It might surprise you to hear me say this, but being forced to work in such a tourist driven part of New York City is not always a bad thing. Sure, a glut of fat mid-westerners means that Midtown will never have a shortage of TGI Friday’s, Sbarro’s and shrimp restaurants based on Tom Hanks movies. But an abundance of Japanese tourists and businesspeople create the same, albeit more positive, effect: Midtown is full of authentic Japanese food- and I’m not talking about sushi. I’m talking authentic kaiseki meals at places like Hakubai (in the Kitano Hotel), ramen at places like Menchanko Tei, amazing izakayas (after work drinking and eating spots) like Sake Bar Hagi, and the grill-centric Yakitori Totto, and its two sister spots Yakitori Torys and Aburiya Kinnosuke.
Traditionally yakitori (and the izakaya that often serve it) has always been an after work or late night snack type of thing, to accompany drinking, so it made sense that these places wouldn’t be open for lunch. Of course this is America, and my desire for meat on a stick knows no cultural boundaries! Many of us who work in Midtown have always lamented that these places weren’t open for lunch… and as a business owner, what’s more important? Authenticity, or paying the rent?
So, you can imagine my excitement when Yakitori Totto announced last month that they were now open for lunch. But Totto is not cheap-a single skewer costs $3+ at dinner time- and even though I had begged for this moment I secretly knew that it probably wouldn’t be cheap enough to quality as a true Midtown Lunch.
Yesterday, I walked over to 55th btw. B’way+8th for the moment of truth.