A few weeks ago, I went for dinner with some fellow foodies, Sherman, Nora and Jenn at Torafuku. The room is open concept with cozy booths and a long communal table. The vibe is very chill and is a great place for group get-togethers. We went on a Wednesday night, arriving as the doors opened. We stayed for three hours and by the end of the night, the room was packed with diners. The menu is eclectic loaded with lots of little appetizers and plenty of sharing plates. Be warned, this is one of my longest posts in a while!
All the items have a very tongue-in-cheek name...you'll see. We started off with “The World is Your Oyster”. Served individually in little jars. It's a shucked oyster with little bits of tempura for crunch, bonito flakes for flavour. I loved the edible flowers and there was a nice hit of freshness from the shallot and ginger salsa. This is a fun dish. When you open the lid, a wisp of smoke escapes and it's a very pretty presentation a well.
When you think of a sushi handroll, you don't think "pork". But that's exactly what “Get in My Belly" is! It's a sushi hand roll with juicy pork belly, pork floss and cucumber. It was seasoned with furikake, perhaps a bit overly so, since the dish was quite salty. Lots of pork, and even a bit of crackling too, and just a bit of rice, normally, there is a lack of filling, however, in this case, perhaps an extra bit of rice would have offset the saltiness. This was one of my favourite dishes of the night.
I love corn, butter and popcorn! This “Miso Corny” starter had all of the above, talk about a homerun. The buttery grilled corn was highlighted with miso flavours and a sprinkling of togarashi. So good! I could have had the whole thing all to myself!
You might not expect tacos at a Japanese restaurant, but give the “Taco Time” a try! Filled with pulled pork hock braised in miso, and topped with pickled onions, shallots, strips of nori and salsa verde, this is an explosion of flavours. Just a bit too salty, and I could probably use the double taco help balance everything out.
Buns...oh “Bun Me”...Chinese steamed buns are quite the rage at the moment, and there's a good reason for it. The buns are soft, supply and comforting. The beef brisket was tender, but the sheer size of the portion made it a bit difficult to eat. Just a few cuts and this would have been great since the cabbage and BBQ sauce gave the entire bite a good balance. It was more of a texture issue versus flavours.
And now onto one of my favourite dishes of the night, the “Quack Addict”...BBQ Duck Spring Rolls. The meat was very tender and the addition of the carrots and enoki make for a great mouthfeel. The crispiness of the skin was great, and the plum sauce made each bite juicy and rich.
The next dish was a challenge for me. I like my ramen hot and steaming...so this "Lucky Tiger Ramen” was a bit off the beaten path for me. I'm not familiar with cold ramen (zaru soba, I'm good with), but this was definitely different for me. The noodles were cooked perfectly, with a good bite and loaded with cucumbers, sprouts and radish. And the soft boiled egg added a nice richness to the bowl. It's not something I'd re-order, but others at the table really enjoyed it.
The next dish was awesome! I love these “Rye So Messy Chicken Wings”. If I didn't have to share, I think I could have eaten the whole thing...no, not really. The rendered skin held up against the zesty rye and gochujang marinade and didn't get soggy due to the mango glaze. The crispy ramen noodles gave the dish extra crunch too. It was a fun dish and I'd definitely order it again!
As with all restaurants...they have to provide gluten free options...and they did this with the "Calamari The Way I Like It". The batter is gluten free and stayed crispy and crunchy. The squid was slightly chewy, good mouthfeel, flavoured with "angry tiger sauce". It wasn't spicy at all, just a hint of heat. I did like the corn served with it, as well as the pretty mushrooms, beans and edible flowers.
Despite us saying that we didn't want any "veggie" plates, they surprised us with the "Veggie Tales", and I'm so glad they did! The pappardelle is made in-house, and it's topped with kale, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. The texture is enhanced by toasted hazelnuts and the richness comes from the parmesan and yuzu butter. It's also available as a gluten free option. You really don't miss the meat here at ALL!.
I'm not really caught up in the whole poke craze but we also did try the
"Dr. Octopus and Mr. Tuna". I had a small bite and I did like the spicy sauce and pickled veggies, and the rice was amazing. But since I'm not a huge fan of poke, I have little to offer in terms of comparison.
Okay, this was another one of my favourite dishes..."Give a Dog a Bone". I love bone marrow and I also love beef luc lac. The combination of these two on a single dish was heavenly. I would have preferred a few bits of baguette to sop up the marrow, but I ended up using the buns from the bun me for that purpose. The flavours were astonishing rich and the marrow was so creamy. Must have.
If you prefer fish, then do yourself a favour and order the "Don't Be So Cheeky". These halibut cheeks are super tender and done just right. The sake marinade and the veggies (mushrooms and apple) are a perfect complement. They don't overwhelm the dish but provides great texture to the dish. This would be perfect for my mom because she's just not a red meat eater.
Next, we had another one of their housemade pasta, this was their "Unicorn". There was tasty, although the uni was just a touch less than what we expected. Thankfully for my friends, I'm not a huge fan so they managed to split the portion into thirds quite easily. I liked the pasta along with the clams, corn and fresh tomatoes.
The dessert was a mix of their offerings at the time and that menu changes frequently. We all thought the coffee flavoured one was excellent as was the cereal inspired version. These are delicate and best eaten quickly.
This is a great place for a leisurely meal with a group of friends, and I'd go again to sample their constantly changing menu! Oh, and the drinks are fun and fabulous too!
Disclaimer: Our meal (food and beverages) was complimentary. However, all opinions are my own.