Soba Totto is one of the true gems of Midtown East: it’s delicious, simply but beautifully appointed, and surprisingly not overpriced. My boyfriend and I were pleased to both find ourselves with a day off last week so we could finally enjoy Totto at lunch. We were totally in the mood for chicken meatballs and were sad to find that they don’t serve yakitori at lunch, but it forced us to try something we may have liked even better.
Chicken Soboro Don: sautéed minced chicken, poached egg, scallions, seaweed, rice
I was worried I might actually be playing it too safe by ordering this. I’m trying to push myself to eat more seafood so I stop thinking of it as fishy-tasting and start thinking of it as normal-tasting, and where better to eat more of it than at a Japanese restaurant? But as soon as I mixed that egg into my rice and took a bite, I knew I’d made the right decision. It had the comfort factor of a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup but with the taste factor of a much more expensive meal. The finely-chopped chicken was so much more enjoyable to eat than your usual chunks, and I liked that the seaweed gave it a hint of ocean flavor.
Salmon Oyako Don: grilled salmon flake, salmon roe, shredded egg, rice
My boyfriend ordered a dish much more appropriate to the restaurant. It was, you know, kinda fishy, but I was pleasantly surprised at how balanced it tasted. Even the roe blended right in to the salmon meat. Kamran called it “very fresh and eminently salmony”.
A bowl of soba came with each of our meals, adding another degree of hominess. The earthy buckwheat was a great compliment to the meal, as the flavor won’t overpower whatever it accompanies. Mine was hot (and I think topped with a slice of fish cake–eek!), but my boyfriend prefers the cold variety.
A shot of the meal as a whole shows you just how much I got for $15. Our combination meals were served with salad, pickled vegetables, and even more pickled vegetables on top of the already-too-much chicken with rice and hot soba. We could’ve shared this and still had plenty left over.
I’m still thinking about this meal a week later and wish I didn’t work aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way downtown so I could have it every day. I’m only giving it 4.5 donuts instead of 5 because a) I secretly wanted the appetizer that comes with the meal to be the corn tempura of theirs I love so much, and b) I haven’t had enough donburi to know if this was as good as I think it was.
211 E 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017 (map)