An elegant, sushi-centric Japanese restaurant, Tora is tucked into a Gahanna strip center. The staff creates excellent sushi. Some offerings, such as the oyster salmon roll ($7.99), are exquisite in conception, execution and appearance.
An elegant, sushi-centric Japanese restaurant, Tora is tucked into a Gahanna strip center.
The staff creates excellent sushi. Some offerings, such as the oyster salmon roll ($7.99), are exquisite in conception, execution and appearance. A fresh oyster and a green shiso leaf are wrapped in smoked salmon and served with shredded daikon and a sweet, soy-based ponzu sauce.
The effect is a complex mix of tastes of the sea, accented by the nutty fragrance of the shiso leaf.
Even the less-exotic offerings are on a different plane from those of almost all Columbus-area sushi restaurants. For example, the California rolls on the midday sushi sampler ($10.99) are made with real crab and wrapped alongside avocado and cucumber.
The other elements of the sampler are also good. Pieces of spicy tuna roll have an unusual spark, while the tuna, salmon, yellowtail and shrimp maki pieces are boldly fresh.
Excellent sushi rolls include the eagle’s eye ($12.99). In place of rice and seaweed wrap, strips of cucumber embrace salmon, crab, avocado, masago caviar, radish sprouts and scallion. The presentation is striking: Each slice is skewered, and the slices are arranged on a round plate with a cupped center that holds a soy dipping sauce.
The refreshing lack of rice is complemented by the balance of flavors.
The in and out roll ($13.99) is complex with grilled eel, tuna, spicy crab stick and cucumber. The eel and the cucumber form an inner roll, and the other ingredients wrapped around the roll add to the visual appeal.
Tora makes one of the city’s best vegetable rolls (the vegan, $8.50). Shiso leaf combines wonderfully with plum paste to season cucumber, oshinko, gobo root and avocado. Colorful soy paper and a bit of rice form a wrapper.
The vegetable tempura ($6.99 as an appetizer) is well done, with a light, flaky and crisp coating.
The dramatically different sake pucks ($10.99) are made by wrapping avocado, crab and shrimp in salmon. They are served on a narrow, long plate with four sauces: blueberry, house-made mayonnaise, firecracker soy and light tartar.
Crab cakes ($8.99), made with plenty of shredded crab and seasoned with scallions, are fried dark and crisp. An excellent mango salsa adds interest.
One of the most interesting soups uses a daily-changing assortment of mushrooms. The one I tried had mostly shiitakes, presented in a small bowl, alongside a small teapot filled with a consomme.
The idea is to pour consomme over the mushrooms as you eat the soup to create a pronounced wild-mushroom taste in a light yet satisfying dish (mushroom soup, $4.99).
The house salad ($7.99) uses romaine lettuce and has a refreshingly tart soy-based dressing.
Step up by ordering the avocado salad ($8.99), with fanned slices of avocado on another of Tora’s unusual plates. In the center is a mound of seaweed salad with a better-than-average dressing. The avocado slices have dabs of house mayonnaise.
A worthwhile house-made dessert gives a tempura treatment to large slices of banana presented around vanilla ice cream and under a light whipped cream (banana fritters, $5.99).
The modest wine lineup includes two food-friendly pinot grigios. The Mezzacorona ($6) outperforms the Bollini ($9).