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!