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The Newest L.A. Treasure! The Stunningly Delectable Roast Chicken Skewers of Yakitori Master (*and* Kyoto-Style Oden Specialist) Torihei! [Review] w/ Pics!

Funny thing.. I was at Musha having a wonderful meal and once I was finished, I saw this place called Torihei across the parking lot. They were apparently scheduled to have their grand opening in a few days. As a foodie I was intrigued to find out what kind of place this could be. Grabbing a business card sitting on the door, I was told by a friend that Torihei has a counterpart in Japan in the prestigious Ginza district. This aroused my curiosity even further.

A day or two after the grand opening I came by to try out their dishes. To my surprise there were people lined out the door. I guess they must have advertised big time to get this many people the first two days after the grand opening. I didn't feel like waiting so I decided to come by a couple of days later for early dinner. Luckily there was no waiting.

I ordered a wide variety of items from the Yakitori to their Oden and some fresh Sashimi dishes. Now let me tell you that I have had some of the best Yakitori out there but they had the freshest chicken I have ever tasted. Their chicken livers were the creamiest I have ever had and their chicken breast was incredibly juicy. My current favorite Yakitori place is called Torimastu, but this place beats them hands down in freshness. However Torimastu still has a significant advantage in their taro or sauce used in Yakitori.

The second area of expertise is their Oden. Oden is like a Japanese stewed dish typically eaten in Japan as comfort food. This type of fare is not commonly served in Japanese restaurants in the states. Torihei serves their Oden Kyoto style and I was surprised how they had elevated this common mans food into something cutting edge. Trying their "half raw egg with cod" was amazing. The flavor combination of the dashi (soup broth) and the semi-boiled egg topped with the saltiness of the cod eggs is something any foodie should not miss. Even their common items like white radish or dikon was elevated to a new level..

Finally their fresh fish department. I tried their "chopped raw tuna w/seaweed". This dish is like a tuna tar tar topped with a raw quail egg. Mixing the egg in yourself, the seasonings used were amazingly flavorful. The nori (dried seaweed) used as the conveyance for the tuna was disappointing. The seaweed combination completely detracted from the subtle flavors of the tuna and was a complete disaster. If they had used crispy fried wonton skin instead of the nori, this dish would have been a perfect 10.

Finally for desert, I decided with the basic "chocolate parfait". It was a fine desert rounding off a fine meal. The only thing standing in the way of a perfect 5 star meal was the tuna dish (so basically just eat the tuna without the seaweed).

Overall I would recommend this place to all my friends, taking food to the next level. For everyone else, its a place you Must try at least once to experience the freshness of their chicken and uniqueness of their oden dishes. You bet I'm going back!

Decor: 4 Stars (classic Japanese tavern)
Service: 5 Stars (self explanatory)
Atmosphere: 5 Stars (the interaction of people, staff, surroundings)
Food Quality: 5 Stars (amazing freshness)
Quantity of Food: 3 Stars (somewhere you will not be going to pig out)
Price: 4 Stars (The cost of food in relation to what you get)

For a Grand Total of 4 Stars.

Apr 24, 2009
SteveBr in Los Angeles Area