Tori Shin – Hell’s Kitchen
The word “yakitori” in Japanese translates to “grilled chicken” in English. Which is why Tori Shin is charring forty different arrangements of skewered free-range Jidori chicken at its Upper East Side home on First Avenue between 64th and 65th Street. It would be fair to say that the restaurant was a welcome addition when it launched a decade ago, and it’s still a welcome addition, not just to the Upper East Side but to Manhattan as a whole. That’s because this is the city’s only yakitori specialist that offers an omakase-style (or chef’s choice) dinner dedicated to perfectly cooked skewered meats, ocean animals, and vegetables.
Head chef and general manager Atsushi Kono has been ensconced at Tori Shin since day one. Though his parents are in the fish business, and he attended culinary school in Tokyo, Kono had never before cooked yakitori prior to opening Tori Shin. He had, however, studied Kyoto-style kaiseki, which taught him a multitude of cooking techniques that manifest in Tori Shin’s omakase.
The owner Shu Ikeda hired Kono in Tokyo and then brought him over to New York to cook and help run the place. While Tori Shin is presently Ikeda’s only restaurant, he did operate eateries in Tokyo at one point, and learned the art of yakitori cookery at Toriyoshi, a highly respected group of five omakase yakitori restaurants in the Tokyo area, the first of which dates back to 1980. Toriyoshi is the inspiration behind Tori Shin.
Since the beginning, the restaurant’s mission was to promote the most authentic Tokyo style yakitori experience, using the highest quality ingredients, hence the name Tori Shin : True chicken. Seatings are mainly at the counter, with cook performances.
“Yakitori” literally means “grilled chicken” but Tori Shin’s yakitori is beyond ordinary. Its amazingly crispy, juicy and flavorful skewers will change your idea about yakitori. What is the difference between Tori Shin and others? The answer is in their process. “Choose the chicken” “Choose the chicken” (Yes! It’s organic) “Cut the meat and skewer them” (Divide the parts accurately so each skewer has the right amount of meat, not too much or too little. Think of a beautiful balance!) “Grill them over charcoal” (Use only “Binchotan” charcoal and professional skills to assure a crispy outside and juicy inside) It sounds very simple, right? Perhaps if you are a skilled chef.
The menu offers à la carte, 10 Skewers Set (7 Meats and 3 Vegetables) and Chef’s Omakase, which combines eight skewers with other prepared dishes.
Ordering à la carte is a fun way to explore the menu, which offers grilled vegetables and items like chicken cha-shu in addition to omakase-a succulent onslaught of kara-age, chicken and duck tsukune, blistered shisito peppers, and soboro don.
What’s great about Tori Shin is that you can go omakase and experience all of it for an average price. The staff is super friendly and eager to walk you through your meal, and they will happily stick to just the familiar parts of the bird if you so wish.
The restaurant recently received a star in the Michelin New York City Restaurant Guide for the third year in a row.
Come and experience the best of the best yakitori at Tori Shin!