Date of review: October 30, 2014 | Reviewed by: Esther Wong
Away from the usual hustle and bustle of Central, Toritama is located on quiet Glenealy. The restaurant itself is small, limited to bar seating around the semi-open kitchen area, with a small private room in the back able to accommodate seven to nine guests. The interior is filled with dark woods, lending a modern ambience when paired with the dimmed lighting. Clientele is mixed, with clear fans of the original Tokyo yakitori restaurant, as well as those in search of new eats in the city.
Serving up different cuts of chicken, the restaurant handily provides a detailed anatomical guide on the back of the menu for the uninitiated, pinpointing exactly what cut of meat you’ll be getting. The one-page a la carte menu lists items in both English and Japanese, although there is also the option of seven-, ten- and 12-skewer set meals, which include a rice bowl, salad, and dessert, and can be tailored to your taste preferences. We begin with a selection of four homemade pickles (oshinko), which help to whet our appetites. A small dish of grated daikon topped with a raw quail egg appears – to be eaten on its own, or used as an accompaniment for the skewers. The chicken meatball skewer (tsukune) arrives first, freshly grilled; the exterior is golden with a hint of sweetness, while the meat retains its juiciness and is mixed with some soft bone to give more of a bite. A guilty treat, the chicken skin (kawa) could have used more time on the grill to help render away a little more of the fat. The thigh with leeks (negima) on the other hand, had a perfect balance of flavours and textures with the ingredients alternating in order on the skewer. At yakitori joints, the chicken wing (tebasaki) is a very telling indication of the chef’s mastery of the grill – although a more ‘common’ dish, here the meat from the wing is half cut off the bone, ensuring a more even cooking time and making it easier to eat. Our favourite of the evening with the chicken oyster (soriresu) – a round piece of meat found near the chicken’s backbone – that was incredibly juicy and had a pleasant umami flavour. To round out the skewers, we got our fill of vegetables with the Japanese green pepper (shishito) and ginko nut (ginnan), when grilled, allowed the natural flavours to shine. A selection of non-grilled items are available, such as grilled garlic with tamari soy sauce, and chicken and egg rice bowl. For dessert lovers, there is only one offering: soy sauce ice cream.
Toritama takes pride in their Japanese drink offerings, as evidenced in their wide selection of sakes (80 different types), whiskies and wines. Sake bottles range from HK$300 to HK$8,000, although a select few are available by the glass at approximately HK$50-$80.
Attentive and polite, staff at Toritama exude Japanese hospitality, making diners feel as though they are family.
A filling meal for two ordering from the a la carte menu and including drinks comes to approximately HK$1,000, which we find to be quite reasonable. Depending on how hungry you are, you may consider one of the osusume courses, priced at HK$288 for the seven-skewer meal, HK$388 for 10 skewers, and HK$$588 for 12 skewers.