Aburiya Toranoko

It’s been a long time.

Let’s see, so in between the last time I blogged (not counting the J Gold map) and today, life’s been…kind of busy. Between work, side projects, and you know…GETTING engaged, it’s been crazy busy. It’s a good thing twitter is a nice and simple platform for microblogging. Not to mention, my love affair with the Instagram iPhone app, blogging has almost become, dare I say, pointless?

But alas, sometimes it’s just good to do some good ole writing and after today’s visit to Aburiya Toranoko, the newest baby in Michael Cardenas’ Downtown LA empire, I thought it’d be a good time to revive this blog. Well, let’s not kid ourselves. I’ll probably post again in 2012.

Anyhow, on to the next one.

The sushi bar at Aburiya Toranoko

So first things first, this is less a review and more a preview of what’s available at Toranoko. I had the honor of being invited to friends and family night and we were given the opportunity to sample any and everything on the menu, gratis.

And as this was a preview night for friends and family, this really is not the right time to pass judgment, but as with my experience with Lazy Ox when it first opened, Cardenas runs a relatively tight ship on opening day.

In Michael’s words, “Lazy Ox is rock, Toranoko is hip hop” and that is indeed the case when you walk in. Old school hip hop is playing through the sound system and setting the tone for the evening while a massive piece of street art by Prime, a downtown graffiti artist, adorns the north wall. A large mirror overhanging the bar allows you to play voyeur around the room. In the main room, there are tables and booths along the walls while the center is split by a giant communal table that can seat at least 24 people (I didn’t count, so don’t hold me to this.) The rear of the restaurant is the sushi joint, featuring a 10 seat bar with a mother tiger holding a baby tiger designed by Jiro of Onitsuka Tattoo. The art on the bar (which for some reason reminded me of an Ed Hardy t-shirt), is also a Jiro creation. If you had to make analogy, you could say that Toranoko is like a mullet, business in the front and party in the back. Or maybe it’s just a party everywhere.

I see you

So what about the food? The menu is broken down into various sections. Apparently this only represents fifty percent of the menu, so like Lazy Ox, I expect that their menu will continually evolve and rotate through various dishes. For tonight’s tasting, we sampled a few dishes from each category

Vegetables

Nasu Dengaku baked in two ways, with white and red miso

New Union farms sizzling mushroom with red cheddar cheese tobanyaki

Both were tasty. I loved the broth that the mushrooms were cooked in. If only I had a bowl of rice, I’d soak all that sauce right up.

Next up is the seafood section. In addition to its varied seafood list, Toranoko offers has a “catch of the day” and a “fish of the day.”

House made shiokara marinated intestines

Nothing like eating intestines. Another dish that would’ve been great with rice.

Yanagita seafarms uni goma tofu

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