I for one, have been scouring Sri Hartamas for food and have tried some of the eateries here like Dirty Duck Naughty Babe, the Italian pizza place and another tasty Japanese place. Today, I find myself here in Toridoki, a Japanese franchise from Tokyo, that is a 4-months’ old baby. In Tokyo, there are already 3 branches. I was curious why Malaysia became the first Southeast Asia branch and Kuta Fusuya, the Manager in Toridoki, said that, perhaps there are many races in Malaysia. Kuta has been living in Malaysia for 4 years before becoming the manager here. They have hired a popular local chef, Joe who has made a name for himself in local Japanese restaurants since 1981, that would mean, many years before I was born! I felt compelled to praise the manager who is so systematic to have given us a printed menu for the first time, something rarely done by most restaurants. The food also came out one by one according to the recommended menu. The menu is changed every few months.
We can choose to sit on normal dining table, counter table or tatami mats right at the back without folding the legs (good news for people who cramp easily like me).
The Chinese name of Toridoki contains the word “chi” (chicken) because this restaurant’s USP lies in chicken. The signature dishes are Yakitori (Japanese grilled chicken satay) and also roasted whole chicken. The official logo is a chicken too.
The Yakitori is done using different parts of the chicken such as chicken breast, gizzard, thigh, wings, liver and every edible part of chicken.
Any order would come with a complimentary appetizer of the day which is subject to change from salads to today’s Potato Salad. The potato salad is quite tasty as it is made from mashed potatoes in a scoop mixed with carrots, onions, and also purple cabbage. The best part is that there was no overload of mayonnaise, the spoiler of any Japanese meal.
Konsai Salad (RM 18)
Next was the Konsai Salad (RM 18) which is root vegetable salad. To me, it is less vegetable except for the cabbage but more on potatoes. Calling all potato lovers out there, this is so for you! It contains orange potato/sweet potato, purple potato, lotus root, pumpkin, broccolis and carrots. On top, is a generous squeeze of mayonnaise on a bowl of carbs. Kota actually helped to grate fresh cheese on the top so you can feel the freshness of everything made here. This dish is unique and please do not order rice due to the heaviness of potatoes.
Nagaimo Garlic Butter (Japanese yam with garlic and butter) (RM 12)
After this heavy meal, we moved to Nagaimo Garlic Butter (Japanese yam with garlic and butter) (RM 12). When I first saw the name, I was wondering whether I would be served just plain butter blended with garlic which was a little silly of me! It turned out to be crispy yam made with Nagaimo Garlic Butter that is pan-fried mountain yam mixed with garlic powder, soya sauce and black pepper. The garlic makes it fragrant. Since I am on a diet and too health conscious, I refrained from eating too much of this. To me, it was nice to dip this in the sweet Toridoki sauce. Later, I had a second bite and felt it tasted a little like radish.
Teba Age (RM 10) Deep Fried Chicken Wing
No one dine in a chicken-based restaurant without trying the fried chicken which to me, is better than KFC. Kota told me this is KFC. So here comes the Teba Age (RM 10) Deep Fried Chicken Wing which is very crispy and fragrant. In fact, it was so crispy that one can easily break off the chicken wing. It was marinated with Japanese soy-based sauce and also Japanese pepper. Like most Japanese style, there is not much sauce. In fact, the Japanese prefers to have yakitori marinated with sea salt and do not like much sauce. I guess I am the only one who likes my food laden with a lot of sauce.
Sunagimo Ahijyo (RM 18)
Then, comes my favourite dish – Sunagimo Ahijyo (RM 18) which is special as it contains chicken gizzard with 8 kind of vegetables including garlic slices and black pepper. It is served in a hot plate with crispy thin French loaf at the side for dipping in the olive oil. It is meant to be oily to match with sake.
Maruyaki (RM 45)
After that, comes the famous dish of Maruyaki – grilled whole chicken (RM 45). It takes 1 full day of margination of 1 whole chicken with red wine and Bamboo salt because Bamboo Salt is less salty and healthy. We need to order in advance, minimum cooking time of 45 minutes. There is a special grilling machine with special glass to absorb the heat. It takes 1 hour of grilling with 6 burners on top and bottom of the place. The chicken is very fresh as it is ‘daily chicken’ (meaning it comes into the shop daily from the market) and is just below 1 kg, hence the small size. I almost got fooled as I mistaken it for a roasted bird! 3 types of sauces are served together that are Rock Salt, Gara Tare (Japanese spicy spice) and Ponzu (Japanese citron sauce with soya sauce and lemon). The result? The chicken has crispy skin on the outside, akin to Peking Duck and juicy meat on the inside. I felt that it was a little dry for my liking and would have done better with more moisture inside.
Yakitori-Tsukune (RM 11)
Yakitori is marinated using rock salt and pepper. The different parts of the chicken is grilled using sweet sauce till medium cooked then sweet sauce is added again. I prefer the yakitori than the maruyaki which is drier and less succulent.
Tsukune is my favourite chicken dish here because of its unique combination of chicken thigh, soft bone, chicken breast meat, onion and Japanese perilly leaves (ohba).
Yakitori– Negima (RM 5)
“Negi” means “leek” so naturally this is chicken thigh with leeks grilled to perfection, resulting in tender loving cared chicken.
Yakitori – Toridoki (RM 8)
Toridoki contains chicken thigh wrapped in chicken skin, chicken breast wrapped in chicken skin and a repeat of these. To me, I will still go for Toridoki as I dislike chicken breast.
Tamago (RM 14)
My friend, Ru Xyn was so eager to eat Tamago so finally we ordered this. Compared to the tamago I am used to see in Korea. They are usually cold but to my pleasant surprise, this Tamago is served hot with smoke coming out. It is made fresh whenever customers order it.
Matsu Ni (RM 18)
This is chicken intestines with gizzards and also, ovary that look like chicken balls, were served in a mini pot. When my friend heard there are ovary inside, they dared not touch the meat parts anymore. There are also a few slices of tofu on top.
Cheese Yaki Onigiri (RM 12)
This is actually camembert cheese with grilled rice balls. Frankly, I am not a big fan of rice in big amount so onigiri is small enough with less than the normal amount of rice, of so I believe. There is camembert cheese with very fine chicken slices in the middle of the onigiri. The garnishing is very beautiful whereby the 2 onigiri is arranged like a leave.
I was so full after eating onigiri that I told Kuta not to bring anymore onigiri. He said next dish is dessert and there is “surely extra stomach for dessert.” I chuckled.
Houjicha Pudding (RM 10)
This pudding is made from Houjicha (a certain part of the green tea). The Houjicha green tea leaves are boiled and strained and the juice is used to make the pudding. Gelatine and fresh cream is then added. Finally, caramel is added on top and burnt slightly. According to Chef Joe, Houjicha is good for the stomach as it cleanses it the way green tea does.
This is the leaf that is used to make this pudding: