Tori Tei’s Busy Yakitori Station
Every time I’ve gone to Tori Tei 鸟亭 Japanese Yakitori restaurant, I’ve just gone to their branch across Gongti East. But their original branch is tucked inside Xinyuanli that’s so hidden, I’m not sure I would ever have found it without someone guiding the way. And considering how difficult to find its location is, I’m surprised that Tori Tei is no secret among the foodies of Beijing. Pretty much everyone I know has been to either one or both of their locations and now that I know how to get to the original branch, I gotta say that I much prefer it just because it’s that much more off-the-beaten-path. The extra effort makes your arrival feel that much more rewarding.
While I’ve heard foodies vehemently argue which Tori Tei branch is better than the other, you will find that both serve up authentic yakitori BBQ in a traditional Japanese environment for very reasonable prices. In short, both get the job done when it comes to yummy yakitori.
Coming in from the freezing cold weather outside, it’s very inviting to walk in to a cozy, lively and petite dining space where the air infused with grilled meat fumes (in a mouth-watering as opposed to a “too smokey my eyes hurt” way).
LDS Snapshots of the original Tori Tei Branch:
Jam-packed with yakitori lovers, most of whom are Japanese
Full-on Display of Sake Bottles
A Round of Hot Sake and Cold Beer Pairs Beautifully with Yakitori
The menu is bigger at the newly renovated location at Gongti, but I like the classic menu selection the original branch offers. It’s what I’m accustomed to and I have a tendency to become even more indecisive when I’m overwhelmed for choice.
And while I’m always open to trying new dishes, I’ve also got to order my staple favorites.
The Octopus with Wasabi (RMB 30) is a cold appetizer favorite. It’s texture is slimy, chewy and slippery and the wasabi kick limits your intake to one piece at a time. So although the portion doesn’t look huge, the small bowl is plenty to last you through the course of your dinner.
Tori Tei is yakitori heaven with each stick averaging about RMB 5 so don’t hold back when ordering and feel free to go to town on the menu selection.
I highly recommend the range of grilled chicken – everything from BBQ chicken heart, gizzard, liver, rinds, cartilage, wings to a full-on Chicken Leg. Keep in mind that the Chicken Leg (RMB 35) is massive and better for sharing as one leg could fill just one person up too quickly. I am also a big fan of the Chicken Meatballs (RMB 5 for a stick of three bulky balls).
The BBQ vegetables run anywhere from RMB 3-12 and there are more than 10 options ranging from Welsh Onion to Garlic, Hot Peppers and Corn. You can’t go wrong with Shiitake Mushroom (RMB 4) and Gingko Nut (RMB 4 for a string of nuts per skewer). Other favorites include the famous Asparagus Rolled with Bacon (RMB 10 per trio) and Japanese Quail Egg (RMB 5 per skewer of four).
New favorite dishes I discovered include traditional Japanese dish Natto with Raw Egg (RMB 15) – a tasteless sticky and stringy concoction that’s meant to be super healthy and amazing with soy sauce and rice. But I preferred to combine it with the massive portion of Deep-fried Agedashi Tofu (RMB 20), which you should dip in soy sauce anyway).
LDS Snapshots of Tori Tei Dinner Dishes:
Octopus with Wasabi (RMB 30)Natto with Raw Egg (RMB 15)Deep-fried Tofu (RMB 20)Radish Salad (RMB 12)Gingko Nut Yakitori (RMB 4 each)Chicken Ball & Shiitake Mushroom Yakitori (RMB 5 / RMB 4 each)BBQ Chicken Leg (RMB 35)BBQ Chicken Heart (RMB 5)Japanese Quail Egg & Asparagus Rolled Bacon (RMB 5 each)Beef Tongue Yakitori (RMB 15)
Review of Tori Tei Japanese Yakitori BBQ Restaurant: 8 Xinyuanli Zhongjie, 新源里中街8号; Tel: 6461-4513, 136-8153-7998, Open 5:30PM-1:00AM daily
Authentic Japanese Yakitori for very reasonable prices – no excuse to not go to town on…everything.
I recommend the massive Chicken Leg and Vegetable Yakitori, but I actually am most addicted to their traditional Japanese Dishes that you can order a la carte – try their Octopus with Wasabi and Natto with Raw Egg (to eat with soy sauce on rice).
The atmosphere is lively and full of Japanese clients, which makes it that much more legit in my opinion.
Service is friendly and dishes come quick.
Although you can most definitely afford to go to town on the menu, doesn’t mean you should overwork your stomach. Be careful not to overdo it when ordering. We ordered way too much because the waitress wasn’t able to tell me how many pieces of meat came in each skewer, but after scrolling through my photos above, you should get a better idea of their general portion size so you can order appropriate quantities. Instead of order a skewer per person, keep in mind that two can share a skewer as most come with 4+ pieces each. In retrospect, we should have ordered 1 of each type of skewer.
While Tori Tei gives a pretty authentic Japanese Yakitori dinner experience, I would also recommend Kagen and Timezone 8 for Japanese Yakitori and also Iki BBQ for awesome Korean BBQ.
We were walk-in customers without any prior reservations, but luckily snagged a couple seats at the bar. I would call ahead if you plan to come in a group bigger than 2 or 3.
Rating: (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being best)
- Food: 7
- Atmosphere: 7
- Service: 6
Overall Experience: 7