Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Soba Totto - Review

Soba Totto - Recommended
211 E 43rd St #1F, New York 10017
At 3rd Ave
Phone: 212-557-8200

I've been wanting to check out Soba Totto for a while - a soba and yakitori joint from the owners of our favorite Yakitori Totto. Porthos introduced me to real soba when Honmura Ann was still around and it was quite a what the f moment. Soba noodles that were light with great texture and felt great during and after eating. However, since then my soba experiences have never reached that pinnacle. So, how does Soba Totto hold up? Soba is good, but the yakitori is the winner although not as good as Yakitori Totto. Overall, I give the restaurant an 84/100.

My Menu

1) Tako Waza- Highly Recommended
2) Maguro Zuke - Recommended
3) Kawa (chicken skin) - Recommended
4) Hatsu (heart) - Highly Recommended
5) Seseri (neck) - Recommended
6) Bonchiri (tail) - Highly Recommended
7) Tsukune Tare (chicken meatball with quail egg) - Highly Recommended (must have)
8) Chicken Oyster - Recommended
9) Eringi - Highly Recommended
10) Kuro Buta Karashi Lemon - Highly Recommended
11) Enoki Bacon - Highly Recommended
12) Kobe Beef Gyutan (Tongue) - Recommended
13) Tempura Soba - Highly Recommended
14) Tamago Toji Soba - Recommended
15) Curry Soba - Recommended
16) Oyakodon - Highly Recommended (must have)
Red Bean and Taro - Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Raw octopus that is tremendously tender and sweet. Mixed with soy and wasabe. Great with a sweeter sake - our choice of the night was a Dasai Nigori.
2) Large cubes of tuna that had a decent texture and great flavor. A little too cold in the middle for me though - needed more time to let it come to room temperature. One of our diners said this was her favorite dish of the night.
3-12) I was expecting the yakitori to be the same as Yakitori Totto - unfortunately while it's still uber tasty, Yakitori Totto is still better. For some reason the yakitori here wasn't as tender, juicy or even the right temperature - I wanted it warmer. With all that said, it's still very tasty and way better than Yakitori Taisho.
13) Cold tempura noodles that have a nice al-denteness to it. Dipped in the dipping broth, the noodles have a nice clean taste. Tempura served on the side is quite nice as well - crispy and flavorful.
14) Flavorful rich broth consisting of egg and chicken. Noodles are a little overcooked in my oinion. Noodles reminded me more of ramen...
15) Curry broth is very pungent and tastes amazing, but the noodles have the same texture as the soba with egg.
16) Rice, onions, eggs, and chicken over rice. This is sick and much better than the oyakodon at Yakitori Totto. Sweet, savory, and just a great texture.
17) Basically, like the Chinese sweet red bean soup served after a meal. This was more delicate and flavorful and filled with what looked like taro and some dumplings. Great light dessert.

Overall Restaurant Experience (84/100)

  • Food 8.6/10 – Solid to very good Japanese food. Pass on the hot soba and go with the cold soba and yakitori.
  • Service 6.5/10 – Waitress was very friendly and the hostess was very accommodating. However, it took about 20-30 minutes to get our soba dishes. We only got it after complaining. This place is much bigger than Yakitori Totto, so they're probably not used to dealing with that many people. I'm guessing the yakitori may have sat a while, which could have affected the temperature and texture of the yakitori.
  • Atmosphere 8.5/10 – Looks like Yakitori totto, but much larger. Color palate was basically dark brown and some light gray. The place did not feel cramped at all and had plenty of room between tables. Crowd consisted of mostly Asians (groups and couples) with the majority sounding like they were Japanese. Got there at 6pm on a Friday for 5 people with no reservations and was seated promptly.
  • Price 8.5/10 – Price was great for the amount and quality of food. All of the food including 2 carafes of sake were $50 per person including tip. Great value...
Closing Comments
I would definitely recommend Yakitori Totto over this place, but Soba Totto is much easier to get into without a reservation. Intersting note - Soba Totto is right next to Sakagura and across from Sushi Yasuda. Something tells me a trifecta is calling - you knoweating a mini meal at all three restaurants in one night. Makes sense, right?

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