History of Torigura

In 1986, Torigura opened in an out-of-the-way residential neighborhood in Osaka. One could say that the life of Torigura's owner and executive chef, Hachiro Tanabe, is inextricably tied to the restaurant's history.

Up until opening Torigura, Mr.Tanabe was a construction worker, and it was the closing of Kinoe, a yakitori restaurant he often passed by, that motivated him to open his own establishment. Rather than learning through formal training, he grew his skills by observing the owner and executive chef of Kinoe. He mimicked these techniques on his own and corrected himself repeatedly to build his craft.

In this very first of Torigura locations, he began to flourish as he attracted a steady flow of loyal customers, despite the inconvenience of the neighborhood. He created the interior aesthetic, built the yakitori grill, and called upon his family to try his dishes before opening the establishment to the public. Two years thereafter, he moved to a Shinsaibashi location that is currently managed by his apprentice.
Although in the downtown area, the new Shinsaibashi location did not face the main street, and hard times fell upon him in his initial year after the move. It was through his loyal customers and word of mouth that life was breathed into the restaurant and the winds began to change. Several years later, it became inordinately difficult to make reservations.

Torigura established itself firmly in Osaka over the course of the next 30 years mostly from the support of its faithful customers, without whom none of Mr. Tanabe's success would have been possible.


Hachiro Tanabe (Executive Chef)

To describe Mr. Tanabe, the words "fiercely independent-minded" are quite apt. He is the classic Osaka native with an energetic spirit, self-confidence, and vision of the future. In Minami, Osaka, Mr. Tanabe is famous as stony-faced and pensive. Standing at the yakitori grill, one quite easily notices his stern, intense facial expressions. In an effort to follow his beliefs, he has cultivated expertise in grilling and moved away from broiling.

Of course, yakitori is not the type of cuisine one might expect to see served at high-brow occasions like banquets. It is with this understanding and, yet, the tenacity to refine his skills, that Mr. Tanabe has sworn to offer "first-rate cuisine for the masses."

"In the quest to make food delicious, there are limitless possibilities."

Staying true to this notion while never forgetting to be humble, Mr. Tanabe has toiled day after day over the course of 30 years to bring Torigura into the spotlight. His boundless curiosity has not waned in the slightest as he still challenges himself to improve his dishes' appeal. The pride Mr. Tanabe has in his career is inextricably tied to his presence at the yakitori grill. His intangible dignity comes out through his quaint Osaka charm during conversation with customers, setting their spirits at ease.


About Yakitori at Torigura

From its inception, yakitori was meant as a food for everyday people, and we hope to preserve this intention. We put our heart and soul every day into ensuring Torigura continues to honor yakitori's history as "first-rate cuisine for the masses."

"Not broiling, but grilling."

Though these terms may seem similar, there is, in actuality, a stark difference between the two. Torigura owner and executive chef Mr. Tanabe has focused on grilling, and, in addition, choosing high-quality ingredients as his most essential tools. Maintaining a quintessentially Japanese sense of minimalism, Mr. Tanabe uses the natural flavors of the ingredients to their fullest extent during the yakitori cooking process. This is part of what sets Torigura's yakitori apart from all others. Mr. Tanabe himself has admitted that he was not previously excited about yakitori until he began to make it in his own, special way. Mr. Tanabe says that, if Torigura can garner this type of excitement from its customers, he would be overjoyed.

Mr. Tanabe has listened to his customers without fail, lending an ear to their opinions and creating custom yakitori around their input. He is sublimely grateful for their contributions.

Photographs by Masahiro Goda