JOURNAL / JAPAN etc.(English)

Food of Japan: Learn and Enjoy

TORITSUNE since 1911

Series ― Time-Honored Shops - Japan’s Hidden Treasures by Mr. Shoku-iku, Yukio Hattori


日本の食 知る・楽しむ 「鳥つね」 since 1911 連載 ― 世界に伝えたい日本の老舗 服部幸應

Toritsune's translucent chicken stock cooks up this basic hot pot of bok choy, leeks, grilled tofu, meatballs, shirataki noodles, rice, and chicken thigh, heart, and liver (¥5,800 per person); multicourse meals with chicken sashimi and other dishes start from ¥6,900~.

text by Michiko Watanabe / photographs by Toshio Sugiura

It’s that time of year when food cravings for most of us in Japan turn to thoughts of steaming nabemono hot pots. The clear, savory broth of the chicken nabe made by Toritsune in Tokyo, accented with the citrusy tang of ponzu, is one of the tastiest treats of these colder months. Third-generation owner Akihiko Yamamoto tells us more about their recipe.

A Chicken (or Two) in Every Pot

My grandfather ran a poultry shop at street level and a restaurant on the second floor; customers could also order oyakodon (chicken and egg over rice) and other dishes for takeaway. My father closed the meat shop to concentrate on the restaurant business, and opened our branch in Soto Kanda.


The main restaurant sits atop a hill directly across from Yushima Tenjin, a shrine frequented by scholars and students. The Shizendo branch is in Soto Kanda, near Suehirocho.

Thanks to its location across from Yushima Tenjin, our main restaurant receives a lot of business from visitors to the shrine.
November, when the annual chrysanthemum festival takes place, is always busy. Throughout the winter months we see a steady rush of students who come to pray for their success in entrance exams, and of course we have our regulars, too.

 In the summer our customers come not for hot pots but for our oyakodon. We serve two, sometimes three, types of free-range pedigree chicken in each hot pot. The photos here show Nagoya Kochin and Hinai Jidori from Aichi and Akita prefectures. We also use Okukuji Shamo from Ibaraki. 

We purchase the fowl whole and do the butchering ourselves. The thighs, heart, and liver go into the hot pots; the rest goes into our stock, which we slow-simmer for two hours. Its only other ingredient is water-nice and simple.


Shown here are uber-fresh Nagoya Kochin (front) and Hinai Jidori (rear), the latter a cross between native fowl and Rhode Island Red chickens. Egg yolk blended with the minced meat gives a slight orange tint to Toritsune's tender meatballs. 


The dull edge of these weighted mincing blades pulverizes the meat, giving the meatballs a fine, pillow-like texture

We make our meatballs from thigh meat, grinding it twice and mincing it further on the cutting board before adding egg yolk. At our Shizendo branch in Soto Kanda, waitstaff cook the hot pot at your table, beginning with the cuts of meat, then adding the vegetables and meatballs in turn. But the atmosphere at our main restaurant is more relaxed. Most of our clientele here are regulars, born and raised in this part of town. They’re a no-fuss lot, and prefer to do the cooking themselves, at their own pace.

Why the different types of pedigree chicken? Back in 1990, our main supplier ended its business, and we decided to source the best poultry that was available ourselves. At the time, not many restaurants were offering free-range fowl. Ever since, we’ve been purchasing directly from the poultry farms. 

Our customers enjoy the chance to compare the different pedigrees in one hot pot-the texture and umami are quite different. For oyakodonburi we use Daisen-dori from Tottori. Its plump, juicy meat is just right for this dish.

名物の上親子丼1900 円。卵は、温まっているが固まっていない、絶妙のとろとろ加減。

Oyakodon (¥1,900), a popular comfort food, is a melt-in-the-mouth serving of chicken and egg over rice. 

店で使用している卵は兵庫県から取り寄せているもの。1 パック1000 円でお客さんにも分けている。ふらりと卵を買いに立ち寄るお客さんも。

The eggs, from Hyogo prefecture, are sold at the restaurant in packs of ten for ¥1,000.

3-29-3 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 5 to 8:45 p.m.
no evening hours on holidays.
Four minutes on foot from Tokyo Metro Yushima Station.