After running some errands for my sister at Aberdeen Centre, I found myself stuck at the mall with no target restaurant for my sushi adventure. I had forgotten to do my research! I pulled out my phone and tried to do a search on Zomato for the nearest sushi restaurants, but after waiting a minute for the search results to load, my Wi-Fi disconnected. Thanks, Shaw Open. After a few more unsuccessful tries, I decided to pull out my hair instead. However, there was a silver lining. Just as I was about to exit the mall, I tried the search one more time and was able to find Torarenbo.
Like many other Japanese restaurants in Richmond, Torarenbo operates at the higher end of the price scale, but it is comfortable, cozy, and adequately spacious inside. This pleasant atmosphere was paired with some melancholy Japanese pop music. I am not sure what's up with the sadness in Japanese music. First, I had to endure the tragic koto music at Kuma, and now this. Directing my attention elsewhere, I opened the menu and found my beloved fancy nigiri, but surprisingly, there was no teriyaki on the menu despite this being a Chinese-operated restaurant. There were, however, some robata items.
Unagi Tempura Roll - B+
Not wanting the bill to explode, I went with the Unagi Tempura Roll, which came with unagi tempura, tamago, avocado, and cucumber. The unagi tempura was sweet and lightly crispy, and the thin layer of avocado, which surrounded most of the filling, enhanced the sweetness of the roll. They were quite conservative with the unagi sauce, so it tasted slightly underwhelming without copious amounts of soy sauce.
Unagi Nigiri - B-
Tai Belly Nigiri - A-
Toro Nigiri - A-
Saba Nigiri - A-
Sockeye Salmon Nigiri - B+
To get a sense of the prices here, this plate of nigiri cost me more than $12. I am not kidding. The unagi was not particularly soft and did not have much of a smoky flavour. Upon the waitress' recommendation, I decided to try the Tai Belly Nigiri (a daily special), and it fared much better. It had a soft, somewhat flaky texture and exhibited a delectable, well-rounded sweetness. The Toro Nigiri was also decent and featured a very smooth, melty texture. The Saba Nigiri had a well-balanced flavour and a soft texture. The sockeye salmon was not the most flavourful I have had, but at least it was soft. Each piece demonstrated a good fish-to-rice ratio and came with well-formed sushi rice.
Ebi Mayo - B-
The Ebi Mayo came with 6 prawns, which were not especially large. The batter was slightly overused, and the prawns were overdone, making them chewy. However, the bubbly mayonnaise (there were very tiny pearls in it) went well with the savoury flavour of the prawns. The Ebi Mayo also comes with a green salad, which was ironically better than the Ebi Mayo itself.
Seafood Motoyaki - A
The Seafood Motoyaki was the highlight of the evening. It arrived very hot and came with a good amount of seafood, which included baby shrimps, oyster, mushrooms, and what tasted like lots of salmon. The soft custard was graced with crispy edges and some garlic sprinkles on top to enhance flavour. It was slightly heavy on the oil, but all the flavours worked together very nicely.
Black Sesame Ice Cream - A-
After finishing all the food above, I was presented with a Black Sesame Ice Cream on the house! It was sweet and had a nice ground sesame texture. Furthermore, it was served at the right temperature (ahem, Yokohama).
The service was some of the friendliest I have ever received at any Chinese-operated restaurant. Although the prices were high, the quality of food was decent, and higher prices are the norm for the area. I wouldn't say that the food was amazing, but if you must have sushi in Richmond, Torarenbo is one of the better places to dine at.