My first visit to Torafuku was not that long ago, sometime back in May. I came away from the experience with mixed feelings. On one side, I enjoyed the creativity and unapologetic boldness of the flavours. By the same token, the generous use of seasoning and sauces meant ingredients got lost in translation. With that fresh in my mind, I was curious to see the changes on the Fall menu as I was invited along with Nora, Grace and Jenn to try it out.
Other than the few veggie small plates, we sampled the whole menu including The World is Your Oyster featuring oyster motoyaki with shallot & ginger salsa, crispy tempura bits, bonito flakes and served in a jar filled with smoke. Naturally, there was a light smokiness to the buttery and briny oyster. There was some spice from the ginger salsa as well as some saltiness from the bonito. I would've liked to see a few less greens as it detracted from the tasty oyster. Addictively tasty, the segments of corn on the cob in the Miso Corny sported plump, sweet niblets that were doused in plenty of miso butter and spiced with togorashi. There was a certain smokiness from the char that help balance the sweetness.
From the sweetness of corn, we moved onto something much more savoury with the Get in my Belly. There was a lot going on inside the nori cone including the chewiness of the sushi rice, crunch from the cracklings, the light salty crunch from the pork floss and the fresh snap of the cucumber. To top it all off, there was the usual salty brininess from the furikake as well as the well-seasoned pork belly. This was on the saltier side, but I didn't mind that. Next, I tried the Calamari 2.0 which I had on my previous visit. This featured a gluten-free batter which was firmly crunchy while only slightly glutinous on the inside. The squid itself was a tender chewy texture that was on point. There was just the right amount of angry tiger sauce (similar to chili oil sauce) to provide some spice and saltiness. Rounding out the dish was the balancing sweetness of the corn niblets, saltiness of the squid ink sauce, buttery mushrooms and semi-sweet plums.
Continuing on the fried theme, we dug into the Quack Addict which were essentially duck spring rolls. Partnering up with the meaty duck, we found enoki mushrooms and carrots topped with crispy capers, scallions, chili oil and plum sauce. These were decently crispy despite sitting for awhile as we took pictures. The duck filling was meaty with the crunch of carrots. I thought the saltiness of the capers nicely accented the sweet plum sauce. There was a background spice provided by the chili oil. Unlike my initial visit, I found the Rye So Messy Wings to be on point. The aggressively crunchy batter revealed rendered skin and juicy meat. On the exterior, they didn't overdo it with the gochujang nor mango glaze, hence the wings stayed crunchy while not being overly sweet nor spicy.
Our last 2 small dishes consisted of 2 hand-helds in the Taco Time and Bun Me. For the taco, it contained pulled pork hock, miso, pickled onion, crispy shallots, nori and salsa verdé. I found the pork to be tender with a meaty chew. The flavours were varied with a certain herbaceousness combined with a lingering spice. However, the salt content was rather high and it somewhat obscured everything else. The Bun Me featured a slice of slow-roasted beef brisket with root beer BBQ sauce and marinated green cabbage. This was a bit difficult to eat as the brisket a bit chewy. Not that didn't mean it wasn't tender nor succulent though. There was some sweetness from the BBQ sauce as well as a crunch from cabbage.
Something that was remarkably different than the first time I had it was the Lucky Tiger Ramen. Instead of a tomato soup, we found the firmly chewy Korean-style ramen mixed with cucumbers, beansprouts and mustard infused radish with Yong Yong’s special watermelon sauce. For me, I enjoyed how it was far less saucy and wet than the previous version. Also, it was refreshing as a cold dish. There was an appealing aroma from the sesame oil as well as an equal amount of spice and sweetness. Add in the crunch from the veggies and silkiness from the egg, this dish was varied in textures and flavours. Onto the poke bowl aka Dr. Octopus & Mr. Tuna, we found octopus and albacore poke salad, pickled veggies, pine nuts, sesame, house made spicy sauce and torched miso mayo atop flavoured rice. This was pretty good featuring chewy rice topped with tender, albeit salty, tako and firm tuna. The star of the show were the sweet and salty pickles which brought the dish alive.
We then moved onto some larger pasta dishes including the one veggie item we ordered - Veggie Tales. As it turns out the combination of house made pappardelle pasta, wild kale, foraged mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, toasted hazelnuts, grated parm and yuzu butter was one of my favourites. Although it was a tad greasy, the chewy noodles were appealing and flavourful due to the Asian soy-based seasoning. There was a certain Earthiness to the dish accented by the tart pop of the tomatoes and crunch from the nuts. Probably the most anticipated dish of the night was the aptly named Unicorn with you guessed it uni and corn. The house-made fettuccine was al dente, yet even more greasy than the previous dish. However, that was mostly due to the ample amount of butter (within the veloute). In addition to the sweet uni, the extra pop of the corn was balanced off by the good amount of cheese. Rounding out the dish were tomatoes, clams and sorrel.
Tasting strangely like something I've had before, the Don't Be So Cheeky sported sake-marinated halibut cheeks with trumpet mushrooms, veggies, sour apple and cucumber nage. After a few bites, it occurred to me the sauce tasted like cold-pressed juice. This was a nice revelation as it was bright, clean and refreshing (with a hint of smoke) compared to the aggressively seasoned dishes so far. The cheeks were tender and springy where the sake marinade did not degrade the texture. Featuring a large bone, the Give A Dog A Bone was fairly large in size. The ample bone marrow was on point being buttery and Earthy while the slices of Luc Lac Beef were tender while retaining its natural texture. They were salty though with an equal amount of sweetness. Loved the crunchy potato noodles underneath.
Off to dessert, we were served a platter consisting of Count Chocula, Good Morning Vietnam and Last Samurai along with Sesame Street. These were not very sweet as the promised flavours on the menu came through. My favourite of the bunch was the Count Chocula since it had the most uniform taste with a nice bitterness from the chocolate accented by the tang and sweetness of the raspberries. The crunch the rice crispies didn't hurt either. Overall, this visit to Torafuku was better executed than the last time. Proteins were on point while any carbs were prepared properly too. I still think their overall seasoning is a little aggressive, but then again, the rest of the diners at the place didn't seem to mind.
*All food and beverages were complimentary*
- Bold flavours
- Ok pricing
- I found it a bit overseasoned