Yakitori Totto - New York, NY

I've been going to NY for years and years and have always marveled at the sheer number of restaurants she has to offer. I mean, it's such a large number that you just CAN'T try all of them. If there were a list of restaurants in NY that I always want to go to, the list is short. Mostly because I just lack the knowledge. But this place, Yakitori Totto, just made it to that list. This is the kind of place I'd go to NY for just to spend hours and hours drinking and eating with good company. The venue is clean, the food is excellent, and the sake or beer runs without end. What more could you ask for.

My cousins and I showed up to this small restaurant at 6pm at night and already there was a 45 minute wait. Needless to say try to make a reservation or show up early to grab a table in time. As we waited outside I took a look at the menu and it's extensive. All sorts of exotic things are on the menu like chicken hearts, gizzards, soft knee bone, and skin just to name a few. I thought to myself I HAVE to try those. I'd later come to find most of those "weird" parts are the first to go.

Now I will put in this disclaimer. If you think you're gonna get out of here spending a few bucks on a brew and an app . . . go ahead and come back when you're ready to throw down. THIS IS NOT A QUICK MEAL. You have to give yourself some time to try all the distinctly different foods here. I hope you'll have the chance to check this place out.

Happy eating!
--Joe Kwon

If you'd like to follow along with the restaurants menu you can download it here.

Tako Wasa (raw octopus marinated in fresh wasabi). We started our meal off with this light appetizer. It was perfect for getting your mouth ready for what's to come.
Hatsu Heart (chicken heart). I figured it was time to get funky right off the bat and ordered this. It has a distinct sanguine flavor and the texture was similar to that of overcooked meat. Chewy in all the right ways.
Miso Dare Mune Niku (chicken breast with scallion and miso) I didn't think chicken breast could taste this good.
Kuro Buta Karashi Lemon (grilled pork belly served with spicy mustard). You know how much I love pork belly. This is EXACTLY what I needed to get my feet off the ground.
Kuro Buta Negi Pon (organic pork with scallions and ponzu sauce). This is another pork belly dish with a twist. It ALMOST fools you into thinking you're eating something healthy. But it tastes too good to be good for you too.
Mune Breast (chicken breast) with Wasabi. This was pretty boring and I don't recommend getting this one.
Shiitake. Simple shiitake mushrooms grilled and topped with bonito flakes and ponzu sauce. This dish has such a rich flavor you'd think you're eating meat.
Hokuhoku Garlic (grilled garlic). This is just plain ole grilled garlic. We weren't sure how to go about eating this one so we just popped the meat out and just ate them plain. Needless to say we weren't too popular that night.
Hotate (great scallop). This was served with lemon, salt, and pepper. So simple, bright, and delicious! Would be a great appetizer at any dinner.
Momo Thigh (chicken thigh). Thigh is a lot tastier than breast and you can tell it has a higher fat content. It's so good just like this.
Kawa Skin (chicken skin). The chicken skin is grilled and made crispy. The flavor, the texture, the smell . . . it's all there! Just what you would expect out of grilled chicken skin.
Tokusei Yaki Onigiri (grilled rice ball). I dunno how they did it, but this was fantastic. It's crispy outside from the caramelized rice gives it a nice crunch to the smokey flavor of the grill. There are a variety of fillings available.
Shishituo Tsukune Tsume (chicken stuffed peppers). This is one of those dishes you wish you could eat for breakfast every day for the rest of your life. It's THAT good.
Asparagus Bacon. Something tells me these aren't really japanese. Nonetheless someone thought it would taste good if you wrapped bacon around asparagus and grilled it. They were right. But bacon just tastes good by itself . . . does it not?
Enoki Bacon. Another questionable Japanese dish. I personally wouldn't get this one again mostly because you don't have ANY resemblance of enoki mushrooms in there after the bacon flavor coats your mouth. Whatever, bacon's bacon. Bacon bacon bacon.
Negi Tori Don (chicken with scallions and raw egg over rice). This is one of the larger dishes they offer on the menu. It's easily eaten by yourself but it would fill you up. We shared this among 5 people.
Did I mention we shared the last one among 5 people. We needed more. It was too good to just have one! We also ordered our egg steamed but you can get it raw as well. I recommend it raw.
Tako No Kara (deep fried octopus). At this point of the meal we're all getting quite full. SO of course we had to bring out the heavier dishes. They prepared this octopus dish so well. The batter was perfectly crunchy AND crispy. There's a difference.
Sato Yosuke's Inaniwa Udon (udon noodle soup served with chicken, vegetables, and seaweed). The japanese really know how to do noodle soups. They are always so light and leave you feeling perfectly full. Unless of course you just ate the above 18 courses first.
Nagaimo (Japanese sticky yam with soy sauce). Alright so if you get this dish I will warn you, these are not the kind of yams you are used to. They are instantly slimey in your mouth and have a crunchy texture and little sweet flavor. Not my favorite. In fact my least favorite dish of the meal.
Amakare Age (sweet and spicy chicken). Nearing the end of our meal, we decided to go out with a bang and order the richest things we could find. "Fried chicken . . . yeah that's a good idea!" is what we thought to ourselves. We were wrong. This taste very similar to general tso's chicken you'd get at a chinese restaurant so it didn't leave me wanting much more.
Croquette. There is something very comforting about a croquette filled with cheese and rice. Why? I guess it reminds me a lot of my childhood eating these delicious balls of filled fried dough.
Yakimiso Tofu (deep fried tofu topped with yuzu and miso paste). This is a great dish I wish we would have ordered earlier in the meal. It's got a nice citrusy, sweet flavor and the texture of the deep fried tofu would have been great with rice.
Ice Banana. This was our desert. I'm personally not one for desert, but this was a great way to end our meal. The little balls of tapioca sitting in the bottom are fun to eat and the coconut milk and frozen banana are a perfect combination.

Well that's it folks.

I eat too much maybe. Dang! It's scary to look up at a meal after you've eaten it and see how MUCH you ate. Who needs to go for a run? See ya out there!

For more information about this restaurant check out the Google page here.