Japanese-Inspired Cuisine at TOMO Seattle

During our labor day PNW adventure, we had the incredible opportunity to dine at one of Seattle's most popular restaurants - TOMO Seattle. This hidden gem, owned by Chef Brady Ishiwata Williams, seamlessly blends Japanese...

During our labor day PNW adventure, we had the incredible opportunity to dine at one of Seattle's most popular restaurants - TOMO Seattle. This hidden gem, owned by Chef Brady Ishiwata Williams, seamlessly blends Japanese cuisine with local ingredients and Hispanic influences.

Booking TOMO Seattle

Securing a reservation at TOMO Seattle is no easy feat. It's currently one of the most sought-after dining spots in Seattle. Reservations open on the first of each month at 10 am PST, and they fill up quickly. I was lucky enough to secure a table for our second-to-last night in the city. However, we almost missed out due to a delay at our hotel, the Westin Seattle.

TOMO Seattle operates on the Tock booking platform, and a pre-payment for the dinner is required. While reservations are non-refundable, they are transferrable. The restaurant is also accommodating towards dietary restrictions, which is a plus.

TOMO Seattle Location

TOMO Seattle is located in the White Center area of Seattle, housed in an unassuming space next to a pizza shop. There is free parking available in reverse-angled parking stalls in front of the restaurant. However, due to the popularity of the surrounding shops and restaurants, finding parking can be challenging. I recommend arriving early or opting for a ride-share service to ensure a stress-free experience.

TOMO Seattle Image: TOMO Seattle

Atmosphere & Service

TOMO Seattle boasts a sleek and modern ambiance that effortlessly blends casual and elegant elements. Notably, there is no dress code, so guests can choose to dress up or keep it casual. The service at TOMO Seattle is exemplary. The staff members we interacted with were professional, friendly, and personable. Our waiter even took the time to engage in friendly conversation between courses, maintaining a high level of service for everyone. To top it off, Chef Brady himself served us the dessert course.

While TOMO Seattle provides a fantastic setting for a date night, it's worth noting that it can get a bit lively and loud. However, the noise level did not affect our conversations or interactions with the staff.

TOMO Seattle Image: TOMO Seattle

TOMO Seattle Food

The menu at TOMO Seattle changes seasonally and features dishes named after their primary ingredients. Our culinary journey began with a delightful amuse bouche - a Squash Cracker paired with a squash blossom. The crispy and savory cracker provided the perfect appetizing bite to kickstart our meal.

Our first official course was the Fresh Cheese, Tomato, and Nardello Pepper dish. We savored the creamy fresh cheese and fresh cherry tomatoes immersed in a savory, smoky, and citrusy sauce. The balance of flavors was absolutely delightful.

Next up was the Beef Tartare Tostada with Ikura and Mustard Greens. While the presentation resembled Mexican cuisine, the flavors were distinctly Asian. The tender and almost creamy beef showcased a meaty, sweet-savory, and citrusy profile with a hint of miso on the finish. The crispy tostada, infused with a beautiful corn flavor, complemented the beef perfectly, and the dressed mustard greens tied everything together.

We then indulged in the Summer Lettuces, Karasumi, and Mint salad. Beyond the individual ingredients, this dish surprised us with lightly grilled lettuce, adding a subtle smoky and charred note. The light and bright citrus dressing combined with Karasumi (Japanese bottarga) and breadcrumbs to create a balanced umami flavor. The addition of mint and dill provided a cool and herbaceous touch, making this salad a standout even for non-salad enthusiasts like myself.

Our final savory course consisted of Lamb, Shishito, Onion, and Cherry Chamoy. The perfectly cooked lamb, glazed in a deep cherry chamoy, sat atop charred shishito peppers in an intensely savory onion broth. The dish showcased the lamb's richness without any gaminess. The sweet-tangy-savory chamoy, along with the sweet-vegetal flavors of the shishito, elevated the experience. And let's not forget the broth - it was so divine that I could have easily consumed it straight from the bowl.

TOMO Seattle Image: TOMO Seattle

To conclude our meal, we savored a dessert named Stonefruit, Beeswax, Fig Leaf, and Almond. Unsure of what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the combination of sweet-tart peaches, light and mildly sweet creamy beeswax, and the slight crunch of almonds. It truly was a delightful way to end the dining experience, although our culinary adventure didn't stop there.

Since the Kakigori is TOMO Seattle's signature item, we couldn't resist trying it. Although priced at $20, the portion size was generous enough to share. That evening, the Kakigori flavor was Sarsaparilla, Plum, and Li Hing Mui. While the inclusion of Li Hing Mui wasn't particularly unique for us from Hawaii, the Kakigori turned out to be both interesting and delicious.

Unlike traditional shave ice in Hawaii, TOMO Seattle's Kakigori incorporates the sarsaparilla flavor directly into the ice. The ice itself has a perfect fluffy texture. Thin slices of tart plum and miniature marshmallows are scattered throughout and coated in an ume-Li Hing Mui sauce with hints of mint. The combination of root beer, ume, Li Hing Mui, plum, and marshmallows might sound unconventional, but it works harmoniously. I cannot explain the science behind it, but the herbal notes of sarsaparilla beautifully complement the tartness of ume and Li Hing Mui, the sweet-tart plum, and the refreshing mint.

TOMO Seattle Image: TOMO Seattle

Final Thoughts

TOMO Seattle is an exceptional restaurant led by a team of talented individuals. Every bite we had was meticulously crafted and truly delicious. It's no wonder the place is always packed. As someone from Hawaii, I must say that while the flavor combinations at TOMO Seattle are outstanding, they aren't as outlandish as the local media portrays them to be. Nonetheless, the flavors are undeniably great, and I did have the opportunity to try some unique dishes that I haven't experienced elsewhere.

For all my readers in Hawaii, keep this in mind if you plan on dining at TOMO Seattle. Regardless, I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone seeking a remarkable dining experience, and I would undoubtedly return myself.

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