I admit I've only ever heard of Le Tigre ( founders Steve Kuan + Clement Chan's first business) and never really had the opportunity to visit the famous food truck but once word hit the internet that there was going to be a brick and mortar by the same people, I knew I had to put it on my list of to-go's. After much anticipation, they've finally held their grand opening this past Friday and.. you guessed it: I had to go to witness all the hype for myself. Torafuku (寅福) in Japanese means lucky tiger and from that alone, I could get the feel that Torafuku would be into the Asian inspired modern food trend. As you'll see from some of the menu options below, the dishes are what I would consider Japanese nouveau and also follow the izakaya trend of offering share-able food options to pair with drinks.
kickass rice 2.0
aburi style torched pork belly with kickass rice in a box @ 10
4.5/5 - The description is slightly decieving as J and I thought the rice would actually be in a box - not shaped like a box. But hey, turns out that this kickass rice is a spin-off of aburi oshi sushi (my fav) so I'm not complaining. The lightly torched pork belly was quite fatty and the meltiness of this layer replicates the aburi effect on oshi sushi. The slice of jalapeno and dabs of sauce on top remind me of the oshi sushi from sushi favourte destination such as Minami, Miku, and Kishimoto. The rice isn't as sticky as typical sushi rice but it's simple flavour goes well with the whole bite.
"calamari" done the right way
humboldt squid, onion, tomato, lychee, arugula, sweet chilli dressing @ 10
3/5 - Hm for me it was more like "calamari" done a different way. My initial taste of the squid was okay but I realized that the squid was kinda mushy as opposed to the crunchy chewiness of cooked squid normally. I liked the batter and the bits of spice on it but overall I found the squid texture to be odd and too bland for my liking. I'm still not too sure how the squid, onion, lychee, and arugula work together. For me, the sweetness of lychee and the pungent/bitterness of arugula is quite odd on the same plate. Other than the small pieces of lychee, there wasn't much presence of its flavour anywhere on the plate.
braised duck leg, bean sprouts, leeks, scallions, seasonal veggies, yummy tonkotsu broth, fried egg @ 12
4/5 - Not your traditional ramen broth or noodles but it doesn't taste too bad. The soup is rich and milky but not too salty. The noodles themselves are less starchy than noodles you may find at Santouka or Marutama but they taste decent and the egg here is fried rather than soft boiled (which you'll usually find in traditional ramen). I quite enjoyed it all but the portion was smaller than expected, there was almost not enough soup for me, and I missed my soft boiled egg :(
My first visit to Torafuku on their grand opening day was brief and I only had the chance to try 3 dishes and 2 beers due to my schedule that day. The menu offerings are definitely creative/different and are more catered towards foodies who are more adventurous and like to eat in groups - I see Torafuku to be a more creative and modern Western version of Guu. I do love the design of not only the restaurant itself, but the brand and the food (makes my design senses tingle a bit) and the environment here is something I don't mind returning to. I would however, prefer the restaurant be a lot brighter as the current dimness of the restaurant combined with the open bar/kitchen setting (that is kinda noisy) is a bit distracting for me. A lot of cool things are going on here but I think I'll need a few more visits before I can get a solid opinion about this place.
All that aside though, Chinatown is getting some pretty cool eateries!
R E V I E W.
+ food quality: 8/10
+ service: 8.25/10
+ price/affordability: 7.5/10
+ atmosphere: 9/10
+ overall: 8.25/10