Ever since I found out that Toratatsu was owned by the same people as the now-defunct Shiru Bay Chopstick Cafe, I had wanted to give it a try. However, since it was located on Denman, it was always a bit inconvenient for me to make it out there. Luckily for me, I saw a Groupon for it one day so I had no excuse to skip out on paying it a visit.
While we pondered the menu, I started with a mixed grapefruit sake and Jenkins had a Samurai Rock, which had sake shaken with lime. I had fresh grapefruit juice in my drink so I really enjoyed it.
We started with some small nibbles from the daily special board. First came some deep-fried fish cakes. They were a little greasy but had a nice amount of saltiness mixed with the fish cakes. I also liked how they were slightly crispy on the outside.
The negitoro and garlic toast arrived next. The negitoro itself came with a little dollop of caviar and avocado and I really liked how it was quite creamy and had a nice texture. I would have liked for the garlic toast to have been toasted for longer though.
The ebi chilli mayo was made the same way as Shiru Bay back when it was still in business. The ebi was nice and crispy and although there may have been too much chili mayo, I really enjoyed its creamy spiciness and it suited my preference just fine. The fried wonton skin wasn’t really necessary but it did provide a nice additional crunch.
The Chinese-style braised pork ribs was off the fresh sheet had a nice Japanese twist to them, with some tonkatsu-like sauce and grainy mustard. I would have really liked to have this with rice.
The ishiyaki risotto was made with Japanese rice and came with scallops, mushrooms, and seaweed in a stone bowl. I think because it was cheese-based, the rice never formed a crispy exterior even though it was served in a stone bowl. I think it was mostly personal preference but I prefer the regular ishiyaki offerings to this risotto version.
As part of Groupon, we were also presented with some complimentary black sesame ice cream. The ice cream was not very dark but actually had a fair amount of black sesame flavour. I think this was partially because there were a lot of whole sesame seeds which also gave it some extra flavour. The ice cream was not very creamy and tasted like it had more milk than usual but I did not mind this.
We quite enjoyed our dinner at Toratatsu. The restaurant is pretty small so it’s best to make reservations if you can. I wouldn’t say any of their dishes are groundbreaking but they are all well done and quite tasty. It is slightly more expensive than most izakayas that we visit but once in a while is not too bad.
735 Denman Street, Vancouver