The Missus wanted Yakitori for our last meal in Kyoto and I had a place in mind.
But first, some shopping.
Teramachi Dori, one of the major shopping streets, was strangely quiet on this evening.
The Missus managed to do some damage at this location of Lupicia.
After which we took a nice leisurely stroll up to the Juingu-Marutamachi Station. On street level above the station was a rather discreet, but popular place named Torito. I was interested in the place because of the rather polarizing reviews, some folks declared it yakitori for tourists, yet other said it was amazing....the strange thing about that yakitori for tourists thing is....well, you'll see by what we ordered.
It was out last evening in Kyoto, a place that makes us feel quite comfortable...we just feel relaxed and at home here and our trip to Japan was coming to an end.
The Missus decided to get a Hiball, I had a Suntory Draft.
We noticed that we noticed quickly was that the guy doing all the grilling seemed quite young....also, there were English menus.
But what was on those menus wasn't quite your tourist yakitori items....though the tourists we saw come in ordered stuff like breast and chicken rice bowls, we went full speed ahead and started with some very smokey chicken gizzards.
Which was fine....though a bit too dry for me.
The Nankotsu was very, very good....perfectly grilled, nice and crunchy, but really pleasant to eat.
And followed with Tori no Tataki, seared, basically rare chicken.
This was dark meat, very clean, but definite chicken flavor. A bit too chewy for my taste, I should have gotten the white meat, which I think is much more tender raw. Tourist food, huh?
The Missus absolutely loved the "Kimo" (chicken liver) and declared it the best She's ever eaten.
The Kawa-su, chicken skin salad was a nice refreshing change of pace.
Up next was more Chicken Skin....but not "just" chicken skin, but we chose "Chicken Buttock Skin".
Very interesting texture....a bit more chewy, but man, the flavor was so amazingly distinct......
Next up was our Tsukune....this is what I basically judge my yakitori places on. First thing we noticed was that the tsukune was made to order. That is, when the order is placed, the chef forms it by hand. Now watching this guy was amazing as he juggled both the grill and the deep fryer, never missing a beat. As you can easily see; this was the tsukune I've ever had.
From the light and crisp exterior, to the creamy interior....I'm wondering how much chicken fat is in this....a quick dip in the egg; more richness and flavor. This by far is the best I've had.
The Wing Tips were okay, though a bit too hard and chewy for us.
One thing we were noticing was the perfect amount of salt was being used.
I absolutely loved the Hatsu...the chicken hearts, which weren't grilled too heavily.....just the right amount of smoke and salt.
There's a part of the menu which features local, Kyoto bred chicken (the tsukune is on that part of the menu) and we tried the chicken thigh with quail egg.
There was a more distinct chicken flavor in this; something that's missing here in the States for the most part. Loved the little piece of cartilage left on the meat, it added a nice textural contrast, as did the quail egg, though I could have done without that. The Missus though, loves Her quail eggs.
The Chicken wings were just ok.....especially after having all the previous dishes.
The skin on these was a bit too rubbery for us.
The Missus loved Her "finishing" dish (Shime), going with the rich and velvety chicken bone broth with meatballs.
She still talks about how rich and lovely this soup was.
I went with my standard; a nice, nutty, smokey, yaki onigiri.
A perfect end to a wonderful meal for us.
As we were finishing dinner, the Missus declared this Her new favorite yakitori shop. So I'm guessing we'll be back whenever we're in Kyoto.
The shop is rather discrete. From what I understand....you know, I'm basically about the food...Torito is a species of bird. So the best thing is to find the carving of a bird outside the door of the restaurant.
Torito 9-5 Higashi Marutamachi Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
As I mentioned earlier....Kyoto has a way of making us feel comfortable....in spite of all the tradition and sometimes, well, interesting stuffs.....
We'd always had a visit to Arashiyama on the books and on our last full day in Kyoto, we decided to head out early in the day. We ended up taking the rather fun Keifuku Tram Line to Arashiyama Station.
It was a slightly hazy, but beautiful day....the air so clean. We walked out of the station and headed down what looked like Arashiyama's main street. And walked over to the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.
We headed north alongside the picturesque Oi River and took a right along a rather random street.
It wasn't very crowded, so we just took in the sights a bit.
We headed out front, looking for the Bamboo Forest. I walked up to a traffic officer and asked for directions to the Bamboo Grove. In the typical Japanese way....he insisted on walking us most of the way there.
It was very pretty....but for some reason, I expected it to be a bit more grand.
I guess having grown up around various bamboo forests......
The place does take some really nice photos though.
Heading back down to the street, we found another entrance to Tenryū-ji. This is the garden area and is quite beautiful.
By now, we'd had enough for the morning and headed back to downtown Kyoto. We walked around a bit and decided to have lunch at a place I had specifically marked down. We'd really enjoyed Ippudo in Osaka and there just happened to be a location in downtown Kyoto.
Call us boring, but we'd enjoyed ourselves so much on our previous visit to the Osaka location that we basically got the same thing. The Shormaru Special, what I call a classic tonkotsu with chashu and egg. And of course, the Missus got Hakata Chikara Meshi, chashu rice and an onsen tamago.
The broth was nice and rich, but not oily nor too fatty. The flavor is rather delicate. The chashu was tender and nicely flavored, the noodles just perfectly al dente for my taste.
I gave the Missus my tamago....now that's love. And when She cut into it....well, we had a perfect "egg porn shot".
Our meal was the perfect foil for the cool autumn chill.
Feeling nice and warm, we headed on out to do some shopping. We found an underground passageway to Takashimaya Department Store.
Of course this lead right to B1 and the food floor.
We were wandering around the third floor of Takashimaya Department Store and I noticed this.....
Oh my....it was Din Tai Fung!
And there was no line.....
The Missus and I looked at each other......why not, right? We still had a bit of room in our bellies, so we went for a second, rather light lunch.
I was wondering just how good this was going to be. We got the pork and crab version of the Xiao Long Bao. When it arrived, it looked like the XLB on the left had leaked, but it had not. As for the wrappers....well just look at the classic "XLB hang". The wrapper were very nice, for some reason they seemed a bit thicker than the wrapper at DTF here in the states. I really couldn't complain about the amount of soup, nor the flavor (a bit too sweet for me), or the texture. This was pretty good. Much better than anything we have here in San Diego.
The Missus has got to have Her veggies, so we got some greens. Nice and simple, very mildly seasoned.
Din Tai Fung (Third Floor of Takashimaya Department Store) 52 Shincho, Shijo Kawaramachi-dori Nishi-iru Simogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8001
I guess that's fun part of trips...you make basic plans, but leave time to wander and explore. You never know what you'll run into.
After a nice morning and early afternoon of visiting Kiyomizu-dera and shopping, we had a nice nap, then headed off to Kyoto Station. We had booked a trip to Nagoya.
For what, you might ask? Earlier on the trip we had visited Asahikawa in order to check out the "Main Branch" of Santouka, during one of our many visits to Taisho, Taka-san had told us that we should go to visit the "Main Branch" of Yakuyudori in Nagoya. We thought "why not"? And soon enough and told Taka-san that we'd be glad to visit Yakyuudori and told him what day we'd be there. On our next visit, being the nice guy he is; Taka-san handed me a small slip of paper with a phone number and the address of 142 Fujimigaoka. Apparently, there are several Yakyuudori and Hinotetsu branches in the area, but this is the one we should visit. He even told me that his friend, the main Yakitori guy there would be expecting us.
So it's was a pleasant trip on the Shinkansen, about a 40 minute trip to Nagoya Station where we meandered around a bit, then caught the Nagoya Higashiyama Line to Fujigaoka Station.
We walked around exploring the area, which is much different than around bustling Nagoya Station. We walked through the market and checked out some shops, before heading down Fujimigaoka, which parallels the train tracks (a key item).
Along the way we passed another Yakyuudori. We checked the phone number on the sign. When it didn't match up, we kept going. Until we ended up at this little shop right next to an auto repair.
The locale was quite amazing as it was built right below the subway tracks. Entering was even more interesting......consider the nice, rather darkly lit, austere, yet fairly classy Taisho...jazz music playing in the background. And then check this place out!
Man, you gotta love this place! A total neighborhood "joint", the guys working here were really friendly, almost jolly. And everytime the train passed overhead, the whole restaurant would rock slightly! Amazing!
The "main guy" was so funny...he'd been expecting us, and in fact, wore a Yakitori Taisho T-shirt to welcome us! Check out that crock of salt!
Don't let his jolly and easy going appearance fool you. He had some major grilling chops. Every so often, he'd pass us our food, wink, and say, "better than Taka"! And just crack up.
We ordered all the usual suspects.....if you read my Taisho posts, or have been to Taisho, you'll recognize them. This is where Taka-san trained.
Things started with some Hatsu (chicken heart). We weren't too thrilled by the appearance, but man, this was really good. Heart like gizzards always seems to absorb a good amount of smoke. Combine that with the perfect amount of salt and grilling the chicken heart to "just done" and this was so good. It was very tender as well. You could tell that the chicken here was much different than what we get in the states.
I thought the gizzards were a bit too hard for my taste.
Nice smokey flavor though.
This was good time for a beer break. We ended buying a round for the folks working and they were having a great time....singing aloud, almost dancing.....we were just loving it.
And we loved the Tsukune too. Up to this point in time; I'd say this was the best I had ever had.
My goodness, that tare was a wonderful combination of sweet-salty-savory....the meatball was slightly crisp on the exterior, and meltingly soft....as is the hallmark of the tsukune served at Yakyudori-Taisho-Hinotez here, there was a light background hint of ginger floating around. And a dip in that egg yolk.....adding a rich creaminess. This was number one, until it was dethroned later on this trip. Still, I'd come back for this in an instant!
The Missus loved the creamy Kimo - chicken liver.
Again, not over-cooked, and without tare....but the Missus said it was great.
The nankotsu was also a winner.
Great crunchiness, crisp on the exterior. Nice, restrained seasoning.
And of course......a Yakyudori classic....the Teba, chicken wings.
The akahimo also tasted like a carbon copy of what we regularly get at Taisho.
The kawa (chicken skin) was also a winner. Here it's served without tare as well.
Light and crisp at first bite, transitioning to a creamy interior. Perfect salt, really great chicken flavor.
And then the buto-shiso....the porkiness of this was very distinct.
The interior of the pork roll was very tender, this was another winner.
We loved this place.....the casual, yet welcoming crew, the unique atmosphere. This is what we were wishing for and were left wanting at the Yakitori places in Tokyo. After returning, I chatted with Taka-san about the differences in the chicken used at Yakyudori in Japan and here in the states. I was told that he "wishes he could get the same quality and breed" here.
Well, I guess we'll just have to head back to Nagoya......
Yakyuudori (野球鳥) 142 Fujimigaoka Meito-ku Nagoya Aichi
Before catching the Shinkansen back to Kyoto, we stopped at Takashimaya Department Store....of course going to B1 and checking out the food and snacks. One of the women working at one of the stands was so friendly and warm....really wanted us to taste everything! She was a hoot....so of course we ended up buying some snacks.
It was about time we got into the "holiday spirit" right?
After having a fun evening with Kat and Satoshi we got up fairly early and headed out. The Missus wanted to revisit Kiyomizu-dera to check out the fall colors. We got on the Keihan Line and got off at Kiyomizu-Gojo. The Missus was up for walking all the way up to the temple. But I had already done that the last time and I talked Her into taking a cab! Whew.....
We decided to check out a few areas we missed the last time we visited.
We headed to the Jishu Shrine, which is dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a gentle-hearted god, who along being "in charge" of farming and business, is the prime deity of match-making.
Here we found the "Love Stones"......you can read all about it....
The stones are actually set about 10-15 meters apart. If walk from one to the other with your eyes closed, you'll find true love.....miss...and "sorry Charlie".
Two young ladies actually tried when we were there.....to rather humorous results. I'm kind of relieved the Missus didn't try. With Her sense of direction, I'd probably go up in a puff of smoke!
Speaking of true love....check out this affectionate little guy.
He is truly a pampered pooch......
The main reason folks come to Kiyomizu-dera is for the view. Man, the main viewing hall was a lot more packed than the last time we were here.
The views, whether from the Main Hall or along the trail are quite beautiful.
We meandered along, stopping now and then to take a photo. We'd been here before and it seemed so familiar. And yet, we were able to stop at places that were quite busy the last time around. Like the Three Story Pagoda. I think folks were focused on the views and I don' blame them in the least.
Even with all the folks around us; there's a sense of tranquility.
You get to appreciate the beauty of it all.
Soon enough, buses of non-Japanese visitors started arriving and the noise level started increasing. It was time to head on out.
Just as on our previous visit, we headed back via the side streets of Sannenzaka and Nannenzaka. There's always something interesting to see.....
On this day, there were a couple of wedding photo shoots going on.... This one went for a more dramatic, glamorous look.
While this couple and their photographer were really friendly and nice.
And when I went a displayed my camera, even flashed nice smiles for us. It was adorable.
We headed on back to Shijo-dori. There was some shopping the Missus needed to get done. It was, however, still a bit early. As we passed a coffeeshop, I noticed that the place had "morning service". We'd enjoyed the morning service at Komeda's Coffee in Kamakura, so we decided to stop and get some breakfast. From what I understand, this practice of providing toast, perhaps an egg, salad, yogurt, or something similar originated in Nagoya.
We shared the toast, yogurt, salad...the Missus had a coffee, I got tea. I don't recall what the name of this place was, but this held us until dinner!
Soon enough, a couple Salarymen came in and started smoking....it was time to get the Missus's shopping done.
We then headed back to the apartment, took our usual afternoon siesta....and headed off to Nagoya for dinner. Which we'd be having at a place with ties to San Diego.
We had a nice walk over and met Kat and Satoshi. The place was much more busy than on our last visit.
And we spent a good deal of time catching up on things and just having a good time.
After all, places like this were made for friends gathering, sharing "pupus".
You can read all about this in Kat's post....and it also shows how far behind I'm at with my travel posts as well!
So from here on; it's most it's mostly photos.
Man, I love basashi.....
At the end of the meal, we gave the owner some Mac Nuts....even though we were sure he wouldn't remember us, he'd given us so much samples on our previous visit, we wanted to make sure to show him our appreciation...so of course he busted out the home made ume-shu......
It was our last evening in Seville. And to be perfectly frank; this wonderful gem of a city really charmed us....relaxed, friendly, warm, and fun. For our last dinner, we headed back to the scene of our favorite meal in Seville, the Zaragoza location of La Azotea.
Like I mentioned previously; if you want tapas sized portions at La Azotea, you need to sit at the bar. We arrived right after opening and was greeted with a smile from the very efficient bartender Pablo, who recognized us from our previous visit.
After having some really delicious navajas (razor clams) on our previous visit, the Missus was all about the seafood here.
We started with a media racione (half portion) of Coquinas a species of Donax (small clams) served with fried baby artichokes.
That garlicky white wine sauce was so good and the clams nicely sweet, briney, and tender.
The Calamares was the weakest dish of the evening. Tender, but really nothing special in terms of flavor or how it was fried.
Sticking with the bivalve theme, the Almejas (Clams) en su Salsa (cooked in their own juices) was excellent.
Nice oceany flavor, cut with a bit of acid. The clams were very tender as were the shrimp. Another sauce just made for bread!
And of course, our favorite from the previous evening; the Foie Gras ala Plancha.
Which was just as beautifully rich and decadent as what we had previously. Great balance of sweet and earthy tones, crisp on the outside, molten and quivering inside. Just lovely.
We finished with a nice Vermut. What a nice way to end our stay in Seville!
La Azotea - Zaragoza Calle Zaragoza 5c Sevilla, Spain Open Daily: 130pm - 430pm, 830pm - Midnight
It was Saturday night and Seville was happening. We headed back to the apartment, but decided to stop and enjoy this early (in Spanish terms - like 1030) evening. The Missus had been eyeing out this Helados (Ice Cream) and She decided to step in and get something.
And got the Goat Cheese and Quince Jelly Ice Cream!
I had a different notion....something from across the street.
I think there was some kind of student initiation or something going on here......
I had no idea what was going on, but it sure was festive.....
Though it seemed that most of the guys here just wanted to watch the football match.....
I had my one beer and left. It was time to hit the sack. Our train was to leave early in the morning.
We were a bit sad to leave Seville.....our trip to Spain was almost over. Just one more night in Madrid, then it was back to work.
Here's my requisite Jamon Bellota Iberico Pata Negra shot.
Actually, we shouldn't have been concerned. I had snagged really cheap first class train tickets form Seville to Madrid.
And this being Sunday morning and all; things were really quiet....like "Japan quiet". We were the only passengers in First Class which meant that we got a decent breakfast......and then were able to catch some shut eye!
With dreams of Foie Gras ala Plancha dancing in our heads!
The Missus was rarin' to go during our first full day back in Kyoto. We'd put in a it of mileage on this day, but She did let me (us) catch the Keihan Line two stops to Demachi Yanagi. We got out, had a quick cup of coffee and headed East. Thru a few winding streets somehow ending up at Hyakumanben Chion-ji Temple.
From which we were to get our bearings and head back down Higashioji-dori taking a turn onto Imadegawa-dori.
In spite of being a pretty large street, things were very quiet on this morning, with very few people, and this rather unhappy fellow around.
We knew we were getting close as the street went over the river.....
Before heading back down that street and to the Philosopher's Path.
The path ends in the Nanzenji neighborhood and we walked on over to Sanjo Dori, crossing over the Kamo River. I was in search of our lunch destination.
Before we were interrupted by Typhoon Vongfong on our previous visit. I had planned having a lunch at a place that did Obanzai; basically a place that made seasonal dishes, many of them simple, rustic, and vegetable based, created to minimize waste. The dishes I saw just reminded me of stuff I ate growing up. this was almost the antithesis of the very popular Kyoto Kaiseki.
Just simple, home style dishes....soul food, if you will.
The place I chose was Mimasuya Okudohan......which had a display of "yasai" (vegetables), displayed outside a typical Machiya in the area north of Nishiki Market and the shopping arcades.
There was no one waiting when we arrived at opening time. The fragrance of steaming rice permeated the air as we were seated.
There was a simple two multi-course menu for lunch.
Like the "okazuya" I grew up doing take out from, things were prepped and set-up for a quick service.
And the place filled up fast.
We got one of each of the two lunches.
So many of the flavors were so familiar to me...and the Missus, since I make quite a bit of Japanese nimono style dishes at home. What we really remember is how good the rice was here....I mean, really fragrant, slightly nutty, just amazing.
And the miso soup....more of a red (aka) miso, with a savory bite to it.
And of course those items the Missus loves so much like Kabocha. I really enjoyed the nasubi (eggplant), which had so much savory and earthiness to it.
One of the lunches came with a not so traditional dessert.....which the Missus enjoyed as well.
As we left, we noticed that quite a queue had developed outside the restaurant. It's nice to see folks wanting to try obanzai. For me, it was like stepping into Baban's kitchen. And that's priceless.
Mimasuya Okudohan 318-3 Sanjocho, Nakagyo Ward Kyoto, Japan
The Missus and I have our favorite cities, Kyoto is one of these. It strangely felt almost like coming home, we feel so comfortable here. We again stayed in the area near Higashiyama Station. We enjoy the less hectic pace here, yet the location is close enough to everything.
After dropping things off at the apartment and getting a load of laundry going we headed off to an early dinner.
We headed up Higashioji-dori to a familiar sight.
The place was just opening up. The gentleman running the place was just getting things in order, towel rolled over the back of his neck. There's a comfortable, well-worn vibe to this shop.
Just as on our previous visit, we were greeted with a smile, seated, plates were pointed out. Then he pointed to the self-service dishes on the counter telling us "helpu you self....."
It was apparent on our last visit that rice bowls and fried chicken was the way to go here.
The Missus enjoyed the chashu gohan here the last time; but had really developed a taste for mentaiko in Hokkaido. So She surprisingly chose that!
Very nice savory tones, perfectly cooked rice.
So I ordered the chashu gohan....love the balance of salty-sweet in this version of chashu.
And the wonderfully crunchy, super moist, umami laden chicken karaage.
Surprisingly light, with a faint flavor of ginger, a hint of sweet and major deep savory tones, must be Shio Koji.
A pretty inexpensive meal as well; about $12 for two!
Karako 12-3 Okazaki Tokusei-cho Kyoto
After dinner we crossed over the Kamo River and made our way back to the shopping arcades and the Nishiki Market area. It was quite relaxing to revisit those now familiar places, like the Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine.
It was such a crisp and clear evening. The bright lights of the restaurants and bars on Ponto-chō reflecting beautifully on the Kamo River.
The last time we were in Kyoto our visit was slightly interrupted by Typhoon Vongfong, I promised the Missus that we'd return and finish off the plans we'd had. And so we decided to visit during autumn, where we'd see the wonderful changing of the seasons.
But first, let's have a Mt Fuji break. As I mentioned previously, when leaving Tokyo for Kyoto or anyplace in Kansai for that matter, get a seat on the right side of the Shinkansen....... On a clear day, there's nothing more picturesque than passing a snow topped Mount Fuji.
We left from Tokyo Station quite early in the morning.....I call this shot; "Onigiri at Sunrise".
And a little something from the "Ekiben Stand".
One of the really great things about train stations in Japan is....well, besides being super clean, are the availability of lockers. We stowed our luggage in a locker and headed off, back to Tōfuku-ji. I guess checking out the autumn colors is serious business here as we walked past quite a line to get in.
Of course everyone wants to view things from the Tsuten-kyō Bridge (The Bridge to Heaven) which looked absolutely packed.
As were the trails....though things were covered by the autumn foliage.
And yes indeed, the crowds were no joke.
Though this is Japan, so things were rather orderly.
And views were quite stunning.
And in spite of the crowds, things were rather quiet. So you could find that little peaceful space to admire.
Satisfied we left and headed back to the station to catch the train back to Kyoto Station.
Stopping at a few temples along the way like Taiko-an.
Back to Kyoto Station, they were gearing up for Christmas.
The chill in the air called for ramen and we headed up to 10th floor of the Station Building to Kyoto Ramen Koji, basically Kyoto Station's own "Ramen Street". There are 8 different ramen shops on this floor. Having already had Seabura (Pork Backfat) Ramen, flame torched chashu Miso Ramen in Sapporo, and Iekei Ramen, I wanted some nice Fukuoka style Tonkotsu. So I talked the Missus into Hakata Ikkousha. Yes, I know they have a location in Orange County, but I believe the menu is slightly different.
They were also the busiest place on this floor. We went to the ticket machine and put our money in and got our ticket and waited in line for about 10 minutes.
As is somewhat typical for us; there's no way I can finish a whole bowl myself; we got the Ajitama (soft boiled egg) Ramen and a side dish to share. The presentation at Ikkousha is interesting. They lie four thin slices of chashu on top of the bowl, making it look like a single large layer of pork.
Man, that egg was just a perfect soft, runny boiled thing of beauty. The pork was not my favorite, especially after having so much during this trip as it was on the bland side and rather dry. The noodles were good, a tad past how I prefer them prepared, but way better than anything here in the states. The broth was rich, but I found it less satisfying than Ippudo (we'd go to the Kyoto location later during the trip). I found it less porky and not quite as rich, even though it seemed nicely viscous. It was not bad by any means; quite good, as it still had that "aaaah" factor.
The Karaage was decent, good flavor, but the texture was a little too soft for our taste. Again, we'd have our favorite version again while in the city.
Overall, a nice bowl, decent karaage, it was autumn, the air crisp, our bellies warm.....
Hakata Ikkousha Kyoto Ramen Koji Kyoto Station Building (West Zone), 10th ﬂoor
After having a wonderful time visiting Kamakura, we were pretty hungry. We arrived back in Tokyo and freshened up. We had one more night left and the Missus still hadn't had Her share of Yakitori yet. Isehiro had been a recommendation I received and we even tried to get in on our first evening in Tokyo, but they were strangely closed. So we decided to give it another try.
My understanding is that all the tables upstairs are usually reserved, but the tables and counter downstairs are not. There was not a single soul in the place when we arrived.
But the gentleman behind the grill was cooking like crazy, then placing items in containers. The Missus and I looked at each other and got a feeling that this wasn't going to be a particularly stellar meal. Items are precooked, then reheated.
Next little thing. We were told that there were two "set" menus available.......you can do extras, but no a la carte. The full course was 6480 ¥ (about $60/US at the time) and the "healthy" course was 5832 ¥ (about $54/US). Man, that's not cheap. Each course had 9 skewers, the healthy course had some vegetable items.
We decided to stay the course and just go for it. Though at this point, I'm thinking this better be good. I decided to get a Highball to start.
After the traditional oshibori, the hot towel, things started coming fast a and furious....I mean why not? Most of it was premade.
We both got the Sasami (Chicken Breast) to start. This has never been a big favorite of mine and this version was dry and needed much more salt as well. I first thought that this might be tori-wasa, which would be tender and medium rare, but this was overcooked.
One item that I thought was good here is the Kimo; the chicken liver. The Missus loves this, but I'm not too fond of it. However, this was very good, not too minerally in flavor, without that mushiness I'm not a big fan of.
The tare added a nice sweet-saltiness that deflected all the flavors in chicken liver that I don't like.
We both also received Sunagimo, chicken gizzards.
I usually enjoy how gizzards really absorb the smokiness of the bincho; but instead of being crunchy, this was hard, and strangely didn't have that smokiness I enjoy.
Next up for the both of us was the negi-maki, thigh meat wrapped in scallion.
The meat was very moist if a bit on the tough side. The bitterness of the incinerated scallions was rather unpleasant.
Next up for the both of us is one of my key favorites when it comes to yakitori; tsukune (chicken meatball).
In complete contrast to other items that were basically burnt, this needed a bit more color. What little tare was used on the meatball brought nothing to it. The meatball was toughr than I prefer and there were hard bits as well.
Next up for the Missus, Cherry Tomatoes.
Innocuous, tart, could have used a bit more time on the grill.
I received another of my usual favorites; "kawa", chicken skin.
The burnt bits were crisp, but the rest dry and gummy. This needed more saltiness, or at least a good tare.
The Momoniku (thigh) was quite good.
Except for the scallion being burnt bitter again. Great sweet-salty flavors for the toothsome but not tough chicken thighs. The slightly smoky flavor lifted the dish.
Next for the Missus, Shiitake.
This was fine, but really didn't have any seasoning....it was almost like it hadn't been grilled. Check out the skewers, no blackening on it. Odd.
I received the Aigamo (Duck).
This needed more seasoning and was overcooked for our taste, making it tough and rather stringy.
The Missus finished up with Nankotsu; chicken cartilage.
This was decently prepared, if a bit on the dry side. The amount of salt used was perfect.
My last dish was another favorite of mine; Teba, chicken wing.
Dried out, rubbery, and too salty. Not my favorite combination of textures and tastes.
The Missus and I left somewhat disillusioned. I've always said that it's hard to get a bad meal in Japan and while this wasn't terrible, it wasn't close to being good. I'm wondering if it was just a bad night? Luckily, we'd get some great yakitori later on during this trip.
Isehiro Kyobashi Honten 1-5-4 Kyoashi, Chuo 104-0031 Tokyo