Friday, January 14, 2011

Village Yokocho

The Wolfpack (aka the Rook sisters and Pat) were on a mission for Japanese tapas, so the only action to take was to head to Village Yokocho is the East Village. This Japanese joint has a seriously extensive menu--pages and pages long--that is filled with all sorts of delicious dishes.

Of course we started off the meal with some sake. We went with a chilled bottle of Momokawa Organic Gingo Sake, which is described as being “fruit forward and lush with a delicate rice aroma and a clean finish.” I obviously like anything lush, and Momokawa is one of my favorite brands of sake--the flavors were nice, crisp, and clean. 

We also ordered some cabbage kim chi and cucumber kim chi. I'm not the biggest kim chi fan, but I thought the classic cabbage one was done pretty well. I preferred the cucumber kim chi, which still had a nice spice to it but wasn't overloaded with vinegar. The crispness of the cucumber was also very refreshing.

Next up was baked batter octopus balls with bonito flakes and dried seaweed. I have been waiting to try octopus balls ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain indulge in them on his Japanese episode of No Reservations. They were awesome. When they arrived the bonito flakes were dancing around like little gauzy flags on a windy day, enticing us to pop those tasty little balls in our mouth.

Chicken skin yakitoro is a must at Village Yokocho. The skin is one of the best parts of the chicken, so who wouldn't love lots of pieces of chicken skin on a stick? Seriously. It's crispy, fatty, and just plain delicious. We also ordered chicken with scallions yakitoro--the tender pieces of chicken and charred scallions were a nice contrast to the decadent chicken skin.

In an effort to be experimental we decided to try the lightly grilled sting ray fin and dried squid. I preferred the sting ray fin (seen in the center of the photo below), which was a little crispy and chewy with light sea flavors. The dried squid was interesting, but super salty and fishy. The texture of the squid was very chewy, and it struck me as being like beef jerky of the sea.

More squid was on the way--this time it was deep-fried squid legs. Essentially, it was a lightly battered and fried calamari, but all we got was the tentacles. Score. The tentacles are my favorite part of the squid, so I was pretty happy about that. Just look at those delicately spiraling tentacles--beautiful.

For our second round of yakitori we opted for quail egg, chicken tail (aka chicken ass), and beef tongue. The quail eggs appeared to have been hard cooked and then placed on the skewers and lightly grilled. The ratio of yolk to egg white was perfect as we popped these little quail eggs like candy. 

Now for the chicken tail--this shit is serious. It's also called chicken ass, the pope's nose, and the pygostyle. Essentially it's the place on the chicken where the tail feathers attach. It's fatty, crispy, and just a beautiful piece of, well, ass. 

Another adventurous order was the beef tongue. Pat was pretty wary of the tongue, but I could tell he enjoyed it. After my recent first experience with beef tongue I knew it would be delicious--it was gone in seconds.  

The broiled miso flavored cod fish was awesome. The fish was light and flaky and coated with a nice glaze of miso. It was also accompanied with some tasty black seaweed.

When I spotted the grilled thick-cut Berkshire pork with Yuzu pepper flavor I knew we had to order it. The pork was nice and tender and just melted in the mouth. I loved the Yuzu pepper as well. Yuzu is a citrus fruit from Asia, and as an accompaniment to the pork it offered a refreshing, peppery burst of flavor.

We also decided to order another round of kim chi, this time opting for radish. It arrived with nice, big chunks of radish coated in the spicy seasoning. 

To finish off the meal we ordered every type of dumpling on the menu. First up was the steamed pork dumplings with wasabi flavored wrappers. Next came the steamed crab, shrimp, and vegetables dumplings, followed by deep fried spinach and vegetables dumplings. And our final bites of the meal were pan fried shrimp and vegetables dumplings. All the dumplings were great, but my favorite was the steamed pork dumplings with wasabi. 

Village Yokocho was a seriously phenomenal meal. We left satisfied, satiated, and spinning from lots of sake. It's a great place to hit up with friends so you can try out a variety of dishes. You definitely don't want to miss out on this awesome East Village joint.

Village Yokocho on Urbanspoon

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