What is Niwatori? Smooth Obturator called it a “chicken place,” so that probably explains why I never jumped at the chance to eat here. Chicken is definitely not something I get excited for. I rarely order chicken when I dine at fancy restaurants, because I feel like chicken is just so ordinary. I woudln’t want to eat anything at a restaurant that I could eat at home.
DonBon was in town for some business so he called up his cousins, myself and Smooth Obturator to see if we were free for dinner. I figured if I was going to drive an hour to get to the South Bay that we might as well eat around there too. Finally, I relented and agreed to go to the “chicken place” since my brother said it was quite special. They’re specialty is Jidori chicken, which to this day I’m still not quite sure what that means.
Asazuke lightly pickled vegetables
After making all our selections, we noticed a dearth of greenery. I just love pickled vegetables. I can eat them plain, but of course they taste best eaten with rice and meat. Yum! These were more on the salty pickled side (as opposed to sour or sweet) but had some bite to it with thin slivers of ginger that were pickled too.
Cold Chawanmushi chilled egg custard, shrimp, crab meat
I was quite impressed with this, mostly because it was pretty chilly! But it was very smooth with decent sized chunks of fresh sweet shrimp and crab. I really liked the jelly stuff on top which was probably some congealed broth or sauce of sorts. It added a bit of sweet soy taste.
Toriwasa sliced seared chicken
You’re probably horrified by this dish, but it is in fact lightly seared and essentially raw chicken slices. It’s served like sashimi, with a side of soy sauce and wasabi. Seriously, it was so simple but pretty darn good. I mean, it probably tasted like nothing, but that was the beauty of it. The chicken tasted soo clean, no strange stinky raw chicken odor. You could have been eating fish for all you knew. Garnished with a sprig of sprout, green onions, nori, a dab of wasabi, and then lightly dipped in soy sauce made for a very special bite.
Black Angus Beef Tataki seared & sliced beef, ponzu
Unfortunately, this could not compare to the toriwasa. First of all, the beef was too chewy. It was either sliced too thick and/or was just not good quality. The light smokiness on the outside was nice, but couldn’t make up for the chewiness.
Nankotsu Karaage deep fried chicken cartilage
I’m not a huge fan of eating the strange parts of a chicken, the knee, the elbow, the gizzard, etc. But slather some tasty batter on it and fry it up to a golden crisp? Ok, I’m in! DonBon and Smooth Obturator really seemed to find a new favorite in this one. The cartilage had just the right amount of crunch.
Nasudengaku deep fried eggplant, sweet miso
I’ve had better preparations elsewhere. It needed more salt.
Potato Salad breaded and fried
Whoever thought you could deep fry potato salad?? I didn’t get to take a picture of this before it was broken down, but it was literally a giant fried ball the size of a softball. It was crispy on the outside, and soft and mayo-ee on the inside. It made for a pretty rich sinful bite. I could barely finish my quarter of the ball. I could imagine Triple F really liking this one, haha.
Tebasakiyaki grilled chicken wings sprinkled with sea salt
I thought the chicken wings at Nanbankan were pretty good, but these were far better. They were so moist and juicy with a nice crisp on the outside complimented by a delicious sprinkling of sea salt and light squeeze of lemon. Seriously, sea salt can make all the difference.
Tori “Dokkan” Negi deep fried seasoned chicken, green onion
These were pretty tasty, but the high batter to meat ratio became overwhelming after a while. They could have been a little more crispy too. I really liked taking a nice helping of the green onions with a big piece. It really brightened up each bite. I like onions, ok? Dumpling Man has to deal, haha.
Tori Nanban deep fried seasoned chicken, tartar sauce
These were probably a bit much after the previous dish which was pretty similar. This one was just slathered in tartar sauce instead. It was almost, if not just as heavy as the deep fried potato salad. It was a difficult dish to finish off because there was just so much flavor. Next time, we’ll order one or the other. Maybe having the tartar sauce on the side would be good too.
Chuka Soba hot ramen noodle soup
Smooth Obturator keeps talking about chicken ramen. He says its very clean tasting. What I love about ramen is the deep flavor from the long simmered pork bones, so the chicken version was quite the opposite. It tasted lighter and cleaner. Perhaps it was bordering on bland, but I think that’s the intention. Overall, it was good, but not something I’d have a hankering for.
Tamago Gohan raw egg of free range chicken with rice
And now, the finale to our delicious meal, cracking a raw egg on top of rice. I’m sure many of you are still shuddering from the essentially raw chicken slices, but do not fret, I’m still here, right? I’ll have to give it up to the Japanese for perfecting simplicity. The basic ingredients of rice, a raw egg, seaweed, bonito flakes, and lightly sweetened soy sauce made for an incredibly delicious dish. I was in love!
How does it all come together you ask? Let Triple T demonstrate…
TaDa!! It looks ooey gooey from the raw egg, which added such a unique texture. All the other components made for a very unique dish. I am tempted to try and recreate this at home, but I’m not sure where the eggs I buy at the store have come from. That is the key here. Obviously they obtain their chickens and eggs from known trusted purveyors so are confident to serve dishes in this way.
Niwatorri was truly a special experience. I love to try new things, especially when you know it’s supposed to be good. Smooth Obturator and I hail from the same bloodline of fatass-ness so I can trust his judgement when it comes to food. I am glad DonBon enjoyed dinner here, but it was back to the land of bbq ribs and brisket for him. The menu is quite extensive, so even if you don’t like any of the things I tried, there’s a bunch more things to get. If you don’t like chicken, don’t even bother. But who doesn’t like chicken?? I noticed on some dismal reviews on yelp, one from a guy who dinged the place for not serving sushi:
“SO disappointed there isn’t one bite of sushi on niwattori’s menu! i guess i shouldn’t expect every japanese restaurant to have sashimi or sushi on the menu, so that’s just a note to anyone who makes the same wrong assumption.”
Uh, seriously!? R.S.M., you are a TOOL! I am NOT a tool, and I’m telling you to give the place a try! If you don’t believe me, you should believe all the Japanese patrons that dine there. It was teeming with them that night, as it is most nights per Smooth Obturator and Triple T. Something about the proximity to the Toyota headquarters.
1231 Cabrillo Ave
Torrance, CA 90501