“Yakitori ichiban! Tori meshi niban!” This is a drive-in chicken restaurant with a catchphrase that older customers may have heard somewhere before. Founded in 1969 in Imari City, Saga Prefecture, this year marks its 55th year in business. The restaurant’s signature dishes of chicken rice and chicken soup are called “soul food for Imari citizens” and are eaten by 150,000 people every year.
Drive-in Tori now has a branch in the neighboring city of Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, where 150,000 people can enjoy the “soul food for Imari,” which is eaten by 150,000 people every year, from the comfort of their home in Fukuoka. Taking advantage of this, we took advantage of this opportunity to verify “how delicious is the soul food of the citizens of Imari?”
A large store that lives up to its “drive-in” name along Route 202… Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch is a restaurant like this…
Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch is located along Route 202, which runs east to west on the north side of Kafuri Station on the JR Chikuhi Line. Diagonally across from the Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch is the popular ramen restaurant Anzen Ramen, and 250 meters to the west is the Kafuri main restaurant of Maki no Udon, one of the soul foods of Fukuoka Prefecture. Just west of it is the main restaurant of Itoshima Shokudo, which draws long lines for its seafood bowls, and about 200 meters west of it is Tsukamoto Fresh Fish Restaurant, also popular for its seafood dishes. For those traveling around this area by car, there is no better spot for lunch. If you make plans to pass through this area around noon, you are sure to have a delicious experience.
Well, among such popular restaurants, Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch is a large store that lives up to its drive-in name, with a total of 120 seats. There is also a supermarket and a home center on the same site, and the parking lot is spacious, so there is no need to worry about parking space. The interior space is also spacious, with table seating as well as kotatsu-style tatami rooms where you can relax comfortably. Of course, there seems to be no problem even with small children, and I think it is the most user-friendly of all the restaurants along this street.
I ordered the “Ichiban Set Meal,” the most popular lunch menu item at Drive-in Tori Itoshima, which includes chicken rice, chicken soup, and yakitori (grilled chicken), the soul food of Imari residents.
What I ordered at Drive-in Tori Itoshima this time was the Ichiban Set Meal (priced at 998 yen plus tax), the restaurant’s No. 1 popular lunch menu item. This set meal includes two kinds of chicken rice (small), chicken soup, and grilled chicken, which is called “soul food for Imari citizens,” so that you can enjoy the highlights of Drive-in Tori with just this one set meal.
After placing my order on the touch panel and waiting for a while…
First, the chicken for yakitori was brought out. It seems that brand-name chicken from Saga Prefecture called “Arita-dori” is used for this yakitori. The total of seven pieces of chicken thigh meat cut into easy-to-eat size is quite a large portion for a lunch that costs only a little over 1,000 yen.
This chicken is slowly grilled in a smokeless roaster…
Then it is seasoned with a total of seven different seasonings. The one at the far end is Drive-in Tori’s secret yakiniku sauce, which is a thick sauce with a mild sweet taste, but I personally prefer it with grilled salt or yuzu kosho.
While the yakitori was cooking, the long-awaited chicken rice and chicken soup arrived (the chicken rice is available in a large portion for an additional 150 yen plus tax). I wish I could have taken a good picture of all three kinds of food, but I already had several pieces of yakitori…
But that aside, let’s try the torimeshi. My image of torimeshi is rice cooked in a pot, but if you look closely, you can see that the rice grains are unevenly colored, indicating that the torimeshi at Drive-in Tori is a mixed rice dish. The lightly soy-sauce-colored rice grains are lightly coated with oil, and when placed on the tongue, the light soy-sauce flavor and the delicious taste of chicken broth come through. The impact of the first bite is weak, but as you eat it, the broth gradually takes over, and when it passes the end of your throat, you will want another bite.
On the contrary, the other “soul food of Imari citizens” chicken soup was rather thick in flavor. For those of us in the Kansai region, it seems a little harsh, but perhaps people in Saga Prefecture prefer a thicker flavor? However, this soup also came in a much larger bowl than a typical soup bowl, and there was a large block of chicken thigh meat in it as well. Like the yakitori, the volume of the soup is also quite large.
This is how I tried two types of Imari soul food through Drive-in Tori Itoshima’s No. 1 popular lunch menu. The chicken soup was a little strong in flavor, and I personally felt a little “hmmm…”, but the chicken rice was so addictive with its broth that I wanted to try it again. It is also good that the portion is large enough to fill you up for only a little more than 1,000 yen. Above all, the restaurant’s catchphrase and the “B-class” atmosphere everywhere made me, a distant visitor from the Kansai region, feel a sense of familiarity with the place, and I liked it very much.
Examples of other lunch menu items at Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch (prices do not include tax)
- Special set meal: 2,300 yen
- Recommended set meal: 1,200 yen
- Ladies’ Lunch 1200yen
- Yakitori set meal 880 yen
- Neck set meal: 880 yen
- Fried chicken set meal: 800 yen
- Tori meshi set meal: 580 yen
Take-out items are also available…Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch is an 8-minute walk from Kaburi Station on the JR Chikuhi Line, the closest station to the restaurant.
At the Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch, various products that can easily reproduce the taste of the restaurant at home are sold next to the cash register…
Torimeshi no moto, chicken soup, and yakitori sauce are all easy to prepare with instant sensation, making them ideal as emergency rations when you are short on time. If you actually try them at the store and like the taste, by all means buy them as souvenirs. You can also purchase these products through Amazon and Rakuten. The links for purchasing the products are posted below, so if you have never been to a drive-in bird shop but would like to try Imari’s soul food, please use them! If you haven’t been to Drive-in Tori but want to try some of Imari’s soul food, please take advantage of it!
Now, here are the details of the restaurant. Restaurant data is here…
Drive-in Tori Itoshima Branch Out of 5
Address: 1-2-1 Kanzainishi, Itoshima, Fukuoka 819-1148
Phone number: 092-331-8710
Business hours: 11:00-22:30 LO
Closed: Wednesday, Year-end and New Year holidays
Credit card payment: Accepted (also accepts PayPay)