As a big fan of the Lazy Ox (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/703721), I decided to try the new restaurant by the same owner....right next door...
Service: B+ (friendly but a bit all over the place)
Would I go back?: Not running
Atmo: B+ (a nice vibe)
Full Menu: http://www.toranokola.com/menu/torano... (sneaky how no prices appear)
Price: $150 (2 people) including tip
What we drank: Asahi beer
Notes: LA Times SIV was in the house, I guess preparing for a review...i spotted her thanks to all the recent press about her photo being exposed....everytime I turned around she was sitting there sipping her tea staring off into space - kind of funny. She was accompanying by 2 quriky individuals. I pointed her out to the owner -- he had already recognized her as well...look for review soon.
What we ate:
Snow crab & jelly fish w/ cucumber sunomono (B) $9
I like the firm texture of jellyfish and it was paired nicely with chunks of snow crab bathed in soy. It was tasty, but a very small bowl.
Tiger shrimp Tempura w/ curry aioli (B) $16
The curry ailoli dipping sauce was a nice touch to this fairly common dish of shrimp tempura. The shrimp were a bit overcooked - something you don't normally notice when eating shrimp tempura. Also, I was just looking at a menu that Kevin Eats posted from the restaurant and it listed the item at $12 -- last month. I am guessing that this became a popular dish and they jacked up the prices - not cool - especially for what is essentially basic shrimp tempura
Baked Black Cod marinated in sweet miso glaze (B) $9
The problem with this dish was not the taste -- it was good, but the portion size was once again on the small side. I mean this is a restaurant people go to in a group, and this barely fed myself, let alone my wife. Please note I would not have got this basic, always the same dish, but wife did want it and Valentine's Day is approaching
Yanagita seafarms Uni Goma Tofu (A-) $8
Unique dish that I wish would have set the tone for all the other plates. It was a piece of tofu made with toasted seasame seeds so it had a rich, nutty flavor -- topped with a small piece of uni. The sauce was a soy concoction -- that at this point had also found itself in 2 of the dishes mentioned above
on to the Sumiyaka skewers....
Kobe Beef with Garlic and Wasabi (B) $9
Wife seemed to enjoy this skewer. I tasted one of the tiny pieces and it was relatively soft -- but not enough to proclaim "this was melt-in-your-mouth kobe!"
before I continue...shouldn't it really be 2 skewers per order??
Wing (B+) $5
Good, decent char
Eringe Mushroom (B) $5
Fatty Pork (B) $5
It is a pretty rich skewer, but the pork had a nice snap and tasted fresh (I have noticed that when I eat a fatty piece of pork in the past you can really judge the freshness of the piece -- freezer burn especially)
Liver (A) $3
The cheapest thing on the menu and also by far the best....this could have been called foie gras, as this liver was creamy and mild. Highly recommend
Chicken Thigh (B-) $3
A bit too fatty for thigh portion
Ankimo - Monkfish liver pate w/mustard,vinegar and miso sauce (B+) $6
Spicy Tuna Cut roll $8
Very pedestrian, very small - I told the owner this needs to improve (i didn't call him out to tell him this, but when he came by). The roll came out in literally 2 minutes after being ordered - which tells me one thing -- it was pre-made.
Tamago (A-) $4
Masago (B+) $5
It's masago - it always tastes the same!
and for dessert we had the Green Tea Pudding (A-) -- an impressive dessert