Qatar Eating had the pleasure of attending a pre-opening media dinner at Doha’s newest dining establishment Toro Toro, located in the grounds of Marsa Malaz Kempinski. Described as a pan-Latin American restaurant, Toro Toro provides diners with a sophisticated version of the popular Churrasco grill. Chef-Owner Richard Sandoval once again brings his unique culinary vision to Doha, having previously launched his Mexican restaurant Pampano a few years ago.
For Toro Toro Chef Sandoval described how he had wanted to open up the traditionally masculine steakhouse and make it more female-friendly. He did so by conceptualising the small plates menu, which has a contemporary slant on the popular flavours of countries such as Brazil, Peru and Mexico. The small plates menu is packed full of flavourful hot and cold dishes, and is perfect for sharing with fellow diners.
‘Toro’ means bull in Spanish and the motif is certainly used to full effect in the décor of the restaurant, with rich textures and flame-inspired interiors (even the napkins are stylised as bull horns). The use of orange as an accent helps to bring some colour to the masculine deep browns and charcoal. Upstairs is a bar area and lounge with a resident DJ, whilst downstairs holds the main dining room with seating for up to 156 diners. Outdoor terraces on the first floor give fantastic views of the colourful Qanat Quartier and the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Although the restaurant feels very masculine there is something rather elegant and urbane about it. It is a very dark design but lighting has been used intelligently providing a comfortable dining experience, and here are lots of seating options. If you have a chance to look around the restaurant before you dine, then watch out for the following: the churrasco grill viewing kitchen; the amazing ceiling feature above the bar; the crazy interior of the elevator; the ceviche bar downstairs; and the many references to bulls or fire in the overall award-worthy interior design scheme.
The dishes we sampled at the event comprised of a variety of Toro Toro specialities and made excellent use of South American flavours and spices. The Smoke Guacamole requires the avocado to be cooked on direct heat and the smokiness really came out, but the dip needed more lemon. Cheesy bread, Pão De Quejjo, was served alongside tomato and chimichurri sauces. These moreishly light and savoury bundles of goodness rocked!
The Ceviche Huachinango showcased the traditional Peruvian marinade ‘Leche De Tigre’ (tiger’s milk). This is the citrus marinade which helps to cure the sea bass used in the dish. There was also some avocado, sweet potato and chhalaquita for added texture. The Tuna Tataki was perfectly seasoned with crispy sweet potato. It also used Tiger’s Milk but with the extra addition of rocoto sauce which added extra spice.
The stand-out cold plate was the Salmon Tiradito – thinly sliced salmon ‘cooked’ by the tiger’s milk, and seasoned with jalapeno chilli and soy sauce. It was beautifully presented and tasted sensational – definitely one to recommend!
Next we were served the hot small dishes starting with Salmon served on a bed of sweetcorn puree. It was a slightly sweet dish but it had lovely earthy notes due to the puree. We were also served the Choclo Empanada which again was very earthy due to the mushroom ragout filling, and the very strong-tasting olive sauce.
For the Beef Fillet Anticucho, according to our very informative server Samuel, the beef is marinated for 48 hours in a marinade containing the aji panca chili pepper, which is a slightly smoky and fruity pepper from Peru. The accompanying corn salad helped add crisp fresh flavours to the rich meat.
The Crispy Prawns had a panko (Japanese bread crumbs) preparation and tasted phenomenal with the sweet Asian sauce and mango garnish. This dish competes with the Grilled Octopus as the standout hot plate. The Grilled Octopus was prepared with Peruvian adobo marinade, which Samuel says is composed of over a hundred different spices. It is certainly the secret behind the rich flavour of this beautifully executed dish, with an accompanying potato salad. A big thank you to Samuel, Toro Toro’s walking encyclopaedia of South American cuisine!
We also enjoyed many different mocktails including mojito, Horchata. Thanks to the knowledgeable bar staff, including Milan and Sathi, who provided amazing drinks to ambiguous requests for something ‘fruity’ or ‘zesty’.
After the small plates you can order Churrasco Grill from the menu, where passadores come around with grilled meats for you to choose. You are given a ‘green/red card’ to show, where green means ‘keep going’ and red means ‘no more’. Essentially it’s a free flow of table-side carved meats.
The passadores came round the tables with Brazilian Wagyu Picanha, Australian Lamb Chop and Achiote Marinated Chicken. There was accompanying sides of Roasted Potatoes which had a lovely parmesan and chimichurri dressing, and a flavourful potato puree prepared with modern gastronomic techniques.
The Brazilian Wagyu Picanha is the star of the show, though the chicken and lamb do put up a good fight. The chicken had a deep spicy marinade and had been barbecued to perfection. The lamb chops were brought around by Executive Chef Bojan Petrovic, who will be heading the kitchen and operations at Toro Toro. The Lamb Chops were juicy and full of meat flavour, but the beef was outstanding with the chimmichurri sauce. Churrasco is a traditional South American concept, but meat-lovers everywhere will relish this barbecue sensation.
For the final course we were served a selection of South American desserts. A word of warning – they are very calorific, particularly the dishes using condensed milk as a base. After a fantastic meal and meat indulgence most diners would have no room for dessert, but the Tres Leches is an airy cake concoction which is lovely and light to eat, with a zesty hit due to the mango and passionfruit sauces. The Suspiro Limeno has a lovely caramelised meringue-style topping, and hidden below are hundreds of calories in the form of condensed and evaporated milk – and yet it is silky smooth sugary goodness.
The Chocolate Cake managed to make a stunning impression against a fantastic meal full of flavour, spice and premium cuts of meat. It deserves a place in the ‘Hall of Fame’ for desserts; for all chocolate dessert-lovers this is the one to beat! Smooth chocolate, with crispy roasted chocolate crumbs and a ginger ice cream – the bar has been raised people, it has been raised!