Friday, August 14, 2009

Torisuzu, Ningyocho (とり鈴)

It's probably not a good idea to read too much into names, but in this case I can't help it. What do you make of a restaurant called 'Chicken Bell'? This seemed funnier when I was there, but now that I think about it, this is probably a combination of the tendency to name a majority of chicken places 'Chicken [ ]' and the owners name. He could be Belltree or something. In the same way, a lot of eel places feature names that start with 'U' or 'Una' (the beginning of 'unagi'), even though the names don't make that much sense in total. If I ever open a chicken restaurant, I think I'll call it Chicken Jon.

Torisuzu is this kind of place - a little dark, a little atmospheric, two private rooms, a weird two-level system that makes the master and waitress constantly call into an intercom for drinks and raw materials to be sent from elsewhere, and special deals since it was the Friday during Obon.

It's also this kind of place - some nice pottery including this bent pot all set to receive your used bamboo skewers (from the frid chickins) and this cute carrot plate. I am, it must be said, a sucker for plates with little bright vegetables on them. I've admitted it to myself over time.

The food looks kind like the below - water eggplant in a little sauce (much more forgettable than those I had earlier in the week in Tsukishima), attractively-cut sanma (the brightness and meatiness of the colors are almost unsettling, aren't they?), and chicken tataki (despite the dashi jelly, which tasted for all the world like beef jerky to me, this was kinda gross since it included a lot of tendon bits and muscle casings. Raw chicken should be soft and smooth for optimium enjoyment...).

Getting into cooked food, here's a 'plum grill', piece of chicken tenderloin barely cooked, then topped with sour plum paste, shaved dried fish and green onions. Pretty good. Frid chickin was really juicy (which means melted fat, I know) and the crust had an appealingly crunchy graininess.

This being a chicken place, they had yakitori. Just a few samples. Their version of meatballs are on the left and were interesting because they were light and herby yet strongly flavored. I would almost think there was some liver in the mix, now that I think about it. Other than that, you've got a stick of chicken butts and another of 'head', which in yakitori-speak thankfully means just 'regular chicken meat'.

Nothing wrong here, and pleasant considering that the yakitori was half-price to compensate for the deadness of the evening (for a US comparison, this night was a little like the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving). The intercom and dumbwaiter system didn't work that well, and the waitress was perpetually stressed as a result, but it was an OK place and a nice excuse to put another pin in the map for Ningyocho.

Hey Belltree, nice chicken nuggets ya got there.

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