE were ranked within the top 200 restaurants in North America by OAD (Opinionated About Dining).
Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) are historically a popular snack at Japanese izakayas, often paired with ice-cold beer. Toriko broke the mold when it opened in Nogizaka, Tokyo, in 2011, redefining the three-hundred-year-old cuisine by offering only pedigreed chickens prepared by expert chefs in a refined atmosphere, and featuring an extensive global wine list. The concept was so popular that it expanded to thirteen locations and garnered numerous accolades, including a nod as the #1 restaurant destination in Japan for tourists by Live Japan, and an award for best Yakitori in Tokyo by Yummy Japan.
Deceptively simple, yakitori achieves unexpected heights of flavor when prepared by an expert chef. The grills at Toriko NY will be helmed by Executive Chef Shinji Odahara, a specialist with twenty-eight years of culinary experience, who previously worked at Nadaman in Japan, where he oversaw the company's 50 restaurants. Odahara also serves as the Food Director for the Toriko brand's 12 restaurants in Japan.
Odahara is a skilled butcher and trained hand behind Toriko's custom electric grills, which eliminate the unpleasant flavor that charcoal sometimes imparts, and allow for precision, uniform cooking. Properly grilled yakitori is moist, with a hint of char and varying levels of umami flavor. Odahara and his assistant chefs at Toriko NY season different skewers with alternating varieties of shio (Japanese sea salt), tare (soy-based sauce), and of course fresh ground wasabi. Toriko NY sources the finest organic chicken including Bo Bo Poultry.
The interior, designed by Brooklyn-based architectural firm, Blank Design, is subdued and minimal in the traditional Japanese style. Dimly lit and relaxing to the senses, the space is anchored by wraparound natural wood counter seating in the center of the room, providing front-row seats to the open kitchen, where the Executive Chef and his assistants prepare ingredients and grill skewers with precision technique. Two-person tables surround the counter and line the bamboo walls for more intimate dining. The far right wall will be dedicated to exhibiting some of the wine bottles from the restaurant's impressive collection.
Toriko NY is not the casual izakaya of Japanese tradition, but rather a destination for discerning yakitori enthusiasts and oenophiles.
The best way to experience the menu is through the omakase, available in 10 skewers of chef's choice. An a la carte menu is also available, with yakitori choices including Sabiyaki (tender loin with wasabi), Seseri (neck), Maruhatsu (heart), Sunagimo (gizzard), Yagen (soft bone), Furisode (drumette), Bonjiri (tail), Kawa (skin) and Tsukune (chicken meatball).
Kushiyaki, or other non-poultry skewers, include Atsuage (deep fried tofu), Pork Tomato, Foie Gras, and Tamari Marinated Mozzarella.
And though chicken is the star of the show, grilled vegetable skewers are an integral part of the experience. Options include Maitake Mushrooms, Nagaimo Yam, Cherry Tomatoes, and Zucchini.
There is also a selection of various small plates: Broiled Chicken Skin with Ponzu, Chicken Liver Mousse, Grilled Wagyu, and Foie Gras & Truffle Chawanmushi. And one must not miss the house specialty Toriko Wonton Shio Ramen, made with chicken bone broth, housemade wheat noodles, chicken wontons, boiled egg and microgreens.
Larger dishes accompanied by miso soup and pickles can be found in the Meal section of the menu, including the Oyakodon (Chicken & Egg Rice Bowl), Soborodon (Ground Chicken Rice Bowl), and a Toriko Bento Box complete with various meat and veggie skewers with rice.
For a sweet finish, desserts may include Hojicha Ice Cream or Matcha Mousse.
The global wine list will lean French, and feature light whites and reds carefully selected to pair well with chicken and balance the salt and character of the meat and vegetables. Guests can expect bright Loire Valley sauvignon blanc, buttery chardonnay from Burgundy, tart German riesling and elegant Napa pinot noir. Options will be available by the glass or bottle, and will range from approachable and affordable to complex and spendy. The craft beer list will feature domestics and imports including Alchemist and Hill Farmstead from Vermont, and Delirium Tremens from Belgium.
A list of Japanese-inspired house cocktails rounds out the beverage list, including the Shochu Sour (Alakey Shochu, sudachi juice), the Toriko Gin & Tonic (Elephant London Dry Gin, white grape juice, Fever Tree Indian tonic), and the Noble Earth (Nobushi Japanese Whisky, coconut water, pineapple juice).
Toriko NY is located at 76 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014. Call them at 646.596.8198 and visit: https://www.toriko-ny.com/. They are open Monday to Saturday 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm (last order is 11:00 pm) Follow them on Instagram @torikonewyork
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Toriko NY