While chicken often seems like the cheap alternative to having beef, it isn’t the case in Nagoya.
Here in Nagoya chicken can be just as expensive and luxurious as a slice of beef. You just have to know where to go.
In this post, I would like to introduce you to Nagoya Cochin the expensive chicken breed of Nagoya, as well as one of the best restaurants to enjoy fine dished made from it.
Let’s get started.
What is Nagoya Cochin
As mentioned above Nagoya Cochin is a special kind of chicken breed that originated in Nagoya. It was created by breeding a type of Chinese Cochin chicken with a local chicken breed from the Owari territory (the area around Nagoya) some 160 years ago.
The resulting chicken breed was big, strong, with lots of meat. The meat of a Nagoya Cochin Chicken has a pinkish color, unique texture and is said to be rich in Umami flavor.
Not only the chicken meat but also the eggs are special. With a rich orange color and a creaminess not usually found in your everyday supermarket eggs. These eggs are especially popular with chefs to create expensive and delicious desserts but are also used in cooking.
About Torigin in Nagoya
If you want to sample the Ferrari among chicken in Nagoya you should seriously consider Torigin. A restaurant specialized in Nagoya Cochin dishes.
There are many other restaurants in Nagoya serving Nagoya Cochin (you can find a list of them here) but Torigin has made a name for itself over the years. And also worked hard in popularizing Nagoya Cochin Chicken in the first place.
Torigin is a family-owned restaurant with only 3 shops all located only a couple of steps from each other in Sakae district, the downtown of Nagoya.
The Main Store, with its characteristic traditional Japanese entrance, Torigin Fugetsu located on the 8th floor of a building featuring restaurants which has a Japanese garden, and Kiraku Restaurant.
For my first experience of Nagoya Cochin, I chose to go all out and reserved a private room at Torigin Fugetsu ordering their most expensive course menu at 11000 yen (around 100 US dollars) per person.
The Atmosphere at Torigin Nagoya
The building Torigin Fugetsu is located in isn’t anything special. It is a commercial building like many around the area, with restaurants and bars and other forms of entertainment inside.
But once the elevator doors open on the 8th floor you are stepping into a completely different world that will leave you awestruck. Everything at Torigin is decorated in a luxurious traditional Japanese style.
From the reception, a long hall leads to the back of the restaurant. To the left, you will find a Japanese garden. Surprisingly considering you are on the 8th floor of a high-rise building. The other side of the hall is a wide-open space lined with low tables on Tatami mats. This is the communal eating space. Great for bigger gatherings like year-end parties, anniversaries, and birthdays.
In the back are only a handful of private rooms. All of them decorated in the same luxurious traditional Japanese style. Only one of the rooms has a window to enjoy the garden while eating. The other rooms are without windows. But that’s okay, giving people a chance to really focus on the delicious food and great company.
Our room was comfortable and big enough to accommodate 4 people.
The Menu at Torigin
While you can order from an extensive menu, Torigin also offers five different course menus.
The cheapest course costs 4800 yen and doesn’t include their famous Nagoya Cochin Nabe, a hot pot dish which is the signature dish of Torigin.
The two middle options costing 5900 yen and 6900 yen offer a wide variety of Nagoya Cochin dishes such as Nagoya Cochin Nabe and Nagoya Cochin Sashimi.
The two most expensive options costing 8500 yen and 11000 yen respectively offer more luxurious dishes in addition to some of their standard dishes.
The most expensive one had a small piece of steak and even a small bowl of Hitsumabushi, the grilled eel so famous in Nagoya.
Not part of any of the course menus but still worth a try are the Nagoya Cochin Tebasaki, the special chicken wings.
If I have to be honest I wouldn’t order the most expensive course a second time, because steak and Hitsumabushi are not the restaurant’s specialty. I do however highly recommend the Nagoya Cochin Nabe, so choosing either the 5900 yen, 6900 yen, or 8500 yen course should be fully satisfying.
The Food at Torigin in Nagoya
As is typical for a Japanese restaurant with multiple courses the food arrives slowly, one after the other, making this dinner a two-hour event. And it was a very delicious event indeed.
We started with the Chicken Sashimi, a dish using different parts of the chicken and seasoning them with different sauces and marinades. I had never had raw chicken before, and it was delicious. Don’t be afraid to get food poisoning here. The chicken is slaughtered the same day and hygiene standards in Japan are exceptionally high.
Other dishes followed, all of them delicious and quite satisfying.
In between dishes, our Tebasaki arrived that we had ordered separately. They are amazingly delicious and much bigger than any other chicken wing I have ever seen. The meat was lean and rich in Umami seasoned in a light sweet sauce.
The highlight for all of us was the Nagoya Cochin Nabe. One gigantic pot arrived filled with pieces of chicken, chicken meatballs, tofu, green onions, and topped with a couple of Nagoya Cochin eggs. The soup was a delicious and rich red Miso soup. Another specialty from Nagoya.
It was so good that even though we were really getting full from all the other dishes that had home before we even drank the whole soup and didn’t leave a speck behind in the pot.
The only disappointment during an otherwise excellent dinner was the Hitsumabushi, our final dish before dessert. I know how good Hitsumabushi is supposed to taste like and the dish we were served didn’t have any of the crispiness a well-grilled eel is supposed to have or the juicy inside that I expected.
The Price at Torigin Nagoya
With courses between 4800 yen and 11000 yen, this is not a casual place to have dinner, but rather an exceptional experience to have in Nagoya.
Drinks are not included in this price, and the prices for drinks match the high prices of food. In all, we paid more than 50,000 yen for 4 people.
If you don’t want to spend so much on dinner but still want to try the best Torigin has to offer I recommend dropping in at their main store or Kiraku restaurant where you can order dishes a la carte.
Torigin Restaurants at a Glance
If you decide to check out Torigin for yourself you can use the information I have provided here about the three restaurants.
My Conclusion about Dinner at Torigin in Sakae
In conclusion, I have to say that Torigin is an excellent choice if you want to have an unforgettable dining experience in Nagoya. And if you like chicken then this is the best place to try it.
You might also be interested in joining a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour. This 3.5-hour long tour introduces you to some of the best dishes to be found in Nagoya. We visit 4 restaurants and have some other snacks and sweets as well. Nagoya Cochin is not one of the things included but many others are. Check here for more information on the Nagoya Meshi Food Tour.
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.