If you’re in the mood for Asian cuisine, there’s a small, unassuming shop on Pearl Street that you must try. At Sushi Tora, dining remains a remarkably traditional affair, especially on weekends. Every Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 2:00pm, you’ll find that the Japanese eatery’s wood-laden dining room is humming with excitement over the ongoing weekend lunch special. There’s a line out the door before they even open. What could possibly have Boulder’s lunch crowd buzzing this way? It’s ramen, that quintessential noodle dish that one only finds in authentic Japanese culture.
If you’ve never experienced “real” ramen, the first thing you need to know is that this is nothing like the pre-packaged dried noodles that are marketed under the same moniker. It’s something incomparably better. What we are talking about is on another level, especially when prepared by the chefs at Sushi Tora. This is why you already need to be in line when they open on the weekends; everything will be sold out by the time the second round of guests have been seated. (I have personally walked in at 12:30 to find that they’ve already sold out.)
While the food is truly incredible, if you have dietary restrictions that prevent you from eating pork, Sushi Tora’s ramen menu is not for you. Everything is pork-based, something that these chefs execute extremely well. You’re not going to find dry, overcooked meat in any of this restaurant’s dishes. We are talking about deliciously braised chashu that is full of flavor and falls apart when you bite into it.
You’ll find those same flavors in the broth. When I visit, I order the Tonkotsu, which has a rich, almost opaque broth that is bursting with that irresistible pork aroma. It’s a kid-friendly dish, as well, so either order enough for the little ones or be prepared to share. This is food that your whole family is going to ask for again and again.
Sushi Tora’s flawless execution of this traditional Japanese staple reminds me of the quality you’ll find in another favorite eatery of mine, Ippuddo in New York City. It’s that next-level food preparation, along with the welcoming, vibrant atmosphere that has kept me coming back for 15 years. I’ve been a patron of Sushi Tora since 1991, and even then, there was a three hour wait to sit at the bar. It has always been as special as it is now, and every time I visit, I feel pleasantly nostalgic.
Over the years, Sushi Tora has expanded, and there has even been a change of ownership somewhere along the way. They’ve always stayed true to their vision, however, bringing traditional Japanese cuisine to Boulder’s delightfully inclusive food culture. Although the way they stick to their roots is one of my favorite things about eating at Sushi Tora, I do wish they would add a vegan option. Otherwise, there’s nothing I would change about this major asset to our local dining scene.
I would definitely encourage you to give Sushi Tora a shot, but like I mentioned, make sure to arrive early. This is a great choice for winter dining, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have leftovers for dinner or the next day’s lunch.