Having heard good things about Tomoe from various sources, I dragged my friend E there tonight to check it out. Located on Marylebone Lane, the restaurant is nothing much to look at from the outside and equally shabby inside, but I take that as a sign that the eatery’s known for good food rather than good looks.
It’s a Monday, so we decided to steer clear of the sashimi and sushi, instead opting for mostly hot dishes – which we preferred anyway as it was a pretty chilly out. E came in handy when ordering (being half Japanese), scoring us a couple of specials not on the standard menu, although I have to say after hearing so much about the specials on offer here the list seems rather short.
Our first dish was a simple warm sweet omelette served with grated radish, ginger and soy. It tasted fine but as far as specials go, it wasn’t all that special. I did like the fried shrimp that came next though – crunchy, with an intense shellfish flavour, they reminded me of a similar dish I tasted at an izakaya on my last visit to Tokyo.
The Braised Pork with slow cooked egg that followed was lovely – the runny yolk and whites complementing the soft pork, and taking on all the flavours of the gravy. It would have been even better on some fluffy steamed rice.
Our other choice from the daily specials was the Octopus Carpaccio, a strange western-inspired dish of cold cooked octopus slices topped with tomato, lemon and a slightly spiced tomato sauce. A bit disappointing.
As much as we expected the Octopus Carpaccio to be raw, we expected the Grilled Razor Clams to be cooked. Instead, it was basically slightly warmed razor clam sashimi with cherry tomatoes, fried garlic and a ponzu dressing. Nevertheless, it was a nice and well balanced dish – the sharp ponzu bringing out the sweetness of the fleshy clams, and the fried garlic adding a lovely nutty note.
The sautéed Iberico Pork, thinly sliced and served with mayonnaise and salad was also lovely. As was the soba with seaweed – the soba were clearly made in-house as the noodles varied in width and were soft and pliable, yet still had a nice bite to them.
The agedashi tofu (labeled on the menu as fried beancurd with sweet sauce) was silky smooth and came in a well seasoned dashi sauce. There were also extras of tempura shitake and avocado tucked in with the beancurd which was a pleasant surprise (although E did find tempura avocado a bit odd).
We were enjoying the food and impressed that all the clientele were Japanese (always a good sign) and I was already making a mental note to make a return trip with B to sample their sushi when I spotted a small mouse on the floor. A waiter had also noticed and was nonchalantly following it around with a brush and dustpan. After a distressing few minutes he finally managed to catch it but by then our appetites had all but disappeared.
We struggled to finish the Spicy Chicken Wings (again deceptively named, being sweet and not at all spicy) which was unfortunate as they were very tasty and on any other occasion would have been quickly polished off.
The whole rodent debacle is such a shame as I found the food on the whole to be delicious and reasonably priced, and would have loved to try more of what the restaurant had to offer. Sadly however, I will not be stepping through its doors again.
62 Marylebone Lane
London, W1U 2PB
t. 020 7486 2004