Best. Chicken. EVAR.

This is not me, it’s a quote from Michael Ruhlman’s blog post about Yakitori Totto, which was recommended to him by none other than his good buddy and best chef in the world, Thomas Keller. He gushes uncontrollably about the chicken here. Can anyone back this up? I want to go there now for many reasons, one of which being the fact that it’s one of those inconspicuous but neat places tucked away in a nondescript building and makes grown men cry with how good (and cheap) the food is.

Yakitori Totto
251 W. 55th St., New York, NY 10019
nr. Broadway

UPDATE: D’oh. I guess I’m late (like Ruhlman) to the game as I just noticed Kayoko’s already all over this joint.

OK. To make up for this dreaded double-post faux-pas, I humbly submit the following addendum to the theme of excellent chicken: NYMag follows Zak Pellacio (Fatty Crab and 5 Ninth) around Chinatown for their The Everything Guide to Chinatown and their first stop:

The grill cart on the corner of Division and Market. “Do you have chicken heart today?” he asks. We get two lamb skewers, and opt for a skewer of gizzards (2) instead of hearts. “This is grilled on real hardwood charcoal, which you can’t use even in a restaurant because there are so many problems with exhaust,” he says, explaining his preference. The lamb nuggets are spicy but tender. The gizzards: salty, cumin-flavored chew toys.

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4 Responses to “Best. Chicken. EVAR.”

  1. kayoko Says:

    i have two things to say:

    1. Yakitori Totto is ABSOLUTELY in my top 3 favorite restaurants in NYC (Grand Central Oyster Bar, Sugiyama, er, 360, being the other two… for now…). really feels like you’re in a tokyo izakaya in there, and the food is off the hook. Jim, Mother, Lydia, Shirley, Keisuke, anyone, back me up here.

    the boys grilling the yakitori behind the bar are cute to boot. woo-hoo! can’t say no to a night at Totto. they actually used to serve raw chicken there, which is a “delicacy” of sorts in japan, but i think it was sadly put to an end by evil NYC health inspection people (am assuming). raw chicken- YUM! coincidentally, Totto resides right above Sugiyama, so it’s basically culinary heaven on W. 55th street.

    2. Thomas Keller IS NOT the best chef in the world. dude, have you ever been to Sushi Kuni in Cupertino, CA?? anyone??? HELL-O! my next stop is definitely El Bulli though, in Espana. then, we’ll talk best chef in the world.

    although at the end of the day, all i really want is a bowl of rice and natto…

  2. kayoko Says:

    def still need to go to Fatty Crab. but Ssam Bar first. priorities.

  3. kayoko Says:

    ok, just one more thing. owners of Totto recently opened Tory’s on 52nd St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves. they’re open for lunch now, but quite honestly, a runny oyakodon for $13 is not my style. Pete Meehan recently reviewed it in the Times, and he mentioned that they served the raw chicken dish, but i’m not sure about now. need to try the place out for dinner sometime to get the scoop.

    Totto also owns Aburiya Kinnosuke,a robata grill joint, on 45th Street btwn 2nd and 3rd Aves, which is excellent (at least for lunch, when i’ve went). Bruni reviewed it about a year ago when it opened, and gave it decent marks.

    the interior of all three spots is very distinct and has a very “i’m in japan right now feeling”. but all in all, Totto prevails.

  4. tmonkey Says:

    OK, so the whole “Thomas Keller is the best chef in the world” was supposed to be ironic, hello.

    And Fatty Crab was pretty ok. Not amazing, not bad.

    And git over to Ssam Bar already! Chang got a James Beard nomination!

    Totto is on my list!

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