Saturday, February 6, 2010

Behind Glass Walls

Seeing as how I wrote something about yakitori (grilled chicken) as recently as January 20, you’d think it would be enough on that subject for a while. But as luck would have it, I got invited out for dinner tonight at another yakitori restaurant, this one in Shimbashi, an area in Tokyo’s Minato Ward near Ginza which is a business area by day, and a bustling eating and drinking hub by night. Most restaurants in the area are all very crowded on weeknights, but not so busy on weekends.

My longtime friend, Itô-san made the reservation at Tori Dori in Shimbashi because she had on an earlier occasion been to the Yokohama branch of this restaurant and thought it very good. Yakitori comes in a variety of settings, and while one restaurant may be noisy and jumping with customers doing more drinking than eating, another may be quiet and sedate with tatami floors and kimono clad servers. Tori Dori falls into the second category and is one of those very traditional places where you remove your shoes at the entrance and proceed to your table across pristine tatami mats. There is a dining counter for those who like to watch the cooks preparing the yakitori, and there are also glass enclosed private dining spaces for those who want to be out of the traffic. Itô-san and I chose the latter. The picture at the top shows a view of the small two-person space as we entered. It wasn’t much bigger than it looks in the picture, but it was comfortable. The floor under the table is recessed, and diners sit on the floor on either side of the table. As I said above, the small area is totally glass enclosed and private, as least as far as conversation goes.

They don’t offer English, but the rather elaborate Japanese menu includes photos of every item on the menu, so choosing what to eat is no problem. Itô-san and I didn’t try any of the servers out in English, but my guess is language wouldn’t pose an insurmountable problem.

Everything we ordered was excellent. The fish in the appetizers was freshly caught, and the basket of vegetable sticks, as well as the white radish salad with greens all looked and tasted garden fresh. We had a plate of standard grilled chicken on skewers some wrapped with bacon and asparagus, and we also had a plate of chicken tempura with grated radish, green onion and ponzu, a citrus based sauce. Later we had something I was unable to figure out, other than recognizing it as tôfu cooked with mushrooms in a thick Chinese sauce—at least I thought it was a Chinese sauce, but I could be off on that. It too was tasty.

The middle photo will give you an incomplete glimpse of a couple of the things described, and the bottom photo shows two cups of tea with a dessert called the ‘chocolate plate,’ which included cake, ice cream, pudding and short sticks of milk chocolate.

It was very satisfying meal in a comfortable setting, and not terribly expensive. If you’re in Tokyo I recommend you give it a try.


1-7-1 Shimbashi

TH Ginza Building B1

Tel: 0120-880-271 or 03-5537-1041

1 comment:

  1. Being the hillbilly I am, I'll confess that much about Japanese cuisine eludes me. I guess, in some ways, nurture is a big determinant of our eating habits and desires. I grew up with fried chicken on Sundays, biscuits most everyday and lots of beans and potatoes. But, THIS looks delicious! Meat on a stick--something primal in that from my perspective and, God bles 'em, they left the skin on! Outstanding. Again, I'm sure my tastes are kind of locked in except for my grown-up acquired absolute love of Mediterranean food.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America