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Torien is the new expensive omakase-only yakitori on Elizabeth Street in Noho.  It's an offshoot of a similar place in Tokyo.

 

As I understand it, yakitori is supposed to be inexpensive and casual.  So a place like this is a reach.  The 15-course meals are $150 per person.

 

The local comparison has to be with Torishin, formerly the top yakitori in the City, which offers à la carte in addition to omakases that are much cheaper than Torien's.

 

The first thing to say is that Torien is clearly better.  They highly tout their supposedly special charcoal system, which supposedly permits much higher heats or something.  And I have to say that the grilled skewers had a silky smokiness (or smokey silkiness) beyond anything I'd experienced at Torishin or any other yakitori.

 

On the other hand -- and this was a surprise -- on the basis of my two meals there, I'd say that Torien's offerings are less esoteric, more "chicken", than Torishin's.  Very few truly odd bits.  I can see why they'd feel constrained to do that, but it's a disappointment:  much of the fun of a yakitori is the play of unexpected textures.  Nevertheless, it bears emphasizing that what they serve is of the highest quality, and rather amazingly delicious.

 

One final note:  bromakases are inherently less fun than funkier yakitories like say Totto.  That's just the way it is.  (Wonder why, BTW, I can complain about the patrons at bromakases and be understood not to be devaluing the food -- but not at a place like Bacarrat?)

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As I understand it, yakitori is supposed to be inexpensive and casual.

 

So was sushi at one time, and look where we are now.

 

They're on my radar, but not sure I'll take the $150 plunge without any odd bits.

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Other than the lack of chouchin, and the traditional tripling of the price, it doesn't seem very different than a meal at the original (depending on what chicken, charcoal, etc. they use, of course)

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