Izakaya (居酒屋) are these wonderful places where you can leisurely eat and drink with friends for cheap. They’re like bars but with food so you can get the best of both worlds! My favourite of the lot is Torikizoku (my friends and I call it Toriki) because it’s so cheap and so good. EVERYTHING on the menu is 280yen (excluding tax). There are a few places that have the same price point but so far Torikizoku has the tastiest food and since it’s a chain, readily available in the main areas of Kansai, Nagoya and Tokyo.
They sell mainly yakitori and an assortment of other dishes that will go well with drinks such as edamame, meat stuffed peppers, chicken karaage and even rice dishes. The drink selection is pretty wide too, from whisky, cocktails, wine, beer and my favourite chu hai (Shochu mixed with Soda, also called Sours)! There are non-alcoholic options available if you don’t drink.
Each order is 2 skewers so if you want more than that tell them how many portions you want! There are some things I always order when I’m there and it’s their Beef Skewers and the Heart ‘tare‘ (dipping sauce used when grilling) skewers. I was skeptical at first when my friend encouraged us to try the Heart but it’s actually really good! Give it a try!
Their chicken wings, cabbage (free flow refills!) and pretty much everything on the menu is great. I’m getting hungry just thinking about those juicy beef cubes. Oh, and the crispy chicken skin….hmmm, heaven. Get a bunch of stuff and share with friends – it’s the best way to enjoy and try everything!
It’s a great place for parties and casual get togethers especially since they close late at 1 to 2AM. Toriki has been the backdrop for some of my fondest memories and it’s such a shame you can’t find an equivalent back in Singapore (we do have some but it’s just not the same).
Just be prepared for a long wait if you go on weekends, from 30 to even 50 minutes or more. But it’s no wonder that many file into Toriki outlets all over, because when the food is that good and yet so cheap you walk out with a big smile every time.