Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Yakitori Tori Shin + Humans of New York
One of the things I was going to miss out on if I left to Cameroon was A.'s birthday, but I decided to go anyway because, you know, "it's Africa." Still, I wanted to make sure I fulfilled my loving girlfriend duties before I left and that I set up some surprises for him while I was away.
For over a year, A. had been wanting us to have dinner at Tori Shin, a popular Japanese yakitori restaurant by his apartment, but we just never pulled the trigger when it came to treating ourselves to a fancy meal. Plus, it's so full during dinner time that it's not a place that you can just drop into on a whim; reservations are the way to go. But like A. mentioned, you know it's a good spot when the tables are filled by Japanese men in suits so I booked us a table for the Friday night before I went away, got dressed up, left our phones at home, and walked on over to the restaurant for my first taste of yakitori. A., who's been raving about his dining experience in Tokyo for the past three years, was excited about what was to come.
I didn't know much about what to expect, but the night was just incredible. He and I spent the next couple of hours just being fed a stream of skewered meats - mostly chicken - and vegetables grilled to perfection and sipping plum wine. While you can order set entreés from the menu, part of the delight of yakitori restaurants is that you can choose to be surprised, which we did with the Chef's Omakase menu ($55 per person). The chef cooks up whatever he wants - a selection of fresh meat and produce with a few surprises - and you just decide to go along for the ride. It's not for picky eaters (though you can tell your waiter what you absolutely won't eat like, say, organs), but it makes for such an awesome dining experience.
You'd think 10 tiny plates couldn't fill you up, but by the time they wrapped up dinner with chicken and eggs over rice, soup, and then green tea sorbet for dessert, we just could not handle any more food and walked home happy and dizzy from our impending food coma.
As for A.'s other surprises, I had a box of his favorite cookies from Levain Bakery delivered on his birthday as well as a copy of Tumblr blogger Brandon Stanton's beautiful photography book Humans of New York, a New York Times best seller that happened to be released on A.'s day. We both enjoy following Stanton's work on Facebook every day and never cease to marvel at a) how many stories are lurking within all these strangers around us and b) how Stanton gets them to share something so intimate with someone they've never met. One of my favorite quotes was given by the woman below who said, "When I was 20, I made a plan to get a good job and be secure. Now I'm 35, and I need a plan to be happy."
Images: handi-eats.blogspot.com and facebook.com