FoodView – Torii Japanese


By Chris Murphy

Photos by MJ Mangano

COVID has changed so much in our community when it comes to dining. The entertainment and the restaurant experience were some of the things that were completely upended. These are amazing places of social interaction, that for so many months have been impossible. Here in Modesto, there are many places that look a lot different today than they did a year ago. We have a new downtown filled with parklets for outside dining and expanded patio spaces and you are able to order a ToGo cocktail. These are some of the things that need to stay with us in the future.

One of the places that has changed the most is Torii Japanese Restaurant in East Modesto. This has been a long time Modesto favorite for both food and a vibrant karaoke and cocktail experience. Here we are in 2021 and the place looks fresh and amazing. A complete new layout features Teppanyaki tables adjacent to the sushi bar and the main bar. Co-owner Danny Zeng is very proud of the new restaurant. “We really had to rebuild most everything and it gave us a chance for a new design, and create a place that will be fun and showcase our cooking tables”. It truly is a fresh design and we immediately felt welcome and comfortable. This is a very different place from the other locations he owns, Fumi Sushi and Kimoto along with Brandon Dodge and Kern Lew.

One of the best things is that one of Modesto’s great bartenders Sheri Midori Perry is there. I immediately ordered some of my favorite drinks that she has perfected over the years at Minnie’s and the Tiki, like the Mai Tai and the Planter’s Punch. The bar is loaded with great options and is conveniently placed between the sushi bar and the karaoke stage. Yes friends, karaoke is still here and rocks the place on Thursday Friday and Saturdays.

Once seated, we were greeted by our chef, Joseph Music. (yes, that’s his real name) As he displayed his cooking tools, flipping the spatula around and tapping out a beat on the griddle, we ordered our sushi appetizer and a round of Gyoza (Potstickers) both pan seared and deep fried. After we landed on a steak, chicken and shrimp selection, the show started and the eggs started cracking, the volcano of onions caught flame and the fried rice was served. Great drinks were part of our fun as the entrees were grilled to perfection. They even have an American Graffiti roll. I loved that. Great service, great tastes, great fun and we had a wonderful experience.

If you are not interested in the table preparation, there are traditional entrees available and the sushi counter is on point. The Ahi, Hamachi, Unagi and Sake were so very fresh and prepared perfectly. Danny’s eyes were on our experience and he was making sure all of the diners were being attended to. As we ate, the restaurant started to fill up and please note that you should make reservations as the weekends are operating at the distanced capacity. Don’t miss out.

Torii wins the award for the biggest change during COVID and it will be a place that we visit regularly, if not for the full dining experience, but for the cocktails and the karaoke. Let’s have some fun and support our local restaurants.

Torii Japanese

2401 E Orangeburg Ave Ste 35

Modesto 209-488-4921


Mon, Tues, Wed

11:30AM–2:30, 4–9PM

Thursday, Fri, Sat

11:30AM–2:30, 4PM–1AM


12–2:30PM, 4PM–1AM


12–2:30PM, 4–9PM

Posted in: news

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.