French flair with a dose of Japanese panache
Torishou, a beloved yakitori spot on Changle Road, doesn't limit itself to high-quality Japanese offerings. Its counterpart, the recently opened Le Bistrot de Torishou, shows its ambition toward a French experience.
Owner William Zhang, a restaurateur who owns several food and beverage concepts in town, took over the space that used to house STYX inside Yongping Lane complex on Hengshan Road.
The restaurant faces the inner courtyard, and Zhang transformed it into a typical French bistro mimicking those that face the street in Paris.
The interior, with a petite Parisian vibe, features intimate seatings, an open-view kitchen and a wine cellar. The dimly lit, cozy atmosphere guarantees an ideal night to kick back and chill. Meanwhile, the outdoor tables in the lovely courtyard are perfectly poised to provide the city's diners a welcome respite.
The traditional bistro, with its hearty fare, is an archetype of Paris dining, but Zhang's bistro concept integrates French fare and Japanese yakitori with a good list of French wines and premium Japanese sake.
The compact menu for the soft opening is laden with classic comfort French dishes, including homemade pate, beef tartare, cheese platter and duck confit.
I started off with Allium porrurm salad (leek salad). Leeks are a staple in France, used throughout the long French winters to make soup and complement hearty meat stews. But the subtle complexity of the vegetable also makes a nice appetizer together with mustard vinaigrette – a special kind of grace with the simple combination of a few ingredients.
There are also more innovative appetizers, such as homemade razor clam and pickled clams with Japanese whiskey that appeal to more Asian palates.
Before choosing a main dish, I recommend enjoying a couple glasses of wine together with the yakitori chicken and vegetable skewers. Choices are plentiful: chicken wings, tenderloins, liver, heart and skins.
There are three choices for main courses right now. Among them, Pigeon pithiviers is a classic French dish worth trying. A pithivier is a round, domed pastry pie traditionally made from puff pastry that often contains sweet or savory fillings. Here, the finest pigeon meat, together with a piece of foie gras, is wrapped in a delicate puff pastry cooked "in crusts."
A bite into the juicy game meat with a buttery crust makes an unforgettable meal.
Opening hours: 5:30pm-1am
Address: Unit 108, Bldg 2, 199 Hengshan Rd
Average price: 280 yuan (US$43.38)