Japan-Famous Skewer Restaurants are Coming to the U.S.

Japanese mini-kebab chains are coming to the States to preach the skewer gospel.
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Toriko NY spread with kushiyaki skewers

They say everything tastes better on a stick, and as lovers of corn dogs and cake pops, we’d have to agree. One foreign standout of the skewer tradition is kushiyaki, the meat-on-a-stick meal usually found in Tokyo’s izakayas. Now it’s landed stateside with a wave of spots imported straight from Japan.

This spring, Toritetsu—a chain with 50 outlets in Japan—unveiled its first North American outpost just outside Chicago in Arlington Heights, where it doles out cuts both familiar (chicken thighs) and adventurous (gizzards!). Last summer, New York City’s West Village got a yakitori tasting menu, courtesy of Toriko, which has locations across Tokyo and Osaka. (Skewers 101: Yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers, is the oldest and most common form of kushiyaki.) This fall, the Michelin-starred team behind Japan’s Torishiki restaurant debuted an 18-seat yakitori chef’s counter called Torien on the Lower East Side. And Greater Boston will get in on the skewer action later this year when Tori Jiro opens its first U.S. location in Watertown’s Arsenal Yards development. We’re down with any trend that keeps charcoal-fired yumminess going even after grill season has ended.