Just say the word “yakitori” and I’m there. Heck, you could stick a skewer through a pine cone and I’d give it a try. So when I arrived in New York City last night to spend some quality time with my daughter, our first stop was Yakitori Totto on West 55th St.
What is Yakitori?
Traditionally “yakitori” is skewered chicken grilled over an intensely hot charcoal fire. But at least here in the United States, the term is loosely used to describe Japanese skewers of everything from boiled quail eggs to beef tongue. The marinades and seasonings are distinctly Japanese and along with the grilling process, give each skewered tidbit an intense and mouth-watering flavor.
The Menu at Yakitori Totto
The menu options are divided into sections of which yakitori is only one of several. They are: Appetizers, Tofu/Salad/Vegetable Dishes, Soup/Meat & Seafood, Yakitori, Noodles & Rice Dishes. The individual menu items are quite varied and will satisfy the most diehard meat and potatoes lover to the strictest vegetarian. Portions are small, though, so be prepared to order a few choices. Going with friends is a great way to try new and adventurous options.
The Ambiance at Yakitori Totto
Like many restaurants in NYC, Yakitori Totto is small and a bit cramped. But the energy is uplifting and the vibe is fun. Because the space is so small it’s easy to get your waitress’ attention to order another drink or some additional skewers. The interior design is upscale with tasteful Asian décor and amenities.
My favorite Yakitori Totto skewers
Without a doubt my favorite skewers were the chicken livers (yum) and the kobe beef (double yum). I also really enjoyed the bacon-wrapped asparagus and skirt steak. My daughter shared a taste of her pork belly with me and it was delicious as well.
Additional Tips for Dining at Yakitori Totto:
Start Slowly – It’s easy to grab your waitress to order more, so start with two or three items and add on as your appetite dictates. The food comes fast and hot so it’s easy to order as you eat.
Be Prepared to Wait – Unless you’re dining early, be prepared to wait for a table. When we first arrived we were told our wait could be up to 45 minutes. If you give the hostess you phone number, she will happily call you when your table is ready, so you can grab a drink in the neighborhood while you wait.
Order Outside the Box – If you tend to stay within your comfort zone when eating, try at least one item that is adventurous to you. Portions are small and inexpensive, so you’ve nothing to lose. To me, it makes the dining experience a lot more memorable.