Jalan Batai is very different now compared to the last time I visited to dine at Sitka. The entire row of shops has been renovated and refurbished, with new coats of paint and a freshly tarred parking lot. It looks really classy now, and Japanese restaurant Torii fits right in with the aesthetic.
Unlike most other Japanese restaurants around town, the focus here is not on sushi or udon, but yakitori, which refers to grilled chicken skewers. In the case of Torii, they also serve a variety of different types of grilled skewers, ranging from meat to vegetables. However, there is no pork served at this restaurant. They do serve a range of Japanese whisky though.
There is also a Torii restaurant in Taman Tun, but the Jalan Batai outlet is the only one with a lunch set menu. The way it works is that you can pick and mix what you would like to have for lunch, from starters to base (usually rice/pasta/udon) to 'garnishing' (meat, etc.) and a choice between two desserts. The corresponding prices are listed on the menu - GST inclusive but a 10% service charge applies.
The appetizers - miso, chawanmushi and salad (RM6).
We shared the starter between the two of us. It's nice as an appetizer, with three different flavour combinations to whet your appetite. The salad is crisp and tangy, with some kind of soy-sauce based dressing. The miso is your standard fare, tasty with soft tofu chunks. Meanwhile, the chawanmushi was nice and creamy, topped with fish roe. The smooth texture contrasted well with the tiny roe pieces.
For my base, I chose the chilled hiyamugi pasta, which I believe is angelhair pasta, in a kind of savoury sauce, topped with tomato chunks. There were also some crunchy bits in the pasta that tasted similar to tempura batter. I liked the pasta, and the combination of textures and flavours suited my taste. But what a small serving! The bowl looked huge in comparison.
Now, onto the garnishing. Or as I imagine it, the main course to accompany your base. I decided to go with the grilled salmon, which arrived on a small plate with a little slice of lemon on the side. To be honest, I was very surprised by the serving - for RM16, I was expecting much more salmon. While the fish was fresh, I felt it was slightly overcooked.
The assortment of grilled skewers were a bit more interesting, but with a similarly small serving. The best of all of these would definitely be the beef - very tender and juicy. The quail eggs were tasty with its soy sauce topping, and the spices that went with the okra and mushrooms really brought out the flavours in the two ingredients. Delicious flavours, but again, too little of it for the price that was charged.
We were still hungry after finishing our meal, so we decided to try the dessert as well. We chose the fruit compote with ice cream and crumble. You can choose from five types of ice cream flavours, and we settled on dark chocolate. When the dish finally arrived, we were both taken aback - the serving was just a tiny scoop accompanied by a spoonful of crumble and half a strawberry. The only redeeming factor was how deliciously rich the dark chocolate was. And if you don't take alcohol or are allergic, be careful - the strawberry was soaked in it, but there was no indication of this in the menu.
Overall, lunch at Torii was tasty, but not enough to fill our bellies, especially for the pricetag. The servings were pathetically small, and though the food was good, I don't feel that the price was justified. I can only hope the a la carte menu is more satisfying than the lunch set. However, I don't think I will be visiting again to find out.