Tori Jiro [Watertown]

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon hiding from the rain at Tori Jiro in Watertown yesterday. Part of the complex of shopping and food establishments that have sprung up in the Arsenal Yard, Tori Jiro is an izakaya that offers a variety of yakitori, street food style small plates, and chicken based ramen. It also has a fairly extensive sake and whiskey list, in addition to a cocktail program (and a small beer list). We focused on the yakitori and other grilled meats for the most part on this trip.

The restaurant was on the quiet side when we arrived around 3pm. One large group at a corner table was wrapping up and a couple other patrons were scattered at two tops. We sat at the bar. This is our second visit, after a really great dinner on a busy Friday night back in October. BF stuck with Sapporo drafts as his beverage of choice ($8) and I went with 150ml carafes of Dassai 45 sake ($18). To start our food order, we got some of their Addicting Cucumbers (cold cucumber salad with yuzu chile reduction and sesame - $5), Kaiyaki (scallops grilled on the shell - $16), and Ankimo (Monkfish liver with ponzu, maple radish, and scallions - $15). We also ordered some white rice ($6). These were all nicely prepared and promptly served for the most part (the ankimo took a little while, relative to the other dishes). The cucumbers were not overly spicy and I think I detected some bonito smokiness in the glaze. The scallops came on a little open flame grill and we were directed to give them a couple of minutes on each side before adding the lemon and eating. These were wonderful! The monkfish liver was rich, and the maple radish and ponzu cut through that very well. A typical preparation, but well executed.

We then worked our way through many of the grilled skewers, starting with the King Oyster mushroom ($4 each) which was seasoned lightly with salt. We also ordered Sasami (Chicken Breast Tender - $3.50 each, with yuzo kosho (an additional $.50 per skewer)), Momo (Chicken Thigh - $3.50 each), and Tsukune (Chicken Meatball - $4 each, with Tare and Egg Yolk (an additional $1.00 per skewer)). The chicken breast was moist and a bit salty between its seasoning and the additional yuzu paste. The chicken thigh was very juicy. The meatballs were flavored with some ginger and the tare and egg yolk worked well with them. I also dipped some of the mushroom into it.

I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to try some other chicken parts pass me by, so I ordered the chicken heart ($4), chicken cartilage ($3.50), and hatsumoto ($4 - described as “end of heart” on the specials board. I think I have read on line that it includes the aorta.). These were all very well prepared. My favorite was the hatsumoto, which comes brushed with tare. Sometimes they have gizzard on the specials board, but they were out of it on this visit. I am hoping at some point they get chicken skin.

We rounded out with a few skewers of pork and beef - pork belly ($4.50 each), pork jowl ($5 each), beef tongue ($8 each), and hanger steak ($5 each). These were seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The pork belly was juicy and just fatty enough. The jowl had a bit more of a chewy texture, but not overcooked. The tongue also had a bit of chew, but a good beefy flavor. Our favorite was the hanger steak, which was tender and had a minerality in its flavor. Really good.

I would have liked to have had a few more of the vegetable skewers (I really enjoyed the grilled okra on our previous visit), but I was full to bursting at this point. We finished up our round of drinks and made our way out into the dark, drizzly evening and waiting Lyft. I am looking forward to coming back!


Thanks. Mouthwatering pictures.


Great report, thanks!


Nice report! I’ve been meaning to try this place, but Arsenal is a bit of a pain to get to from Quincy with no car.

I live in Waltham and it’s still a pain to get to! But, I also hate driving. I think the place is fun. The preps are pretty basic (beyond, you know, prepping organ meats for some of the skewers), but it is a good place to have a few beverages with some small plates. The service was also very friendly and attentive, which always helps!


Great review Amanda and we’ll certainly try this soon. Ponzu BTW is called an Izakaya but doesn’t really have these things (I was there last week for the first time). I had a nice ricecake and pork dumpling soup and my partner had tofu stew and both were great, Folks are nice and prices reasonable. I’m eating a lot in Waltham these days (Gustazo, Penang). Others you like?

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We were frequent flyers at The Gaff and Guido’s, which have both closed. I liked the wok hei on the chow fun we had at Penang, but thought the beef rendang was only ok (was hoping for something more complex in flavoring than my own, although the portion was fantastic). Hoping to go back at some point again though. We used to go to Ponzu a lot a number of years ago, but then we moved off of Moody St. and over to the Lexington side of town. I still like Amuleto for drinks and tacos. Joco’s is reliable for bar food and beer. Bistro 781 didn’t do a whole lot for me, although I like the build your own Bloody Mary concept for their brunch menu. We will give DaVinci and Deep Ellum a shot once they are more open/more established. Otherwise, we’re still doing a lot of eating and drinking at home (as compared to life before March 2020).


Thanks. What do you like on the Lexington side. I’ve found this a food desert. there is the dosa place on lexington ave itself.

Thanks for the review! We had a good dinner at Bourbon & Buttermilk the other day which I haven’t written up yet. However, walking around Arsenal Yards, the family was captivated by the conveyor belt sushi place and made us promise we’d try it. Has anyone ventured in? Robot waiters, tableside drops of some sort of prizes…


I believe it was written up favorably by Devra First. After my spring onion experienced Yo!Sushi at the Copenhagen airport, he’s all about checking out the local place. Maybe we’ll have time next weekend. Will report back if we do.


You’ve found Waltham a food dessert or just the Lexington side?

The North (Lexington) side is, at least from the high school on up to the town line. There’s Grassfields in the Wal-Lex strip mall, a Dunkin Donuts, a Burger King, a Panera, a Chipotle…and I think that’s it. Even McDonald’s and Friendly’s closed. When I lived about 2 miles down the road, I could at least walk to Main Street and Moody Street, where the bulk of the restaurant are.

I’ve lived in Waltham since 1997 and never set foot in Grassfields. Is it any good?

Nothing really. How is the dosa place on Lexington?

I’ve been once when we first moved here - 7-ish years ago. It is a complete throwback to something like a Bennigan’s from the 80s. Dark, green and brass decor, a loaf of bread on the table, very “old school” type dishes, a very older clientele (nothing wrong with any of that) . . . so if you’re into that retro aspect you should check it out.

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It managed to survive the pandemic, so I guess that says something. It is within walking distance of me, so perhaps a visit is in order at some point. Thanks!

How is Penang these days? I was a fan of the Boston one back in the day, but tried Waltham early on when the opened, and it was really very poor. Guessing if you go there regularly, they may have fixed that?

Just the Lexington side. Moody street is pretty good. I haven’t been to Grassfields but my partner doesn’t think much of it though it is our closest restaurant. Bonfire is the Indian place and the chana masala isn’t bad.

I got take out from Penang during covid and it was fine. I have frequented the Ctown Penang and they compare but haven’t been for a while. Amanda, Bonfire is OK and a reasonable choice close to you. The dosas and chana masala were good, meat dishes just OK. I would be interested in your take on Grassfields if you go. In the same strip mall Dion’s wine store has Dom’s sausages in their freezer.


We went back to Tori Jiro this past Friday, since we were in the area (RMV stuff. Fun. Not.). At 5:20, they were already sold out of the offal skewers (heart, gizzard, etc.). While I was disappointed, I am happy that they still have it and are clearly moving it! We tried some new things, along with some past favorites, on this trip.

We started with Salmon “Kushi Katsu” - breaded, fried skewers of salmon with mayonnaise and, I think, Bulldog sauce (or a copycat of it), along with cabbage and grated onion. This was perfectly fried. Not greasy. The fish was nice and moist. We followed this with a couple handrolls - spicy hamachi and grilled eel. My partner very much enjoyed his hamachi. I liked the flavor of the eel, but wish it could have been served more quickly, as it had cooled somewhat and the nori had gone a bit chewy. That being said, the grill flavor imparted to the eel was quite good. If they ever decided to put that on an unagi don, it would be fantastic.

While we were eating, I had some sake, Joto Daiginjo, which was new to me. Lots of ripe melon flavors in this one and it paired well with all the food. BF had Sapporo drafts.

We shifted to vegetable skewers - shishito, which came topped with finely shaved bonito flakes, okra, eggplant, and shiitake mushrooms. Other than the bonito flakes on the pepper, the seasoning was pretty simple, which allowed the grill flavor to come through. It does look like they are using binchotan to fuel the grill. All the vegetables were great. My favorite was the okra, which was tender and had no traces of any slime. This is a good place to get those who are reluctant to try it.

We moved on to meats. BF got the tsukune, chicken breast with yuzu kosho, and pork belly. I got chicken thigh, tebasaki (chicken wings), and the lamb chop. BF enjoyed all his items, but felt the chicken breast was a touch dry tonight. I enjoyed all mine as well. It was hard to pick a favorite here.

To close out the evening, while we finished our drinks, we ordered a skewer of the hangar steak, the beef tataki, and the curry fries. The hangar steak was great! Nice chew to the meat. The beef tataki was visually impressive, if a bit over dressed for my tastes. There was a soy dressing that I would have preferred on the side that seemed to have celery as a component. I thought it dominated over the meat, which texturally was great. They curry fries were the sleeper hit. Piping hot, with a nice warmly spiced, but not spicy hot, flavor, I would cheerfully come back and get the rice bowl version of this.

The menu now notes that A5 Miyazaki beef is available. We didn’t order, but I thought I’d pass that along.

When we arrived, it was about half full, but at the two hour mark, as we were leaving, there was the beginning of a line out the door. So, be aware that if you prefer to eat later that there may be a wait. We tend to be early eaters these days, so less of a concern for us. I am looking forward to our next trip back!


Your pics are fantastic, I had to cycle through them twice! :drooling_face: I want all of it…