There are so many “Izakaya” in Japan, with all different kinds and offerings. There are the kinds that people go with lots of friends for a very fun (and a bit noisy) time, there are the ones where smoking is still permitted, and there are others with a bit more upper class, with dimmed lights and quiet ambiance. I visited one of those quiet and relaxing kind, Toriyoshi. Then again, I can’t say that all the other Toriyoshi locations are the same, really depends on where you are… The one I visited was really nice, I had a very relaxing time with my family. The entrance was decorated with old-fashioned Japanese design, creating that specific atmosphere.
It was not too crowded in the inside, and we sat at the table away from other customers, so we could have a nice quiet dinner, and be able to talk to each other without screaming. They served us complimentary chawanmushi at the beginning, which was super delicious! It was creamy, smooth, velvety, really nice way to start the meal. Chawanmushi is a Japanese egg custard dish, cooked in a steam pot, very comforting little dish, especially during the cold season. It will warm you up from the inside…
We of course ordered all sorts of drinks, Kirin Premium Beer (660 yen, roughly $6.50), Mango White Peach cocktail (490 yen), Black Woolong Tea (350 yen), and sake that you drink with fresh squeezed orange (yes, you squeeze it to your liking). They were all very good, high quality and tasty drinks to get our appetite even more excited.
We ordered several small plates to share, as that is the typical way to eat at Izakaya. We were there with my gourmet sister, and I trust her taste buds completely, so we went mostly with her recommendations. And of course, she never disappoints me. The first one was Tofu Tempura (500 yen). They were lightly fried, not greasy at all, had a nice, almost crunchy outside, but the inside was soft with just the right amount of dense texture, it was really great. You put a little bit of salt, or nothing at all, depends on your preference. I liked them with and without salt, it does bring out a little different taste of tofu. Either way, it was a big hit! Then we moved on to Chicken Nanban (680 yen), my new found love in Japan. It is basically a fried chicken with unique tar tar sauce, but it is soooo good! At this Toriyoshi, they really know how to do the chicken well, as their specialty is chicken. The chicken was lightly fried, very juicy in the inside, and the sauce had a great flavor of sweetness with a little kick, perfectly balanced. I gotta learn how to make that!
Then, we ordered my sister’s number one recommendation, Plump Shrimp with Mayo (680 yen). When they say plump, they really mean it. It was really plump, as soon as bite into the shrimp, you can here it popping in your mouth. It was very fresh, tasty, and the mayo sauce had a great flavor also. Super delicious! We also had a sashimi salad, which I don’t remember the name or the price… but I do remember it was very fresh, very tasty. It was refreshing and the sashimi was cut with nice enough thickness.
Another great item was Chilled Simmered Eggplant (490 yen). The eggplant in Japan is so different from the ones in the US, it is smaller, more delicate and full of flavor. These eggplants here were simmered with great flavored broth, and eggplants soaked up all the juice, really delicious. This reminded me of my mother’s cooking from long ago, very comforting dish. Then we got one of their most popular item, Chicken Wings (480 yen). As I mentioned, their specialty is chicken, and their wings takes the main stage. They really take their time with their creation, and they have been making it the same way since over 30 years ago. Their secret sauce is really tasty, tangy, flavorful, and yes, very addictive! I don’t know how they make them, but they really know what they are doing.
The old-fashion way to end a meal is by having a rice dish or noodle as the last dish. So, keeping up the custom, we ordered Oyakodon (590 yen). It is one of a traditional Japanese dish, consisting of chicken cooked in a Japanese broth, and then finished with egg, scallion, and onions, and served over rice. Everyone makes this dish a little differently, but that is the basic Oyakodon. Toriyoshi knows their chicken, and I assume that also involves in knowing their eggs. It was really tasty, with chunks of chicken, and egg had such nice flavor from the broth. Very comforting and a perfect way to end the meal.
We had a nice hot flavored water to sooth our full stomach, and it was complete. They do take care of you until the very end. Speaking of taking care of their customers, I have to mention how awesome the bathroom was. They had everything you need to groom your mouth, from toothpicks, toothbrush and toothpaste, and mouthwash! How great is that? Now you can leave the restaurant with a fresh mouth, perfect kind consideration if you are there with your date. I really like and appreciate that!
Needless to way, I enjoyed everything fully, and I was very happy with the experience. It was relaxing, nice atmosphere, the service was very good, and the food was amazing. I will definitely go back there again in the future. If you are in the area, you should give them a try! Don’t forget to order their…well, everything is really good!
Toriyoshi – 2 Chome 29-8, Dōgenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0043