Biceps & Beignets

Picky Palates: Tomoe Sushi

Happy Friday, mes chéries! I apologize for being off-schedule last week. As you may know, I do not blog full-time, and this week was especially hectic at work. I was at a conference for most of the week and didn’t get home until late at night after our networking events. By then, I was so exhausted I collapsed on my bed and snoozed till daylight where I had to get back up and repeat it all. As fun and incredible as it was, I would be lying if I didn’t say it wasn’t an energy-sucking few days.

After a long week, I love taking some time to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal with friends. Luckily one of my summer housemates (or the “Hippos” if you recall from previous posts) was craving sushi the way I do on a daily basis. As a result, we headed to a very small hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Greenwich Village called Tomoe Sushi. Greenwich Village is around Washington Square Park, also known as the heart of NYU. The neighborhood is filled with some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted, and Tomoe Sushi was no exception. It’s often jam-packed with a line out the door, so be sure to head there early for dinner or on a less popular day if you don’t wish to wait too long.

THE ATMOSPHERE

As you know by now, I end my Picky Palates restaurant reviews with overall ratings at the end of each post. Let’s go down the list and talk about each aspect of the restaurant, starting with aesthetics and atmosphere. From the photos above and below, you can see how the restaurant is focused on its cuisine more than decor. The restaurant itself is very cramped and small with dim yellow lighting from Japanese lanterns. Since our tables are all so close and slightly on top of each other, the setting is a little bit too intimate. I can basically could tell you all about the lives of the people at the three tables around me, just as I’m sure they can tell you my life problems after that meal as well. While they score low on the aesthetics and atmosphere, there was still a great authentic Japanese feel about the place that made me still enjoy it despite it’s low scoring on paper.

THE FOOD

But let’s get to the real reason why we’re here: the food. If you have scrolled down already, you will know that I have never had such good sashimi in my life. Maybe that’s an unfair statement because I went to Japan when I was 9 and cannot remember what the sushi or sashimi was like, but this meal did trump my Japan memories.

The fish is not only extremely fresh but properly cut. If raw fish 1) does not smell or taste fishy 2) is so perfectly chewy 3) is juicy yet delicately firm, you know that fish is fresh AF. But in order to confirm that they are not only importing the best fish but a legitimate and respected establishment, you must look at how the sashimi slices are cut. This is a crucial detail when it comes to sushi restaurants because many places just slice the sashimi or raw fish for sushi rolls to make it look like a large chunk on a plate (so you’re “getting your money’s worth”) or mash it up inside a roll. However, an authentic or high-end Japanese restaurant will hire itamae (sushi chefs) that has been properly trained to slice different types of sashimi properly.

Fun fact: sushi chefs have to go through extensive training to become a sushi chef! I love making sushi with my aunt and uncle whenever I’m over their house, but how my sashimi slices turn out look drastically different from that of Tomoe Sushi’s sushi chefs. When slicing sashimi, you must go against the grain and pull it backwards towards you to create a beautiful and smooth cut. Nobody likes a choppy textured slice of sashimi, am I right? So not only do Tomoe Sushi’s sushi chefs do this, they also make the slices the perfect thickness. Typically, you want to make the sashimi slice thick enough to feel like a hearty bite, but thin enough for it to not taste like you’re eating a chunk of raw fish. Tomoe Sushi is definitely not stingy with their slices and portions, that was for sure!

My friend Kathy and I split a Sushi Sashimi Combo and each ordered a serving of ika sashimi (squid) and uni sashimi (sea urchin). I also ordered a fatty tuna roll while she ordered a tamago (sweet egg) nigiri (nigiri is a piece of sashimi draped over a small oval of rice).

To say we were stuffed is an understatement.

The other angle of the combo platter (courtesy of Yelp)

Sea Urchin sashimi (uni)

Fatty Tuna Roll & Tamago (sweet egg) Nigiri

I failed to take a photo of the squid sashimi, but it’s the same as the white pleated pile as the bottom left corner of the Sushi Sashimi Combo platter.

THE SERVICE & BILL

Our waitress was an adorable middle-aged woman who was a sweet, friendly, and kind but not overbearing or pushy. She was quick to get our order and bring our food out but never rushed us. We kept on adding to our initial order of the combo platter, and she cheerily brought it out for us without complaint. Her soft tone and gentle smile made me feel comfortable despite the fact I was in very tight quarters.

After all that food, our bill ended up at a little over $107 including tip. This sounds like an insane amount to pay for a dinner, but when you factor in my actual split of it (~$54) and see the amount of quality sashimi I received for it, it’s practically a steal! Normally, I would have to pay this much for a bunch of sushi rolls full of rice, whereas here I paid for plates of sashimi and nigiri where the rice was only 1/3 the size of the fish, meaning I really got my money’s worth at Tomoe Sushi.

Seeing that I’m drooling over the photos of their other platters and numerous rolls on this Yelp photos page, I’m going to end this Picky Palates food review here. For those of you in New York who love sushi and sashimi as much as your girl here does, I highly recommend you pay a visit to Tomoe Sushi sometime soon! Just be sure to bring a large appetite and a wad of cash, as it is a cash only restaurant.

OVERALL RATING

AESTHETICS: 6/10

ATMOSPHERE: 6/10

MENU SELECTION: 10/10

AUTHENTICITY OF DISHES: 10/10

FOOD: 10/10

DRINKS: did not order any, but they have a great range of Japanese beers and some wine

SERVICE: 10/10

PRICE POINT: $$-$$$ depending on order and volume

Notes: I am going to be back for sure. This is my absolute new favorite sushi place, and I cannot even put into words just how much I love it. You simply have to taste the fresh sushi and sashimi yourself to understand.

 

Until next time, bisou bisou…

 

 

 

 

 

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