Each week in our Chefs Off Duty series, we talk to some of our favorite chefs and industry folk around the country to find out their secret late-night spots where they like to grab a bite and a pint when their kitchens are finally closed. Next up: John DeLucie, the chef/proprietor behind Crown, The Lion and, most recently, Bill's Food & Drink. 

What restaurant do you like to hit up when you're leaving your own places at night?

I love Yakitori Totto. It's on W. 55th. It's super cool and open super, super late. It's packed all the time. I always try and sit by the bar because I love to watch the yakitori cooks and see how methodical [they are]. They have a little spray bottle and they turn those skewers. It just relaxes me to watch them work.

What are your favorite things to order there?

For such a little place there's great chicken and great mushrooms and other vegetables on a stick. Every kind of stick you can imagine. I love the beef, the chicken meatballs, and the squid. They also do beef tongue really well -- and shitake mushrooms. [They put the meats or vegetables] on a skewer and then it goes on the grill and it's meticulously watched. They put on some soy sauce and water to keep the flame down. There's also another yakitori place in the East Village on St. Marks that I happen to love: Yakitori Taisho.

Outside Yakitori Totto

One of our other chefs featured in the column, Dale Talde, named Yakitori Taisho as his favorite spot, too.

It's so tiny and its all great-looking college kids in there -- its just great. I love it! I went there when I was a much younger man. I have to say it was a long time ago. I remember eating a tremendous amount of grilled steak and beer -- when I was drinking beer. I don't remember much after that. And now [Yakitori Totto] is the grown-up version of Yakitori Taisho. There,= I'm more inclined to have burned shishito peppers in a more adult environment.

Yakitori Totto, 251 W 55th St., Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-midnight; Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-1am; Sat, 5:30pm-1am; Sun, 5:30pm-11pm

Yakitori Taisho, 5 St. Marks Pl., Sun-Wed, 6pm-2am; Thu-Sat, 6pm-4am


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