Yeah, that's raw chicken alright. SmSh chokes down a meal at buzzed about yakitori restaurant Torishou.
Eat It is a regular feature that cuts to the core of a given restaurant's menu, highlighting a specialty, favorite, or otherwise good thing to eat.
Sometime between the raw chicken tenderloin and the arrival of the raw chicken breast, my mind flipped.
The tiny pink pieces of tenderloin, fringed with a thin white layer from where it had been “cooked”, were just fine; they tasted like an inoffensive meat or seafood that would sit on top of a poke bowl. A little Dynamite Sauce and no one would be the wiser. The rest of the table kept their distance, leaving me to finish the plate of raw meat, and I did, happily.
And then the breast arrived, large slices with big, naked patches of raw pink flesh.
I tried one slice. It did not compute. I had a deep resistance, rooted in many years of salmonella fears, rooted in food safety classes, rooted in what seems like common sense, and all of that came rushing to the forefront as soon as the raw breast hit my tongue. I choked it down.
Eating raw chicken doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not from the health standpoint, mind you; the argument made by the owner of the restaurant, and ostensibly the many chicken sashimi places in Japan, is that bacteria are usually a problem on the surface of the meat, so by cooking the surface, but only the very surface, you eliminate the problem. And not from the taste standpoint. There is nothing offensive about the taste. It is, after all, just chicken. No, my argument is that it’s a high psychological hurdle — you’ve got all kinds of hang-ups, and Western ideas about what is and is not safe to eat — to jump without getting any revelatory pay-off.
Also, you can save space for the undeveloped eggs. Yay!
is a tiny yakitori restaurant on Fuxing Xi Lu, opposite the Boxing Cat Brewery
, that has been making waves in the Chinese food media since they opened at the end of September. The space, which used to be Xinjiang restaurant Miss Ali
(since moved to Jing’an), is tight and the queues are long, and still, you should go, because apart from the fireworks going on with the chicken sashimi, there is an interesting menu of “rare” chicken parts (as in how many there are each day, not the degree to which they are cooked) and some very good regular yakitori. It’s on that “rare” menu that you’ll find the undeveloped chicken eggs, which come to the table still attached to the backbone, looking like a bunch of marbles of varying sizes stuck to a spine and tasting like yolk and fear (what was that hard bit?), as well as delightful things like “a specific part of the thigh”, which turns out to be a wonderful, moist cube of boneless meat, and “white liver” -- regular chicken livers that are just a little fattier than usual.
Other choices from that menu: the tips of chicken wings; the meaty end of chicken wings; chicken aorta; three types of chicken skin. Other choices from the sashimi menu: chicken heart; chicken liver; chicken gizzard.
Needless to say, Torishou is Advanced Yakitori, but not everything is so challenging. On my recent visit, three of the best plates of food I had were fully cooked: the chicken “meatball”, which is more like a skewered patty, grilled until it chars on the outside; a delicious and warming chicken congee; and grilled rice cakes, charred on the outside, sticky and gooey on the inside, with nary a feather in sight.
There is also a course for beginners, as it were, which I will probably take as a remedial exercise next time I go.
Getting onto that track is easy: just tell them when you sit down you want your chicken fully cooked.
Yakitori Torishou is at 133 Fuxing Xi Lu.