Restaurant

El Torizo, Now You Can Eat Like a Sumo Wrestler

One of the very few, if not the only a couple places in not only Orange County but SoCal and possibly on the entire West Coast where you can eat chanko nabe, the dish most often associated with sumo wrestlers.

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Before you start calling the newly opened restaurant “El Torizo”, I just nicknamed it that because its names likeness with El Torito.

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I’m in the corner seat facing the entrance which is what Jason Bourne would do. Just like him, I know with my keen sense of observation that the entrance is at my 12 o’clock, a Japanese couple is at my 11 o’clock, and two more diners are at my 9 o’clock who came in with a Lexus IS-F. I might not be able to tell you if the waiter is right-handed or left-handed, but I can say that I’ve come to one of the only places in Orange County with nabe, especially chanko-nabe.

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If the picture looks slightly blurry at the top, it’s most likely your vision because you’re tearing up at the sight of some delicious chanko-nabe pictures, except you’re also wondering “what exactly is it”? (you’re also wondering how do I know all of this).

Chanko-nabe is “chan” (father) “ko” (children) and “nabe” (pot) is the breakdown of the word.

Nabemono is “one pot” cooking (if you’ve ever heard of sukiyaki, that falls under this category). In the nabe, all the ingredients get thrown in all together. So if your pops has no clue as to what he’s doing, and he’s got to cook dinner, all he has to do is throw in all the ingredients.

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Started things off with a complimentary hakusai tsukemono (pickled cabbage). Something I’ve eaten tons of growing up because my gramps was a farmer, and I really liked theirs.

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They had numerous small dishes ranging from aburi shimesaba (marinated mackerel), oknonomiyaki (its like a pancake but with meat, veggies, and sometimes noodles), bonito tataki (seared fish) to tontoro (fatty pork) $8.5.

The tontoro preparation wasn’t as straight forward as I had assumed it was going to be which is a good thing. Biting into that nice slab of pork, it appeared to have a glaze of some sorts which paired nicely with the side of yuzu kosho and pepper.

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The Torizo Chanko nabe $26.99 is filled with chicken broth, vegetables, pieces of chicken, thin slickes of black pork (kurobuta), black pork sausage, shumai, shrimp, scallop, octopus, kuzukiri and two types of flavored chicken meatballs (shiso and yuzu tsukune). I didn’t count how many pieces of each you get, but there were a few items I had wished there were more of it.

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Those menu pics are extremely misleading because it shows the ingredients bustling out of the pot with the Torizo nabe having a substantially sized octopus arm. I’m not totally expecting all that (ok! I lie, I was, so I’m kind of let down), but can you not depict the food to look somewhat like what you’re going to get because a couple of slices of octopus just isn’t the same. That’s just not a good way at managing my expectations.

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This is the picture they have on their website and on Facebook to depict the Torizo chanko-nabe. Photo by Torizo Chanko Dining.

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Johnny Cash may have called this a “burning ring of fire”, but mainstream Murica calls this a “liability”.

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Additional ingredients can be added such as: chicken meatballs for $4.5, seafood moriawase $8.50, vegetables $4, kuzukiri $2.5, risotto set $5, chicken and pork $5, black pork sausage $4, soup $3.5, and ramen noodles $3.5.

They need to have some accurate accompanying pictures, so that you’ll know how much you get for your money.

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That’sa one tasty meatball. No complaints here, and this gives me a reason to go back.

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After looking back at the chanko-nabe menu, I’m not sure if I can believe the pics for the ramen because the chanko-nabe pics were off. All I got to say about the ramen pics is that if I’m paying anywhere from $10.25 to $13.25 for a bowl of ramen, it better look like the picture with all the char-siu, or it better look better than that.

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Chanko-nabe is often associated with sumo wrestlers because the high-protein diet is a well-balanced meal. There is no set recipe, but it can consist of meats (chicken, pork, beef), seafood (shrimp, octopus, fish), and vegetables (Chinese cabbage, carrots, onion) to provide a very healthy diet for dudes consuming 5k-8k calories a day. Try comparing that to the allotted 1,300 calories required by the average Tom, Dick, or Greg.

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They are nowhere as protective as Colonel Sanders with his supposed 11 herbs and spices blend, but maybe it’s because the Torizo Chanko blend only needs three: sesame seed, dried seaweed, and red chili flake.

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The broth is already quite tasty as is without this blend although you can try it with the additional seasoning if you want to add some spice because it does compliment the nabe.

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Decided to be frugal and go with the standard ramen noodles which are included. Maybe when I’m more baller status, I’ll throw down the additional +$3 for their risotto (are they calling it a risotto because you prepare it like a risotto by cooking the rice in the broth, or are they using rice cooked Italian style in a soffrito?).

Pros

  • One of the very few places in the area with nabe.
  • Some very tasty ingredients.
  • Attentive, friendly service.
  • Stark interior lets you concentrate on the food.

Cons

  • Some of the dishes may seem tight on value or pricey.
  • The restaurant is only open for dinner: 5:30 – 10:30 pm
  • Stark interior means you better love the food.

Torizo

Ramen & Chanko Dining
17900 Magnolia St., Ste A
Fountain Valley, CA
(Located next to Subway)
Hours 5:30-10:30, closed on Tuesdays
www.torizo.us
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