Yakitori Totto is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants, and it was on my mind because K had just gone there for her birthday last week. The problem is that a lot of other people realize the place is fantastic, so your best bet for getting a seat is to arrive 10-15 minutes to avoid having to wait an hour plus for a table. I made it 14 minutes late, but since it was Sunday there weren' t too many people, and I managed to get a seat at the bar.
I guess Yakitori Totto is supposed to specialize in yakitori, these grilled skewered meats and veggies. They take the grilling very seriously with one grill master constantly and obsessively monitoring each skewer. The yakitori here is much better than Yakitori Taisho in St. Marks, which I also love but for different reasons.
For an appetizer, I ordered Bainiku & Nagamo Isobemaki, which is japanese pickled plum paste sandwiched between two crispy sweet slices of sticky yam atop a shiso leaf. To the right in the bamboo container are four long thin strips of nori, or seaweed.
This dish is an excellent study in textures. You wrap the seaweed around each little yam sandwich. As you bite in, first one notices the crispy thinness of the nori contrasted by the crunchy, sweet and sticky yam slices. Then comes the smooth and tart tastes of the plum paste and the rough surface of the shiso leaf also brings an aromatic hint to the whole experience.
The taste of the yam and plum paste is pretty strong though, and four pieces is too many for one person. One per diner is really enough.
Then I ordered what is quickly becoming my favorite Asian noodle dish: Totto Tokusei Morioka Style Reimen, which is described on the menu as thin noodles in clear soup topped with kimchee, cucumer, apple and poached egg. To the right is a little sauce cup of vinegar to flavor the broth and some sweet, midly spicy hot sauce.
The dish is cold and perfect for a summer days. In fact, the dish seems to only be available in the summer. At Yakitori Totto, the noodles seem thicker and springier than at other restaurants. The first time I had this dish, I thought it was a bit surprising to have the sliced green apple in an Asian noodle dish, but it really does make a nice contrast in texture and flavors. The chicken in this dish is pointless as most white chicken breast is.