I always forget how much I like yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) until I have the occasion to eat it. There’s a yakitori stand run by a delightful old man just around the corner from my home in Kumamoto. Occasionally, when I need something in a pinch for my daughter’s school bento, I’ll pop over there the night before for a few skewers. Good as they are, nothing could quite compare to the yakitori at Torisei.
Since Torisei is located in Fushimi – Kyoto’s main sake brewing neighborhood – it seems only fitting that the restaurant is the offshoot of the Yamamoto Honke brewery. Some people come for the sake, some people come for the chicken. My main point here is, A LOT of people come. Especially on weekends. Make a reservation. You’ll be glad you did.
For lunch, diners can order a special chicken and rice dish called torimeshi, or simply pick one of the yakitori sets from the lunch menu. For the slightly squeamish, the sets DO involve some questionable parts of the chicken (well, questionable to me) but you can also order a la carte if you prefer to keep it in the realm of things you can identify.
Call me simplistic, but I judge all yakitori places by their tsukune (chicken meat ball). That’s mostly because it’s my daughter’s favorite skewer choice so we eat a lot of them. 🙂 Torisei’s was definitely top-notch, lightly brushed with a semi-sweet tare sauce. The sauce carried over to the chicken and leek, another one of my favorites. I wasn’t too fond of gizzard of liver but the tebasaki (chicken wing) was pretty dang good. Oddly enough, we completely overlooked the torimeshi but my husband’s chicken ramen was divine, with a broth that was packed with umami flavor.
Torisei (sorry – Japanese website only) has a few branches around Kyoto (including in popular neighborhood Gion) but you could always combine a trip to the honten (main shop) with a sake tour or visit to nearby Fushimi Castle or Fushimi Inari Shrine.