Note: Torii in Taman Tun Dr Ismail is now closed, but its outlet on Jalan Batai remains open.
Wet weather accompanies many of life’s greatest pleasures – tea, spooning, TV show reruns and Japanese food. We visit Torii on a pouring weeknight when the height of our Japanese cravings have reached insatiability. It’s packed to the very last chair, but we’re compensated with a seat at the bar facing the open kitchen.
The city’s newest yakitori addition is as sleek and shiny as the back of a metal spoon, enhanced by a private room finished with leather armchairs and a chocolate overtone. (Prior booking is required to dine in the private room.) Torii is part whisky bar and bottles of the premium Japanese variety are displayed in locked glass canisters, much like the outside of a jewellery shop.
The food is similarly modern; the tapas-sized Torii burger (wagyu, caramelised onions, spinach and foie gras on scones) is particularly outstanding. Tenderness, sweetness and richness marry in holy matrimony, a case for the reliability of simple, classic flavours. From then on, our subsequent orders are well executed even if they don’t manage to sway us quite so boldly – the steamed duck egg custard with foie gras is a must-order, the bonded unagi and foie gras is sweet and melting, the baked avocado with miso borders on moreish, the bincho rice is crisp and unyielding, and the crustacean bisque is robust if a bit overseasoned. We relish it all – in the rain, everything rich, baked and creamy symbolises safety.
The expansive yakitori section is equally pulsating with contemporary items like short ribs and wings slathered in marinade. We zero in on the chicken skin (Plaza Damansara’s Kinme offers a less cloying version), smoked duck with Welsh onion (maintains a distinct smokiness) and aubergine (remarkably creamy). Dessert is necessary to cut through the richness but our raw lime cheesecake is weighted by too much gelatin, a sorry hap next to the divine (Forty Licks) apricot ice cream. But despite all that, Torii is a well-intentioned yakitori bar, and we leave in better spirits than the rain might have otherwise instilled.
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18 Jalan Datuk Sulaiman 1