Dinner @ Torioka 鳥おか (Tokyo, Japan)

June 23, 2020 in Japanese

I got to know about Torioka through a friend. “Sister branch of Torishiki,” he texted. And that message got me so excited! You see… Ever since I began my annual trips to Japan in 2016, I always tried to make reservation at 1 Michelin star Torishiki. But of course, I haven’t been lucky yet. I reckon I need a miracle to get through Torishiki’s busy phone line. But I digress…

So when my friend told me chef-owner Yoshiteru Ikegawa of Torishiki had opened an offshoot in September 2018, I knew I had to make my reservation because Torioka could be the closest I ever get to Torishiki. And honestly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect too. Just in time for my 2019 trip to Japan! I also liked that chef Ikegawa san appointed Noriyuki Kurosaki, his long time assistant at Torishiki, to be in charge of Torioka. It meant I was definitely in good hands!

And surprisingly, reservation at Torioka turned out to be more straight forward than I thought. One didn’t even need to call. Everything could be done with a few clicks on the reservation website. So different from Torishiki’s reservation system!

My dinner booking was at 8.45pm. But what I didn’t know was that the restaurant was located inside the mixed-use development Roppongi Hills. And Roppongi Hills was huge! I reached the compound at 8.35pm and ended up being late for my dinner because I had much difficulty locating the shop. And it was uncomfortable stepping through the entrance and directly into the main space because everyone turned to stare at me.

A U-shaped counter took the main stage of the space. And hidden out of sight by the black noren (Japanese fabric divider) was the kitchen. Upon seated, I was given the drinks menu. And after placing my order for beer, I commenced my omakase dinner with:-

1) 11 skewers course (¥7300) comprised of:

(A) Assorted pickles (above)

(B) Skewer #1 (above) – Chicken thigh.

(C) Skewer #2 (above) – Chicken gizzard.

(D) Skewer #3 (above) – Chicken skin.

(E) Skewer #4 (above) – Mushroom.

(F) Skewer #5 (above) – Quail egg.

(G) Skewer #6 (above) – Tofu.

(H) Skewer #7 (above) – Liver. Didn’t quite enjoy this though. It was too thick and soft. But not to be confused as raw.

(I) Skewer #8 (above) – Gingko nut.

(J) Skewer #9 (above) – Chicken heart.

(K) Rice (above)

(L) Skewer #10 (above) – Head chef Kurosaki san tried to explain what the skewer was (in Japanese), but I unfortunately couldn’t understand him. But it tasted a lot like skin to me. On the fattier side though.

(M) Skewer #11 (above) – Meat ball.

(N) Chicken soup (above)

(O) Roasted tea (above)

2) Beer

When I was onto my meat ball skewer, I realised it was the last of my 11-skewers course. It then dawned on me that I wasn’t getting any chicken wing. Sad. And because I arrived to the restaurant when everyone (who had reached earlier than me) was already in the midst of their dinner, I rationalised head chef Kurosaki san must have run out of chicken wings.

And when head chef Kurosaki san doused the ember charcoal of his grill (which was also the main grill), I wondered why the others were still grilling at the secondary grill. Especially since I was served the last skewer for the night. I watched on curiously and got to witness a beautiful scene…


Chef Yoshiteru Maekawa, another of chef Ikegawa san’s trusted assistant, was also stationed at Torioka. He’s helping out at Torioka before he leaves for Torshiki’s overseas branch in New York in June 2020. And it was very heartwarming as I witnessed him patiently training the assistant. Chef Mawkawa san never left sight of his assistant even when he stepped aside to give the assistant his space to grill on his own. Loved it!

My meal came up to ¥9590 (including tax and service charge). Will I recommend Torioki? A definite yes from me. Not just because I was touched by what I saw, but also because food was good! Every skewer was beautifully grilled.

I would also recommend one to dress up a little. The customers on a Sunday night were mainly young adults who looked pretty well-to-do. I was put to shame sitting alongside dolled-up female customers who had really thick lashes. I only had concealer to cover my eye bags. Oops!

Torioka 鳥おか
5F, Roppongi Hills West Walk, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato City, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 港区 六本木 6-10-1 六本木ヒルズ ウエストウォーク 5F)
+81 3 6447 2933, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 16:00 – 22:00
Ambience: 8
Value: 8
Service: 7

Dinner @ Toriki とり喜 (Tokyo, Japan)

November 17, 2016 in Japanese

And through Instagram (Yes, Instagram again. Ha), I got to learn about a new (yakitori) dish; Chochin which is chicken with egg yolk. It was the one dish I had to have in Japan cause it’s not available in Singapore at all. And along with wanting to try the unfamiliar dish, I wanted to dine at a Michelin-starred yakitori joint too. =p

However, I faced 2 challenges. I bought my flight ticket only 2.5 weeks prior to flying. So by the time I did my research, I was left with only 1.5 weeks. And the 2 Michelin-starred yakitori joints which I was interested to check out are known to be notoriously difficult to make reservation at cause they are very popular. And yes, famous too.

My other challenge was making the reservation. Cause even if there was a slot, they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Japanese. I made an overseas call, but was rejected politely with “Sorry, no (understand) English”.

But I was fortunate my friends had (Japanese) friends living in Japan who assisted to call the 2 yakitori joints and secured a slot for me at Toriki. Yeah! =) And I was updated that it was a course menu which would stretch over 2 hours. No issue with me!

Google map is definitely my best friend when I am abroad. I relied heavily on it to find my way to the restaurant. And the good thing about first seating was that I got to be seated even though I arrived 10 minutes early. One had to wait for customers from the first seating to leave if one belonged to the second seating.

After being shown to my counter seat, chef Yasuhito Sakai san took out the English (food) menu (pages 1, 2). That’s when I realised the dish which I came for was not part of the course. So as I placed my order for my drink sake, I told chef Yasuhito Sakai san that I wanted to order additional sticks. And with that, I started my dinner with:-

1) Set course, ¥4000 comprised of:-


(A) Pickled vegetables (left) & grated radish (right)

(B) White breast with wasabi (above) – Sabiyaki.

(C) Chicken thigh (above) – Kashiwa.

(D) Petit onion (above) – Kotamanegi.

(E) Liver (above) – Chigimo. This was so huge that when it was served, I thought it was chicken meat. Haha. And it was creamy good!

(F) Chicken meatball (above) – Tsukune.

(G) Small aubergine (above) – Konasu.

(H) Tofu pouch (above) – Kinchaku. Instead of the usual rice cake (mochi) filling, Toriki’s version was of vegetables.

(I) Chicken gizzard (above) – Sunagimo.

(J) Quail egg (above) – Shiratama.

(K) Chicken skin (above) – Kawa. It was mentioned on the menu that it’s grilled till crispy. But I guess that’s where our definition of crispy don’t align. This was probably the only stick I didn’t really enjoy. Skin was really fatty. But that said, I finished everything. Ha.

(L) Cold tomato, Complimentary (above) – Hiyashi tomato.

(M) Wings with bones (above) – Tebayaki. And when this was served, chef Yasuhito Sakai san asked if I knew the proper way to eat. I shook my head. To which he took my plate, held the stick down with one hand, and pulled the bones out effortlessly in an upwards motion with his other hand. I watched in amazement. Haha

(N) Gingko nut (above) – Ginnan.

(O) Shiitake mushroom (above) – Shiitake.

(P) Chicken soup (above)

(Q) Green tea ice cream (above) – I was told to squeeze some lemon juice over my ice cream. Now, that’s something new. The effect the lemon juice had on the ice cream was almost akin to putting salt in milk.

2) Chicken tail, ‎¥270 (above) – Bonbochi.

3) Chicken with egg, ‎¥320 (above) – Chochin. When I was told to eat everything in one go, I was a little worried. I wasn’t confident I could fit the 2 yolks into my mouth. And it would be a disaster of the yolks broke outside of my mouth. But of course, my worries were unfounded. And I really enjoyed this dish. In fact, I noticed all the other (Japanese) patrons had also ordered this as an add-on to their courses.

It was a memorable 2.5 hours dinner. Especially because it had many ‘first’ for me. My first meal upon touching down in Japan for my first (and definitely not last) solo trip. =)

I was lucky to be seated directly opposite chef Yasuhito Sakai san’s work station at the counter even though the stacked plates that were placed in front of him blocked my view of the grill. I enjoyed watching him fanning hard away in a rhythmic manner. It was that which kept me entertained throughout my meal.

And I must had caught chef Yasuhito Sakai san by surprise when I promptly stood up to make my exit after making payment. Cause he hastily put down his fan just to pass me his business card. “Hope to see you again,” he said sincerely. I was genuinely touched.

I definitely recommend Toriki!

1-8-13 Kinshi, Sumida, Tokyo, Japan (東京都 墨田区 錦糸 1-8-13 小坂ビル)
+81 3 3622 6202, Tablelog
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 17:30 – 22:45 (L.O.)
Ambience: 7
Sat : 17:00 – 22:45 (L.O.)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2018.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Tokyo 2019.