Food La La: Izakaya Torae Torae opens in McCully

Feb. 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

With my friends Jacie Katsuda, Avy Chan, and Kelly Loui.

(Courtesy Cory Mitsui)

BY LINDSEY MURAOKA / Special to the Star-Advertiser

I’m always on the lookout for new Japanese restaurants so I can eat fresh seafood at affordable prices. Last week, I checked out Izakaya Torae Torae at 1111 McCully St.

Torae Torae features an extensive menu of sushi, sashimi, and traditional Japanese dishes with creative twists by Executive Chef Hide Yoshimoto, formerly of Doraku. I attended the soft opening on Feb. 18 and tried a lot of dishes, so be prepared to feel hungry by the end of this blog post!

Executive Chef Hide Yoshimoto.

Executive Chef Hide Yoshimoto

The interior of Torae Torae is a mix of traditional and contemporary Japanese elements. There’s a sushi bar and wooden paneling on the walls covered with artwork by artists Andy Lee and Chanel Tanaka. Chef Hide’s plan is to showcase different artists every month.

Artwork on the left by Andy Lee and artwork on the right by Chanel Tanaka.

Artwork on the left by Andy Lee and artwork on the right by Chanel Tanaka

Artwork by Chanel Tanaka.

Artwork by Chanel Tanaka

The first dish my friends and I tried was the Yamaimo Onsen Tamago Salad ($8.50) made with local Ka Lei eggs and Nalo greens. The presentation of the dish is made to resemble a bird’s nest. I love onsen egg, so if you put that with any dish I will probably eat it. There’s just something so satisfying in that moment when you puncture the delicate egg with your chopstick and yolk comes oozing out.

Onsen Salad

These giant seafood shooters ($8 each) are filled with oyster, scallop, uni, shrimp and ikura with a citrusy ponzu sesame sauce.

seafood shooter

This is the Hideyoshi Roll ($7.95) aptly named after Chef Hide because it is the first roll he ever created. It’s simple, yet satisfying with spicy ahi, chiso, and a crunchy piece of takuan.

hideyoshi

The Lollipop Roll ($12.95) is a refreshingly fun appetizer filled with tuna, shrimp, crab mayo, salmon, tobiko, squid, shiso (basically everything delicious!) and wrapped in nori and cucumber.

lollipop

The Jidori Chicken Karaage ($6.50) is your quintessential crispy fried karaage that can be found at any izakaya.

chicken karaage

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

If you want chicken, I recommend getting the Curry Jidori Chicken ($7.95) instead because the curry flavor enhances the juicy pieces of chicken.

jidori

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

The Crispy Curry Baby Shrimp ($5.95) are a must-order too!

curry shrimp

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

The Hamburger Cheese Steak ($12.95) is a blend of Kulana beef and Shinsato pork filled with gooey mozzarella cheese.

hamburger steak

Out of all the non-seafood dishes that I tried, this was my favorite – slow cooked super tender Pork Belly Kakuni ($8.50) with daikon and another scrumptious onsen egg.

pork belly onsen

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

As soon as I saw this on the menu, I just knew I had to order it. Fried Uni and Shiromi Tempura ($12.95) with mentaiko-fried batter? Yes please!

shiromi tempura

The vibrantly colorful Chirashi Don ($12.50).

chirashi

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

Then heaven arrived at my table. My favorite thing to eat – fresh and creamy uni ($16.95)! I would’ve scooped it out like ice cream and ate it all if I didn’t have to share with my friends.

uni

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

Actually, all the sashimi we ordered was fresh and presented nicely. This is melt in your mouth happiness otoro ($31.95 for five pieces).

otoro

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

This is sweet pieces of Botan Ebi ($16.95 for 5 pieces).

shrimp

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

My favorite fish that I have to order whenever I eat sashimi is Hamachi ($11.95 for 5 pieces).

hamachi

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

I always order the Hamachi Kama too ($12.95). The pieces of fish were soft and flakey.

hamachi kama

(Courtesy Avy Chan)v

For dessert there is green tea gelato, black sesame gelato, or sorbet (flavor changes every week) locally made by La Gelateria. I ordered the creamy black sesame gelato which came with azuki beans ($3.75).

gelato

Photo by Avy Chan

My friend ordered the sorbet of the week which was a refreshing dragonfruit ($3.75).

dragonfruit sorbet

(Courtesy Avy Chan)

Overall, the quality of the food and the price were very good, so I’ll be returning often! There’s also a late night happy hour after 10 p.m. with dishes for $5 or less that I want to check out.  For more information, check out their Facebook page.
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Lindsey Muraoka blogs about food and drink for the Pulse. Contact her on Twitter or via email at foodlalablog@gmail.com.

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