Grilled Chicken Liver.

1 Jun

After a Memorial weekend of sausage and steak grilling, I thought I had exhausted whatever char-loving portion of my palette. Well, I was wrong. A breezy Monday evening, as if dragged by the insatiable ghost that is my appetite, I ended up here at Chotto, the local izakaya.


Izakayas have been making the rounds in San Francisco, spreading from Inner Richmond through the rest of city like wild, ridiculously delicious fire. Chotto was among them. Set in the Marina, its menu was rather conservative at first. They offered Japanese bar bites in forms of raw dishes and skewered meats, but was careful not to intimidate customers with the more traditional variations such as gizzards and skins. But with its spring menu came bolder in their experimentation, testing the Marina waters with more unfamiliar ingredients. Such was the dish I came from: yaki tori motsu, grilled skewers of daily chicken parts. Lucky me, it was chicken liver day!

The two skewered grilled livers came to me oh-so-beautifully. Their skins were lightly charred, with a nice crisp around the succulent lobes of liver. The skewers appeared to be only lightly seasoned; served on the side a wedge of lemon and a pinch of Shichimi, the Japanese “seven flavor chili pepper”.

When I bit into it, I tasted the thinly crisped exterior, then into a cooked, slightly meaty layer. But that layer only lasted about 2 millimeters into my bite. Then the lobe of liver bursted – literally – into a world of wonders. It had the texture between melted brie and the silkiest tofu – rich, creamy, smooth. Unlike the delicate flavor of monk fish liver, the grilled chicken liver was powerful, assertive, and full of life. While a piece of foie gets pan-seared carefully, these chicken livers were touched by wild flames and were re-birthed gloriously – straight into my belly.

A slight squeeze of lemon and a tiny sprinkle of chili pepper brought the sweetness of the liver even further, rounding the flavors perfectly. It was such a delightful experience from two not-too-tiny skewers of chicken livers. And yes, I ate them all. By myself. I’m not ashamed.

Bonus dish: the grilled pork belly skewers. It was firm and meaty, with tiny ribbons of fat in between. Delicious, and oddly refreshing; not something one would expect when the phrase “pork belly” was in the order. Yummy plus plus!


Next up on my Chotto experience: grilled cow tongue! They unfortunately ran out for the day – by 7PM! It seems that weird eats is in vogue here by the bay.

Chotto | 3317 Steiner Street | San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.441.2223

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