The Place Located at a corner of Tras Street, I checked out the two months old Torasho Ramen & Charcoal Bar recently, a modern izakaya restaurant which specialises in charcoal grilled dishes and ramen. The contemporary looking restaurant has both outdoor and indoor seats, and is helmed by Head Chef Sho Naganuma, former Executive Chef at Hide Yamamoto at Marina Bay Sands.
The Food A quick glance at the menu and my first thought was that it is quite extensive and spans across appetisers, ramen and robata (grilled items). For drinks, there is also a good selection of sake, shochu and whisky cocktails. The dishes are less traditional Japanese style, but rather it takes on more Southeast Asian elements to appeal more to the region’s palate.
I stated with the addictive Wagyu Chips (S$8), fried with beef fat and finished with white truffle shio konbu. The chips are thick and good.
The ‘Som Tum’ Unagi Taco (S$15) is an interesting twist of the usual tacos. You get fried Unagi garnished with ‘Som Tum’ green papaya salad on a bed of pappadum instead of the traditional corn tacos. Surprisingly, this was quite enjoyable.
Other appetisers I had were the Ikura Nachos (S$12) with pappadum, and the Uni Pillow (S$15/piece) with nori tempura, shiso flower and truffle kombu. I enjoyed both of these snacks, especially the Uni Pillow which burst with umami flavours.
Also from the small plates menu, the Noble Scallops (S$27) is slightly pricey but it comes with two huge shells of Japanese scallops. The scallops are soaked in a mix of sake, mirin and butter sauce, which is really quite buttery in flavour.
As the only yakitori on the menu, the Tikka Yakitori (S$4/stick) is an Indian twist to the usual chicken stick as it is served with two types of sauces – cashew and rechado chilli. The meat is quite tender and the sauces definitely elevate the flavour better.
For rice, I had the Bak Kut Teh Donabe (S$28), a familiar local Singapore take on Japanese rice. The dish uses Akita rice along with charcoal chashu, garlic and onion. While the rice has a nice moist texture and is quite aromatic, I find it too peppery which makes it quite singular in flavour. Perhaps a herbal Bak Kut Teh take might be more appetizing?
Another fusion dish I had was the Truffle Baby Chick (S$38). Truffle seems to work magic, though I was slightly letdown by this take on Indian biryani. The whole baby chicken with truffle biryani lacks the oomph I expected in terms of the biryani flavour, but I do think it will be a hit for some. Though for me, wouldn’t mind if Torasho step up more on the Indian spices.
For ramen options, there are 9 types to choose from in 3 categories – Dry ramen, Dipping ramen or Soup ramen.
One of us went for the Truffle Tonkotsu (S$18), a combination of truffle ragout, nori, charcoal pork chashu. You get a tinge of truffle flavour here in a rich tonkotsu broth. The pork chashu was quite tender as well, and very well grilled with the char sides.
I went for the Uni & Ikura (S$34), as I couldn’t resist this combination. At the price, you are really paying up for the Uni. The ramen is topped with Uni & Ikura sashimi and nori, accompanied by a bowl of Uni dipping sauce.
It is like tsukemen, though I find that the Uni dipping sauce lacks the intense Uni flavour I was expecting. For better value, skip this.
Rants As with most restaurants attempting fusion food, there are hits and misses. Though Torasho might be better off focusing on dishing out familiar Japanese dishes, with some minor tweaks to surprise diners, as opposed to deviating away from its core. That’s our take at least.
Will I Return Again? I like the twists that Torasho tries to put into each dish, and surprisingly the appetisers left a deeper impression on me than the big plates. If you like Japanese food, this is a casual restaurant to check out in Tanjong Pagar.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Torasho Ramen & Charcoal Bar
32 Tras Street
Tel: +65 6970 5055
Monday to Saturday: 11:30am to 12am
Closed on Sunday
Ranted by The Ranter