Yakitoriya, Los Angeles
Experience the art of yakitori at Yakitoriya in LA, where chef Toshi-san grills top-quality chicken over binchotan charcoal, creating delicate and flavorful dishes. Explore Japanese food culture and the dedication of a yakitori chef to turn grilled chicken into high art.
Ah, yes, a counter-eye view of a master at work! Visiting LA last week, I had the pleasure of dining at a real-deal yakitori joint called Yakitoriya. I knew I was in for a treat when the chef, Toshi-san, asked if it would be okay if he served his bird on the rare side. Bring it on, taisho! Toshi explained that he sources top-quality chicken, just like in Japan, so pristine and fresh you don't want to grill it to death, just like in Japan (where I regularly enjoy chicken sashimi, especially in Nagoya). Toshi grills all his chicken over binchotan, Japanese oak charcoal so hard it rings like a tuning fork when you knock pieces together (read a related grilling piece I wrote for the late, great Gourmet here). His yakitori was incredible, especially the tsukune, the chicken meatballs, which were so delicate and bursting with flavor. Toshi is a serious yakitori chef who, as I understand it, apprenticed with a revered yakitori master in Tokyo. His restaurant exemplifies one of the things I love about Japanese cuisine: How a cook can dedicate himself to something seemingly simple -- grilled chicken -- and turn it into high art. By the way, we got to talking about hot pots (imagine that) and Toshi told me he serves both chicken meatball and duck shabu shabu hot pots, but you have to call a day in advance. I can't wait to try them on my next trip to Los Angeles.