I’m always excited to be invited to write the restaurant review for Living In Magazines because it forces me to explore different cuisines and localities, says Sara Tricker
You can’t help but be aware of the growing popularity of Japanese food in sushi and bento bars and restaurants – even within our local supermarket! Indeed, Tomoe is flanked, in its slightly scruffy parade on the Upper Richmond Road, by a modern Japanese restaurant and a Japanese/Asian take-out bar. Tomoe is a traditional style restaurant offering a sashimi bar alongside grilled and fried dishes. It has been in its present location since 2013 (relocating from central London), the decor is simple and atmosphere calming and quiet. On the Friday evening that I visited with my family, it was busy, luckily we had booked in advance. There is seating for around 20 diners upstairs, and a similar number downstairs. In addition – and pick of the bunch for me – are 10 bar stools surrounding the sashimi bar, perfect for watching the chefs at work.
A little research into Japanese cuisine explains that the food experience is created around ‘the power of five’. That it should stimulate the five senses: taste, smell, sight, touch and hearing. Tomoe doesn’t disappoint. The menu is extensive, if a little confusing, however photographs (which I generally deplore) did come in handy! We ordered dishes to share.
The food arrived in roughly two groups. The first was small tasters of edamame beans (£3.50) which were fresh, hot and salty, avocado maki sushi rolls (£4.00), a-kara tebasaki (sweet spiced chicken wings, £5.50), and our ‘star dish of the day’ – agedashi tofu (fried tofu and vegetables with tempura sauce, £4.90), which was silky and flavoursome.
We were then delighted by two bento boxes, hot noodles and miso soup. The Chicken Teriyaki and Sashimi Bento included chicken teriyaki, egg omelette, hijiki, salmon and tuna sashimi, salad, pickles, rice and Miso soup; while the Vegetarian Tempura and Sushi Roll Bento had a mix of vegetable tempura, agedashi tofu, hijiki, spinach, salad, pickles, vegetable roll, and miso soup (£14.90 each).
Our dining experience certainly fulfilled the power of five – the food was visually stunning, delivering a surprising variety of textures and hot and cold morsels. Tastes of sweet, sour, spicy, salty and umami were all represented in the freshly made Bento boxes. The cold draft Ashai beer we accompanied our meal with was perfect.
I found the fifth sense – sound – in the hushed and quiet dining room. Despite the restaurant being full with tables of couples, small groups and families the atmosphere was calm and business like. The chefs and waiting staff (all Japanese) went about their tasks with a serious intent. Whilst the service was ‘without’ a smile, it was courteous and efficient.
292 Upper Richmond Rd SW15 6TH
Tel: 020 3730 7884