Izakaya Tomo

I get an e-mail at work. Its content is only this hyperlink, and nothing else:

http://www.izakayatomo.net/index.php?FrontPage

Of course I like the mystery of receiving an e-mail like this, even though I know the person who sent me the link, and know that they have a taste for good food, a clean restaurant and don’t tolerate bad service.

Two clicks into Izakaya Tomo’s website and I knew I had to go. I found my way to Store Info, then, What Kind of Person Would Enjoy Going to an Izakaya? And in the top spot?

1. Anyone who just loves drinking!!

Helllllooooooo Izakaya!!

Of course they quickly claim that you don’t have to have to drink to enjoy yourself.

One of the first questions asked by our waitress was how far away did we live, and how did we get there. Although subtle, and perhaps it was just friendly chit-chat, I thought it might have been done to get an idea if they needed to keep an eye on things. I don’t think of this as a bad thing at all.

We didn’t have reservations, and showed up on Friday night about 6 pm. The tables were all reserved, but they did give us seats at the bar, which turned out to be perfect to watch the fun. We were given a box that sat on the floor to keep our coats. I thought that was pretty nifty.

Typical to some smaller Japanese restaurants, there is lots of shouting going on. From greeting people at the door by hollering out a friendly “So sorry we didn’t see you the second you walked in the door” (very loosely translated – and said the millisecond your foot crosses the threshold) to “Order up for Table 5!”.

There is a lot of friendly camaraderie among the staff. Michael and I were instantly put at ease and felt welcome. We chatted a few times with Tomoya who checked in with us regularly to make sure we were happy and enjoyed our meal.

IMG_1425We started with a sake sampling. In total, we had six one ounce servings of a variety of sakes, in all price ranges. It was a great way to try sake, especially for us, since our experience has been limited to the warm, house-brand sake. Although I got enjoyment from the cold sake, and would definitely have it again, we fell back on our old tried and true, warm, house-brand sake. At Izakaya Tomo, though, I was most impressed with how the sake is served. Not in the usual tall white bottle we’ve become accustomed to everywhere else, but in a bottle worthy of a carnation stem, and cups a bit bigger than a thimble. For the first time ever, I didn’t spill any sake on the table.

(Picture Unavailable of Aburi Saba. Consumed before the camera came out of the purse).

First up was the Aburi Saba – open flame torched saba (mackerel).  A dainty serving, but delicious, especially with real ginger grated on the plate – not the pickled stuff – but that came later, thank goodness, because I do enjoy the pickled ginger quite a bit.

IMG_1427Second was the delivery of Beef Tataki – thin sliced seared beef with butter ponzu sauce. I had to give Michael a kick under the table as he said he was wanting to slurp up the remaining ponzu sauce, and lord knows if he thought no one was looking, he would have. Again, as we were up front with the sushi chefs right in front of us, he held himself back.

IMG_1426Also served at this point was the Crispy Spicy Tuna Roll. And my goodness, I took to that. It’s a largish roll, the tuna in the centre chopped and spiced up, rolled in typical sushi rice, wrapped in the seaweed wrap, and then delicately fried in a light tempura, and generously drizzled with a spicy mayo sauce.  Yum. This particular dish will haunt me until I return.

IMG_1428Here’s the ubiquitous salmon maki. It was good, but seemed quite plain and dull compared to the other dishes.

We were still a bit peckish so placed an order for tuna sashimi. It was delicious too, and the serving size not so bad (although we are used to the more generous servings at Furusato – which often makes me wonder if there is enough tuna in the sea to support their generosity).

I was impressed with their website. The commitment statement, the questions and answers, and some helpful information about the amazing health benefits of burdock root, which, up until now I thought only appeared in a witch’s cauldron when simmered up some eye of newt. The menu, the enthusiasm, the chatter… it all gives you an idea what the restaurant is like – it emotes the personality of Tomoya, and he and his restaurant are exactly as he describes – friendly – fun – fresh ideas and fresh food.

Izakaya Tomo is located on 99th Street, just north of 34th Avenue, on the East side of the road. There is plenty of parking lot parking. There is a hot yoga shop nearby and a hair salon with a yappy out of control dog barking in the window. Izakaya Tomo restaurant is pleasant to look at, is peaceful and comfortable in its seating despite being wooden benches (but I come with natural padding), has a nice ambiance, and the music is cool.

Go. Seriously. I encourage you to go before this place becomes impossible to get into.

Izakaya Tomo
3739 99 St
Edmonton AB
780-440-9152

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