Tomo Japanese Restaurant Cape Town Review

Authentic Japanese in the heart of the Cape City Centre

Tomo Japanese Restaurant Cape Town Review

If you’ve driven along Loop Street, chances are you have driven straight past some of the freshest Japanese cuisine you’ll find in Cape Town. Tomo Japanese Restaurant is a hidden gem offering  authentic Japanese in the heart of the Cape City Centre. A haven for simple, sophisticated and authentic Japanese food, that prides itself on the freshness of its produce.

As you walk in, you’re greeted by the prep area where you can see Chef David Yan doing what he does best. As much as I would have loved to have sat watching him all day, we made our way to our table in the surprisingly spacious eatery, which seems so much smaller from the outside.

While sipping on some piping hot jasmine tea, we meandered through the menu. The goal was to try dishes that we hadn’t seen in similar restaurants and we weren’t let down. Saba Robata anyone? More on that later…

Tako Ponzu // 75

For most people, their sashimi go-to is salmon, tuna or even yellowtail. But this is your sign to make Cape Octopus sashimi your next taste experience. You might be thinking “but won’t it be tough?” And the answer is a resounded “nope”. Because the collogen in the octopus isn’t heated, the finely slices octopus is delicate and tender. Served with a chili ponzu sauce and radish salad, you get the perfect blend of salty, yet creamy octopus, zingy radish, and that mildly spiced ponzu.

Agedashi Tofu // 75

I’m a massive tofu fan, so much so, that we make tofu from scratch every week at home. And this certainly didn’t disappoint. Agedashi Tofu, which literally means “tofu fried and soaked in Dashi”, is the epitome of Ugly Delicious. Like, really, really delicious. Perfect medium-soft silky tofu, dusted and deep-fried until golden and oh-so crispy. The dashi, made with bonito fish flakes, seaweed, soya sauce and other secret ingredients, is a rich, deeply umami broth that tastes like more. All of this is then topped with more seaweed and fresh spring onion, creating the perfect heart-and-stomach-warming dish.

Yellowtail Sashimi // 75

Well hello there, yellowtail sashimi done two ways. Lightly seared and raw yellowtail, served on a pool of gingery, garlicy, red oniony, spring oniony, sesame oily, red chili’ey and ponzu sauce. While this dish does come in a salmon or tuna variety if you so please, yellowtail has a similar firmness to tuna, but a lighter and slightly sweeter and more buttery flavour.

Dim Sum

We tried 3 different types of dumpling, Fried Hake (48 for 4), Fried Tuna (48 for 4), and Steamed Lamb (58 for 4). While they were all delicious, I’m just putting it out there that Hake Dumplings are my new favourite. Made with minced hake, black fungus and chives, it had an earthy, yet piquant flavour, with a taste of the sea.

Grilled Oysters / 29 each

I’m usually the person who tells people to back off with their cooked oysters. But I will also give anything a try! And that’s how I ended up eating – and loving – Tomo’s grilled fresh oysters topped with a garlic chilli sauce. They were so lightly grilled, that they weren’t cooked through, they just had a slight char on the edges and the sauce was warm. Talking about the sauce, I would buy this by the bucketload if I could. A garlicky heaven, with a small kick of heat, which still let the flavour of the oyster shine through.

Saba Robata / 158

Robatayaki, shortened to robata, is the Japanese equivalent of a braai. And Saba? Well that’s a mackerel. Put them together and you get salted and pickled mackerel, grilled lightly to get the skin crispy, served on a bed of sushi rice along with ginger, wasabi, soya sauce, radish, and a side portion of three rock shrimp tempura. Why’s it served with shrimp tempura? I have no idea, but I’m so glad it is because they are 10/10 delicious-crispy-nuggets-of-joy, I wish I’d gotten more. The Saba itself was delicate in texture, but oomphy in flavour, with that briny undertone from the pickling process coming through. This isn’t the dish I’d choose if I had to eat just one thing off the menu, but it’s definitely a great addition if you’re getting a bunch of items to share, so you can experience something new from the heart of Japan.

20 piece Salmon and Tuna Platter / 295

Not only was this a gorgeous mix of different sushi types, it was also a mix of different salmon and tuna cuts, which is not something you get on every platter. It meant that every bite was a little adventure into the world of sushi, fresh off the mat.

Tomo is a true gem. There were so many other things on the menu that I hadn’t seen elsewhere, and really wanted to try, that I’ll need to go back again. The food is sublime, the service is laid back but professional, the atmosphere is calm, and the focus is very clearly on giving you authentic Japanese experiences using only the freshest of ingredients. All I have to say, is “thank you!”

 86 Loop Street, Cape Town, South Africa
 078 735 6537


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