Happy September! During our hiatus, I went back to Vancouver and tried two new hot spots in the city.
After seeing all the drool-worthy photos on Instagram, my foodie friend and I ventured to the new Asian fusion restaurant, Torafuku (Japanese for “Lucky Tiger”) on Main Street near Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s been one of the latest hot spots to go to and we had been waiting for weeks to try their food. Their packed establishment, while new, may be attributed to the fandom of Le Tigre, the popular food truck company run by Torafuku’s co-owner.Since they don’t take reservations, which is becoming more common in downtown hotspots, we arrived at the restaurant closer to 6:30 pm and took our chances. Luckily, we were greeted immediately upon entering and escorted to the last table for two in the back corner. Seating is rather limited with larger, sharing-type tables, a few tables for two and four. I would suggest going there even before 6:30 pm to secure a spot for you and your dining guests.
Once you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice the simple, yet tidy decor speaks to the more relaxed dining environment. The open-kitchen attached to the bar made the environment lively, where patrons could easily interact with the chefs busy at work. I also noticed a popular Vancouver food blogger was also seated close by 🙂
The service was very attentive and one of the better ones that I’ve received in Vancouver. Our waitress came to check on us at least three times during our meal. She gave us some good recommendations, even though we sort of had an idea about which dishes we would order already from previous patrons. Most importantly, we didn’t feel rushed at all, despite there being a line-up on our way out.
My favourite dishes among the four that we ordered were the Kickass Rice 2.0 and the Rye So Messy – partly because of their awesome names but they were two solid dishes. The portions of both dishes were adequate as sharing plates for two.My friend and I were very excited to try the popular Kickass Rice 2.0 dish and to say the least, it did not disappoint! Each bite of the pork belly aburi had a burst of spicy, savoury, and sour flavours, but was not too overpowering.
I’m a huge fan of Southern-style Fried Chicken…it really is my ULTIMATE comfort food! Unfortunately the fried chicken skin served here wasn’t crispy enough, which would have made the dish a 9 out of 10. The sesame seeds and ramen crumbs however gave it some crunch and was a nice twist on the classic fried chicken dish.I love the name of this dish too, “This is not Tortellini”, which consists of pork dumplings with shiso, ginger, garlic and scallion. I would have to say this tasted like the typical potsticker, but I really enjoyed the sweetened beet puree and steamed vegetables.The last dish we ordered was the calamari salad. The calamari was deep-fried well – chewy on the inside and a little bit crispy on the outside. Topped with a sweet chilli dressing, the calamari was also balanced well with onions, tomatoes, and fresh arugula. Though I enjoyed the calamari texture, I thought it was underseasoned and the sweetness of the lychee did not match well with the savoury and tangy flavours of the calamari and squid. Perhaps this one was my least favourite dish; I would have liked it more if the lychees were replaced with another fruit that was mildly sweet, such as sliced apples.On average, the prices were roughly $10-12 per dish. For the portion size of these sharing plates, those with bigger appetites may leave craving for more. We actually headed to Rain or Shine Ice Cream afterwards! Though it wasn’t exactly bang for your buck, the friendly service and creatively executed dishes might entice you to come back. I’m excited to see what they will be adding to their menu in the near future!
AnnaLennaMy family and I went to the upscale AnnaLenna Restaurant in Kitsilano for a special occasion. We were very excited to try this restaurant since it’s been voted #1 in Vancouver! The decor was a little bit mismatched yet quirky, with pieces of lego and vintage gameboys on the shelf as you enter the doorway. The black booths where we were seated provided a more classic and contemporary feel and were very comfortable. I loved the natural lighting from the open patio and the nice summer breeze.Serving primarily Canadian West Coast cuisine, AnnaLenna offers a very limited selection of 15 dishes on their menu. The waitress explained to us that all of the menu items were intended to be sharing-type dishes, recommending 2 dishes per person; however, we thought 8 dishes in total would be a little much for the four of us. One of my favourite dishes was the heirloom tomato salad. I’m not a big fan of cheese, however, the soft burrata cheese complemented the texture of the tomato and the crispiness of the house cured bacon. This is the perfect summer dish that I will be definitely ordering again in the future! There were not many vegetable options, so we ordered the kale salad. After discussing with my guests, we felt that the ginger tahini dressing was a bit too creamy and the salad was overseasoned with salt, making it a heartier appetizer. I really enjoyed the fried cauliflower because it provided a sweet caramelized flavour to balance off the saltiness. I appreciated the different elements that were involved in creating this dish, for example, the potato chips topping the salad were a nice surprise providing desirable crunch and texture.Since I’m allergic to a lot of different types of shellfish, fish is one of the staples I can eat safely without getting a bad reaction. One of my favourite types of seafood is salmon, which the wild trout that we ordered tasted very similar to. The crust on the trout was perfectly seared (not one bit burnt) for that extra crunch. We also ordered another seafood dish which was the scallops. The puffed rice cereal was an interesting accompaniment on the dish and provided some nice texture overall. However, the seared scallops, though cooked well, missed its mark with its seasoning and was underwhelming in flavour. While both dishes were beautifully presented, our expectations were not met with the smaller portion sizes and value of the dishes. Two other honourable mentions belong to the tamari-marinated grilled pork belly and the wagyu beef short ribs – the highlights of the night! Pork belly is usually a fattier and heavier Chinese dish but the pairing of oat porridge and cooked beets made the dish less decadent and rich. The caramelized flavours of the pork belly provided a sweet flavour that matched well with the umami flavours of the meat. Similarly, the wagyu short rib was another stand-out dish which was extremely tender and cooked perfectly medium rare. The peppercorn jus also didn’t overwhelm the natural flavour of the beef and its melt-in-your-mouth texture will leave you wanting more!Unfortunately, we passed on the dessert of either grapefruit semifreddo or chocolate custard because we already bought a cake to eat at home. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this special dining experience at AnnaLenna, especially the choice of dishes offered. Despite having a more limited menu, most of the dishes were high-quality and signature dishes. I really look forward to trying their brunch menu and desserts one day.