Torafuku/Brown Cow

My, the boys behind Le Tigre food truck have definitely upped their game. It took a few years to source and prepare the space that’s now Torafuku, a busy restaurant located along Main Street’s small but serviceable eatery row north of Broadway, south of downtown.

Steve Kuan and Clement Chan from Le Tigre Cuisine food truck
[Steve and Clement back from their Le Tigre days circa 2013]

Award-winning Executive Chef Clement Chan’s a born and raised Vancouverite, trained at Vancouver Community College, honing his culinary chops at Chambar, Blue Water Cafe and Hapa Izakaya. Honourable milestones include representing Canada at the World Culinary Olympics, appearing on Food Network, Eat St. and Top Chef Canada as well as being crowned Chef of the Year.

Taipei-born General Manager Steve Kuan gained experience at Cioppino’s and later at Hyatt Regency Vancouver, where he met Clement. Steve also completed his red seal certificate under Bruno Marti at La Belle Auberge. Four years ago, the two founded Le Tigre, a popular food truck that’s garnered a loyal following.

Torafuku/atmosphere by the kitchen

And now, we enter this modern, industrial room, not surprisingly packed by 7 pm on a Friday night. A mix of 70’s old school funk and current tunes keeps the energy flowing. From the 16-person long table up front, your eyes move right to the center bar and open kitchen, equally hopping with diners seated around the bar as well as at several booths off to either side.

The dinner menu features 14 dishes and two desserts, the drink menu a wealth of spirits, sakes, red, white and sparkling wines plus beer on draft and by the bottle. Cider and mocktails round out a drink menu that will appeal to all tastes. The menu changes seasonally however a few Dine Out faves are kept on the current menu by popular demand.

Torafuku/Shogun 75, Ipanema Sunset
[L to R: Shogun 75, Ipanema Sunset]

We start with a Shogun 75 (an Asian twist on the French 75) that’s a refreshing mix of Absolut Vodka, green tea syrup, yuzu, kaffir lime, basil, smoked pear bitters and sparkling wine, served in a dainty engraved glass.

Bartender Max Borrowman’s no stranger to the restaurant industry, having worked at hot spots such as Hotel Eldorado in Kelowna, Oak Bay Marina Restaurant and the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, where he learned from a couple of the best, Grant Sceney and Jacob Sweetapple.

My husband’s Ipanema Sunset contains Novo Fogo Cachaça, Giffard Banane du Bresil, lemon, 33 Acres of Ocean Pale Ale, cayenne and sea salt. It’s a refreshing, sweet and slightly bitter way to kick off a round of tasty shared plates yet to come. And out they come, one by one, in no particular order (the restaurant’s menu states that the plates will come to your table as they’re ready).

Torafuku/Nice to Meat You

A unique curved ceramic plate and a pair of black chopsticks is at each place setting; once we dig into the Rye So Messy chicken wings, a 2015 Chicken Fight Best Dish, the food gets picked up by hand and straight to the mouth, little need for those plates.

Torafuku/Rye So Messy chicken wings
[Rye So Messy]

The ramen crumble is fabulous when chef Chan’s trademark ‘kfc sauce’ meets it, allowing a knock-out punch of tastes to burst onto your palate. Same goes for the Nice to Meet You, a hearty eat-with-your-fingers plate of “Bang bang” sweet and sour pork ribs, spicy peanut brittle and cucumber salad.

Torafuku/Nice to Meat You
[Nice to Meat You]

Torafuku/Kickass Rice 2.0
[Kickass Rice 2.0: Aubrey style torched pork belly sushi]

Torafuku/Wannabe Carbonara
[Wannabe Carbonara: Handmade pasta, local squash, sage, bonito, double smoked bacon]

It quickly dawns on us that this chef loves working with textures and flavour combinations. Every dish we try (we managed to share five) is tasty, completely delicious and unique.


For dessert, we order both offerings: oolong-infused yuzu jello with condensed milk ice cream, crispy salted caramel pearls and pretty lilac edible flowers and the Magic Stick.

Torafuku/Magic Stick
[Magic Stick]

Torafuku’s Magic Stick contains chocolate ganache, hazelnut feuilletine, matcha crumble and a small mound of almond ice cream. The matcha crumble is addictive and is perfectly matched with a pot of green tea that I’ve been enjoying in between sips of the Shogun 75.

Torafuku/The All England Club
[The Old England Club]

To top off the meal, my husband orders The Old England Club, Max Borrowman’s winning entry into last year’s Beefeater MIXLDN Global Bartender Competition. Created with Beefeater gin, strawberry butter-infused Beefeater 24, cream of Earl Grey-infused Amaro Montenegro, Maiden Dry Vermouth and five-spice tincture, it’s a hearty drink for sure.


Prepare to have your taste buds mind-blown here. Located at 958 Main Street, Torafuku’s open Tuesday through Sundays from 5:30 to 10 pm. Reservations are accepted via phone or email.

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