Nestled behind the main thoroughfares of Ginza 5-chome, Torigin's distinct take on the yakitori formula has set a new standard for the preparation of the most golden of birds. The secret of Torigin's success remains a unique cooking style whereby the shio (salt) or tare (sweet soy) sauces are added after grilling over charcoal—far superior to the taste from gas fires—and skewering on bamboo sticks. Lightning-quick service and reasonable prices have additionally fuelled the popularity of the Torigin name.
From the outset we went for the jugular, ordering up the delicious sasami sabi (¥250)—balls of lightly cooked minced chicken covered with a smattering of wasabi. The tsukune (¥150) followed closely, which again involved balls of minced chicken though this time cooked until crispy on the outside and moist on the inside and dipped in tare. The grilled version was the first to disappear, but not by much. Once a taste for the raw stuff has been acquired, it's no great leap to toriwasa (¥250), chilled cuts of chicken sashimi with a taste that resembled tuna but with a much more delicate, silky texture. The always-dependable negima (chicken interspersed with spring onion, ¥150) had the juicy vegetables combine wonderfully with chunks of melt-in-the-mouth meat, and by now we felt that a few more greens were in order.
The green peppers of shishito (¥140) were gobbled up before the final coup of Torigin specialties. Here, tebasaki (crispy wings with tare and sesame seeds, ¥250), motsu (liver, ¥140) and shiitake hasami (chicken pieces squeezed between mushroom halves, ¥200) were at the top of the pecking order. Torigin's other famed dish, kamameshi—a kind of rice hot pot—would have to wait until next time. By the end, bare sticks of bamboo littered the table, relieved of any morsels of chicken.