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Our Japanese go-to when we can’t go out to dine

By MILLIE AND KARLA REYES, The Philippine STAR Published Mar 18, 2021 5:00 am

MILLIE:  It's been a year since we were all forced to stay home due to the pandemic and Karla and I have not really gone out to dine. Although we managed cooking all our meals for a whole year, we decided to celebrate and order food for takeout from one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants that has since reopened. I'm talking about Tomo, a Japanese restaurant we used to frequent because we found it so convenient to just walk over or drop in whenever we were home and didn’t want to go through so much city traffic.

We normally order our all-time-favorite Japanese dishes like chilled salmon belly sashimi, spicy tuna and chutoro, a fatty tuna that melts in your mouth. Since we were worried it might be unsafe due to COVID-19, we ordered roasted salmon maki instead and unagi don, which consists of grilled eel fillets glazed with sweet soy sauce.  

  Spicy tuna mixed in wasabi and mayonnaise and topped with crunchy bits from fried tempura batter

I also requested for hiyashi chuka, a cold ramen noodle dish served with prawns, shreds of kani, chicken or ham bits, tamago, tomato slices, cucumber, red ginger and a sweet tare sauce or broth that I pour in.

  Hiyashi Chuka is a cold ramen noodle dish served with prawns, shreds of kani, chicken or ham bits, tamago, tomato slices, cucumber, red ginger and a sweet tare sauce.

KARLA:  When I got back from my brief stay in New York, I was surprised to learn that a Japanese restaurant had opened near our place. I started hearing reviews from other friends about it. 

So one day, mom and I decided to try it out. I remember being blown away by the spicy tuna salad. It has the right ratio of wasabi and the mixed-in crunchy bits from fried tempura batter. One of my other favorites there is the tori kuwayaki, deep-fried chicken tossed in a sweet glaze. Another must-try is the Tomo Special Maki with tempura, mango, asparagus, lettuce and salmon. 

  Something new on the menu: Salmon Ikura Sushi Cake, which has an introductory price of P1,080.

Something new on the menu is the Salmon Ikura Sushi Cake, which has an introductory price of P1,080. Although Tomo always comes out with new dishes, Mom and I can’t help but go back to our favorites. It’s such comfort food that every time we’re there, mom and I have a hard time choosing what to order. That’s how we know we enjoy the restaurant’s menu when we want to order almost everything on it.

MILLIE:  Tomo has stories to tell, it seems. When we could still dine in, it took my brother Ray to take notice and read what was written on the placemats. I never did because I always came in hungry.

  Roasted Salmon Maki is a torched salmon roll with cucumber.

It says that, traditionally, sushi is not to be eaten with chopsticks but rather with one's fingers. 

Another anecdote is that sushi originated some 2,000 years ago in the rice-growing region along the Mekong River.

Another is the origin of the bento box, which can be traced back as early as the fifth century when Japanese farmers would naturally bring their “baon” when they would leave home to work in the fields or run errands during the day. 

In later years, the wooden lacquered boxes were introduced and used to serve meals at tea parties.

KARLA:  On stressful and tiring work-from-home days, my mind can’t go beyond the immediate tasks at hand. Come dinnertime, I realize that I failed to prepare or defrost meats for our dinner. Good thing Tomo is literally around the corner and just a text or phone call away. 

Tomo to the rescue, in more ways than one. Driving by to pick up orders is so convenient. I’ve never had to get down from my car. Their guards are equipped with walkie talkies, so as you enter the gate, you just say your name and the server will come out with your order and bill. They also accept online bank transfers in case you don’t want to handle cash, and even can assist in booking your riders for pickup.

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Tomo Japanese Dining is located at 137 Araullo St., San Juan City. For orders and inquiries, call 8532-5729, 0966-625-0616 or Viber 0977-859-7622.

Banner and thumbnail caption: The Tomo Special Maki