Tomo is another really close restaurant to me that I have never been to—and recently has been recommended by a couple of people, so we thought we would check it out. The first thing I noticed was how well it was doing on a random Tuesday night—nice to see a small business like this with such good business. The other thing I noticed right away was the interior is pretty darn nice. I guess for a strip mall outside of Wal Mart, I didn’t have high hopes. But they have done a good job on the interior. There are a few teppanyaki tables (a la Benihana) and then a larger restaurant area with a full bar. We figured if we liked what we had, we may bring the kids back for the teppanyaki as Benihana is one of their favorite places.
The menu is quite large—the regular sushi type items as well as lots of other Japanese options (teriyaki, udon, etc) and even a few Thai dishes. Of course huge menus always worry me, but you never know. We started with an order of shrimp tempura ($6.95) for an appetizer (they have it as a dinner and an appetizer, we got the appetizer portion). It was pretty good actually. I always find it interesting to see how much tempura can vary from place to place, but their batter was very light and extremely crunchy. My favorite part was that along with the shrimp (there were 2), they served several veggies, as is usually the case, and they served broccoli as one as well as eggplant, which are two of my favorite things to be done in this style. I’m not sure why, but in San Francisco, they almost always offered both, and I got used to it—I get tired of the traditional squash and carrots you seem to see so many places here. The zucchini was also really good.
We almost didn’t order the tempura, because it didn’t seem that exciting, but I am glad we did because it was probably our favorite thing of the evening. We had some miso soup ($1.95) which was your standard miso soup, totally fine, nothing out of the ordinary. Then we had the beef tataki ($9.95). Normally I wouldn’t order beef in a Japanese restaurant (well a sushi place anyway), but because they did all the teppanyaki stuff, I knew they would turn over beef (and all of those tables were full while we were there). It was lightly seared on the edges, and sliced thin, served nearly raw (except for the sear on the edges)and cold. This dish was fine, but nothing about it made us really excited. The beef was pretty tender, but there were some pieces that were a little too fatty. The “chef’s special sauce” was a little overdone—the beef was really almost floating in it. It was soy based, with some sweetness to it as well. A little less of it would have been better. There were lots of chopped chives on top as well, which I liked for some texture. It is a very generous portion though.
Finally, we went with the sweetheart roll ($12.95) which was spicy tuna crunch on the inside (tuna mixed with little pieces of tempura bits) and then topped with fresh tuna, which was served in a cute way (it’s upside down because they put the heart facing hubby, go figure). The heart was actually made up of several sauces, which were good with the rolls, and kind of necessary, because the roll on its own wasn’t that exciting. But while I thought the whole thing was a creative presentation, I think I would have preferred the whole thing served as a regular roll with some sauce dressing it. The “spicy” tuna in the middle didn’t really have a lot of flavor and the first piece I ate had a large piece of tempura that was quite hard and made me think for a second I bit into something else. This roll would be a skip for me.
The service was good all night—not super friendly, but extremely efficient and they never let your water glass get more than 1/3 empty before they were refilling it. I also really really like the fruit flavored Japanese bubble gum they give you with your check. But then again I have a weakness for it. Honestly, it is possible I will go back just to get the gum.
Interestingly, the clientele (other than the teppanyaki grills which were dominated by families) on the night we were there was mainly made up of women—probably varying from their 20s to 40s. Not sure why this is, but I was facing the door and just kept watching group after group of women coming in.
We have quite a few good sushi places around us, and several that are better as far as my food experience has gone, but I did like the interior, and I would possibly be willing to go back to try some other things. Recommendations?
7411 North Keystone, Suite A