New restaurant review! And this one’s about the recently opened Torafuku on Prior street, on the edge of Chinatown.
My aunt is a big fan of food trucks and farmer’s markets. Whenever she’s back in Vancouver, she always makes a point to frequent the innovative trucks and fresh produce stalls that offer some of the best of Vancouver food culture.
The recently opened Torafuku restaurant is the offspring of popular food truck Le Tigre. My aunt is crazy about Le Tigre’s kickass rice, and once she heard about their new restaurant, she messaged my sister and I about checking it out.
My dinner companions!
While my aunt sipped from her mint & vodka-filled cup, my sister ordered a fruity mocktail (the waitress came back with a delicious plum-flavoured drink!) and I flipped through the pretty menus.
Torafuku is a small restaurant, and likely because it was recently opened to a decent amount of fanfare, it was packed when we went.
Things to note right off the bat: the small restaurant has a minimalist, hip design–open kitchen concept included; there’s a celebrated communal long table on the left side of the restaurant; food is served tapas style; and they don’t take reservations, so go early to avoid waits!
Oh, and it’s fusion.
The three of us settled on four entrees and two desserts.
The cheerful waitress left with our order and returned quickly with our first dish.
Kickass rice 2.0. Porked belly-topped, greens-stuffed oshi sushi topped with mayo, jalapeno, and a red sauce whose name I cannot recall.
Our first order was one of my favourites: Kickass rice 2.0, the more beautifully plated, restaurant-friendly version of kickass rice now in aburi oshi form!
I believe you get less bang for your buck, but I did thoroughly enjoy the dish. The texture & flavours of the pork belly, kickass rice, and sauces mix fantastically well. Not overwhelming and not bland, but the perfect exciting starter for our dinner.
I would happily order the dish again!
Next up was Dr. Octopus vs. Mr. Tuna.
Love the name, love the plating! I also loooove octopus.
For $12 you really don’t get that much, but I’m a sucker for octopi. The mayo-based sauce on the Dr. Octopus side is well complimented by the radish and VERY fresh tomatoes, and the octopus isn’t too rubbery! I thoroughly enjoyed this side of the plate.
The Mr. Tuna side is a little more disappointing. The tuna itself is nice and smooth with a good buttery texture–but the romesco sauce doesn’t add much flavouring, other than an element of spice. It ends up being a little plain.
Next was Gone Fishing, which featured tuna, egg, and kimchi on a bed of rice and herbs. The Gone Fishing dish changes often; it’s prepared however the kitchen wants, and your waitress will let you know what they’re offering while you’re there. Remember to ask for the price! The day we went, our dish was $12 and compared to the other dishes, was more filling. Not my favourite, but my sister and aunt are bigger fans of kimchi so they enjoyed it. Overall it felt like a good deal though!
Our last entree was the Brown Cow, which had cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and rice cakes. An egg is set on top, ready to be mixed into the rest of the dish. I actually enjoyed the flavours of the Brown Cow–I liked the braised oxtail flavours. My problem was that on the menu, it doesn’t say that the braised oxtail is only for flavouring. If any oxtail meat is in there, it’s so small it’s impossible to notice. I like beef! I was expecting to have some shredded meat to bite into. But I only got the flavouring… so I felt the menu was a bit misleading. Otherwise, I did enjoy the dish, and would consider ordering it again. My aunt and sister however weren’t as into it as they were the other dishes.
We rounded off dinner with two of the day’s dessert offering: a rich, creamy milk chocolate ganache accompanied by almond ice cream, berries, orange slices, and some freeze-dried strawberries. The orange and freeze dried berries are skippable, but the ganache, berries, and almond ice cream are delicious! The dessert was a good way to end our time at Torafuku.
Overall, I’d recommend checking out Torafuku if you’re interested in the kind of ‘hip’ fusion restaurants that have been popping up around Vancouver for the past few years. There’s a big focus on local ingredients and plating, and the quality of the dishes are good. Yet, as many other recent Zomato reviewers have noted, service can get incredibly slow. It started off speedy for us, but the last few dishes arrived VERY far apart from one another. It literally went from sunset to dark before our dessert came. We were there for over an hour and a half not because of good conversation (though there was plenty of that), but because the last few dishes took forever to bring out from the kitchen. The first three dishes appeared within the first half hour, and then it just… petered out.
Torafuku is a new restaurant, so I’m willing to give them some slack, but be warned! If you’re going to dine here, go with people you know you can chat the night away with. You’re going to be killing time between dishes.
Other than that, I truly enjoyed Torafuku! Prices may be “trendy”-level high (is plating a good enough reason to pump prices?), but their food is with the times and genuinely yummy. I’d recommend Vancouver foodies check it out!