Thursday, May 11, 2017

First Bite: Tori Ichi

I once passed by this new yakitori restaurant on my home one time and took a mental note to visit it soon. But food gods had other plans and made my visit sooner. And sweeter too as it was a sponsored eat up by Epicurean Partners Exchange, Inc. and looloo. We were told to skip lunch as it was bound to be a very festive night for the tummy and it sure was!

Hello, Tori Ichi!

It would be easy to miss this two-story Japanese restaurant located at the corner of 4th Avenue across Kuppa as a huge metal sculpture blocks its facade. But no art can go in between me and my love for Japanese food.
I was warmly greeted by high ceiling with drop lights, wooden furniture and comfy-looking seats with lovely prints. I headed up to the function room on the second floor and I was welcomed by Mackis of Tori Ichi and the looloo gang.
We were given a quick overview of Tori Ichi before indulging in some of their bestsellers and we were all surprised to find out that this place isn’t that new at all. It has been on the exact same spot for two years now. But everyone, even those who work and/or live in BGC, had an impression that this place is new as we’ve never seen it before. We all figured that it must be that huge sculpture.

Mackis also gave us a rundown of Tori Ichi’s offerings and what makes it different from the other yakitori places. First off, Tori Ichi uses premium wood-turned-charcoal called binchotan allowing the yakitori to be grilled to perfection without the nasty burnt smokey taste. Second, Tori Ichi has specialties per location despite having the same menu. Its BGC branch specializes on yakitori while its MOA branch focuses more on sushi. With that said, Tori Ichi positions itself to be not just a yakitori place but a destination that would satisfy your Japanese food cravings. And we were invited to find out if it will satiate ours.

We first shared and sampled the Meijin Set (PHP950) which comes with 20 various yakitori. Among the bunch of options to choose from, my favorites were Asparagus Bacon, Yakiniku, Chicken Tail, Enoki Bacon, Mochi Bacon and Corn on Cob.
I have to admit, I’m quite biased with the ones with bacon because... come on, it’s bacon! The asparagus had that delightful crunch I love from fresh stalks. The enoki was just as enjoyable but some strands got stuck in between my teeth and it bothered me for several minutes.
Yakiniku was something I’d expect to like in yakitori shops. And true enough, Tori Ichi offers good beef yakitori. Just make sure to eat it right away to enjoy it at its best texture.

I’ve never had chicken tail (or butt) before and I was surprised that I actually liked it. Who knew chicken butt could be so yummy? I love the soft, chewy and crunchy texture of it and I would have eaten the whole thing plus 5 more sticks if I was dining alone.

But the biggest surprise for me was the corn on cob. At first, no one was really minding it as it was a bit messy to eat it. But since I was hungry, I picked one up and ate it. And it was the buttery salty kind of corn that made me turn into a cob monster.

Next served were the new maki rolls Spicy Deep Fried Tuna Maki (PHP185) and Shake Kawa Maki (PHP140).

I was excited to sample the two as I was picturing a beautiful contrast of soft and crunchy textures. However, only the Shake Kawa Maki was able to deliver. The Spicy Deep Fried Tuna Maki wasn’t spicy at all and that means a lot coming from someone with very low spice tolerance. It would have been more enjoyable if it was spicier and if the batter or seaweed is covered by tempura flakes for crunch.
The Shake Kawa Maki had nice crunchy salmon skin bits and for PHP140, it was bang for the buck.

We didn’t have to hurry taking photos of the next set of dishes as these ones are best eaten cold. Yes, up next were Hokkigai (PHP420) and Shimisaba (PHP195).

You might be thinking, Hoki-what and Shimisimba? To be honest, I’ve never heard of these too but it turns out that these are surf clam and mackerel. (I usually just call mackerel as saba).

Though I like my mackerel fried rather than cold, I was impressed that this dish didn’t have a strong fishy taste. Texture-wise, it was different from the ones I’m used to and I couldn’t say that I liked it.
I prefer the surf clams more as it has that slight chewy texture that I enjoy from munching octopus and squid. The taste though was too delicate that it’d be too bland without the soy sauce and wasabi.
Last savory dish served was the Tojidon (PHP375) or shrimp tempura with egg over rice. It was like your usual katsudon bowl but instead of pork cutlet, this one had tempura. It was good but nothing spectacular for me. But the others enjoyed it and some even went crazy with the chili powder. Maybe it’s better if spicy?
We capped the night with some Matcha Ice Cream with red beans (PHP80/scoop) and it was pretty good! I loved that the matcha taste was evident yet well balanced by the sweet red beans.
Some of us also got a sip of Gekkeikan Nigori sake (PHP550/300ml) to welcome the long weekend and let’s just say I’m not a fan of sake.

Overall, it was a good meal and fun company. I’d definitely go back for more of the bacon yakitori but I think I’d swing by its MOA branch to try its sushi and sashimi.

Tori Ichi is located at Ground Floor, Net Quad, 4th Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

 Tori Ichi Yakitori & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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