Hmmm … come to think of it, I hardly ever go to a Japanese restaurants. I mean, I do but it’s just that its not on my list of to-try restaurants. Most of the time I ever go to one is for Nanzaro and Arkensen. Both of them love sushi. They can eat sushi (and the Big Mac and Salted Fish Fried Rice) everyday if we just feed them nothing else but that.
And come to think of it too, there are also a lot of good Japanese restaurants in Richmond. Surprising isn’t it? Some of the very highly rated ones has to include Seto and Hachi … which is also expensive. Oh … Bonqula ranks very highly in our books too. It is sad that Bonqula had just recently closed. I heard that it is because of a death in the family. They did say that they *might* open again. I hope they do.
There are other pretty good Japanese restaurants too. Some of which that came to mind are Nan Chuu, G-Men, Gyo-O and Guu in Aberdeen … most of which I had never been to before. The rest of the restaurants are faux Japanese ones, mostly operated by Chinese.
Yeah … Torarenbo is one of those Japanese restaurants that we suspected could be a Chinese owned one. So, there are some trepidations when we went to Torarenbo for the first time. But Arkensen wanted sushi and we had not gone for Japanese for a while already. Moreover we are lazy to drive far.
Torarenbo is located in the strip mall on Park Road which hosts a mix of good (Chen’s), cheap (Tai Hing) and ho-hum (Happy Date) restaurants. We often come to this strip mall when we wanted to pick up the odd groceries from the supermarket there.
Parking is not the easiest here. It is perpetually full but the turnover is quite OK. There are two lanes only here. My trick is to take the outer lane (the one closest to Park Road) as it serves two rows of parking spots. It never fails. 🙂
I like the setting inside. Like all Japanese restaurant worth its salt, they holler greetings the moment you walk in.
From the moment we walked in, both Suanne and I were trying to see if they speak Cantonese or Japanese. Yeah, we were curious. The people who worked there sure has a more Chinesey facial features and indeed we overheard the waiters and waitresses talking in Cantonese.
There is also a sushi bar. See that gentleman in gray sweaters? He was speaking in Japanese to the older chef at the counter. So, what would you make of it? LOL!
Service is very good … very prompt and very polite just like you expect in a Japanese restaurant, regardless if this is Chinese owned or not.
I think … but correct me if I am wrong … that the plastic tube addition to the teapot spout above is a Chinese “invention”. He he he … this is commonly seen in Chinese dim sum restaurants.
Their menu is colorful and it is the same as the takeout menu you see above (the menu above is clickable to show a larger version, BTW).
But other than that, it is mostly the normal Japanese fare, nothing much fancy. What I like a lot is their prices. There are other places that are cheaper but for a setting like this, I find the prices are lower than I expected.
Someone commented on chowtimes before saying that Torarenbo has the Cold Wheat Soba. That was when I wanted to find out more about this. So, my mind was set on getting it here.
Torarenbo’s menu calls this the Terizaru Udon/Soba or Tempura with Cold Noodle and it is $8.
The cold noodle is served on a bed of ice to keep it cold. However, I find that the melting ice kind of makes the noodles a lot wetter than I had preferred.
This is not the first time I had the cold wheat soba. The first time I had this was in Yakko Sushi in Station Square about two months ago. The texture of the noodles at Yakko was better than I had it here.
On the side is a saucer that includes a raw quail egg, toasted sesame seeds, wasabi and chopped green onions. I had to ask the waitress how this works. The ones I had in Yakko Sushi does not have this.
Well, I just had to throw them all into the dipping sauce (called soba tsuyu).
I like the dipping sauce this way a lot more. It was generally much better than Yakko except for the noodles.
Most Chinese do not like cold noodles. Traditionally noodles must be served hot, the hotter the better. Like most Chinese, Suanne can’t stand the idea of eating cold noodles. Especially when it sits on a bed of ice … noodles at room temperature is tolerable but not ice cold ones. She took just a mouthful to patronize me and said … “it’s OK”. She did not tell the truth.
Oh … my cold noodles also has tempura on the side. It was quite a lot too. It wasn’t super great or anything like that … it was just good.
Yeah, Suanne always goes for the Chinesey type of Japanese food. She doesn’t even like sushi at all, not to mention sashimi.
So she ordered the Chicken Teriyaki Combo ($8.50) which is what she wanted — cooked food.
This is a good deal because the combo also includes two pieces of California roll, one piece each of Tuna, Salmon and Kappa maki roll.
It also included a plate of tempura (smaller than mine).
And orange slices for dessert.
And miso soup.
The Teriyaki chicken is served on top of some mix vegetables salad. It was a lot of food for sure.
We thought this is a nice combo, although unexciting for me. Definitely value for money.
Arkensen had the Crunch and Munch Combo ($9.50).
It consists of Salmon Cheese Roll, Dynamite Roll and Egg Sushi.
Arkensen like the one above saying he know now why they call this the “munch and crunch”.
It was a nice filling lunch for the three of us. Nanzaro was away attending a training camp and am sure he is gonna read this blog post and complain why we had to choose a sushi place when he is not around. LOL!