Monday, May 3, 2010

Toratatsu Japanese Tapas Bistro (CLOSED)


Toratatsu is one of many izakaya joints in Vancouver specializing in 'tapas' dishes, all the while serving up tasty cocktails and sake admist a vibrant and hip atmosphere.  It has been in operation for a few years now and is a sibling restaurant to the old Shiru-Bay Chopstick Cafe (Yaletown), which closed down a few years ago.  It's a nice deviant from the usual Guus, Hapas, etc. with a more spacious environment (than Guu) and a better value (than Hapa).


On this night, I arrived with a party of 4.  We ordered quite a variety and abundance of food.  Thought it'd best to summarize in note form:

Ebi Chili Mayo  - their most popular dish, huge plump tiger prawns wrapped in excellent batter coating
Cheese Tofu -  a super unique tofu made of creamy mascarpone tastes pretty much guilt-free since it's tofu-based but contradicting at the same time given its similarity to the taste of devonshire cream! my favourite of the night

Ishiyaki Risotto - served in a hot stone bowl, another one of their specialities - risotto with seared scallops, mushrooms and Iwanori seaweed - a little salty but definitely tasty

Cold Ramen Salad - generous portion and very refreshing, a little too drenched though

Sashimi Platter - oysters, albacore tuna and sockeye sashimi (choice of any 3), it was ok - sashimi wasn't extremely fresh though

Power Roll - bbq eel & cream cheese filled... and seared on top - lovely!

Creamy Crab Croquette - nicely battered and tasty filling! one of their daily specials


Typical izakaya prices


Attentive and polite, although language could be a bit of a barrier with some of the servers


We visited on a rainy Monday night, so restaurant was about 30% full - but otherwise on weekends, it's pretty bustlin'!

Overall: 7.8/10

Yay: Nice alternative to the Guus & Hapas, etc!

Nay: Sashimi isn't tooo fresh, parking, not ideal for groups of 15+

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Charlie's Restaurant & Bar (CLOSED)

gourmet artisan pizzas coming right at cha...


My nth birthday just recently passed and what better way to celebrate it than to gorge down heaping amounts of (what I always like to refer to as my second favourite food) pizza! Charlie's Restaurant recently opened up in the old Pinky's location, so I decided to venture out to Yaletown for some good ol' pies...

Scoe & I first started with the Beef Carpaccio, as well as the Beetroot Salad.  The carpaccio starter was nice and delicate -though a little stingy on the proportion size.  The Beetroot salad was refreshing - with orange, fennel, frisee and a goat cheese dressing. Now this portion size was plentiful and appetizing.

The highlights of the night were definitely the pies, though.  I opted for the popular Short Rib pizza (below) which also featured: tomato sugo, braised short ribs, caramelized onion, mozzarella, horseradish cream and green onions.  The combination of ingredients were impeccable.  The meat was tender and flavourful.  The crust was a nice fairly thin, crispy texture.  I should also note that it does contain horseradish cream which has quite the pronounced flavour. (Note: Wasabi is made of horseradish, so you can imagine how 'pronounced' of a flavour that can be!)  Nevertheless, I thought it paired very well with the short rib and the accompanying ingredients.

Scoe opted for the (above) Duck pizza (my second option) with porcini sauce, smoked duck, roast portabellini mushrooms, tallegio, radicchio and truffle oil.  His was less impressive as we both thought the meat was a bit dry (which ultimately, had an effect on the tasting of the pizza).  It was still okay, but we both definitely agreed that the Short Rib pizza was the better of the two.


Beef carpaccio ($13) - thumbs down for value.  Pizzas (both 11") were $16 and $14, respectively.  Not tooo steep, but note the location of the restaurant.


Had to diligently track down our server at times, but she has friendly and helpful.


Came here on a Friday night at about 8 pm, and the restaurant was 30% full (there was also a Canuck playoff home game). Nice, comfortable and very roomy black leather booth seatings. Loud music and a big tv screen.

Overall: 7.9/10

Yay: Delicious gourmet artisan pizzas. Hip ambience. 

Nay: Yaletown - parking.