We like bandwagons. They’re fun to jump on. And now the pokē bandwagon is officially rolling through London. Hailing from Hawaii, the raw-fish salad bowls are like pimped-up versions of Japanese chirashi. However, Tombo makes no reference to the dish’s Hawaiian roots, instead opting for a minimal sushi bar vibe with familiar Japanese sides like hijiki (seaweed) salad and miso soup.
As a poké virgin, I found the build-your-own menu daunting; the signature bowls were more accessible, with variations on marinated salmon or tuna over black and white rice or courgetti. Sizeable chunks of glistening fish were super-fresh, and ‘salmon caviar’ and edamame make enjoyable additions. Although it ruined the prettiness, my bowl needed a proper chopstick shake-up to distribute the heavy wasabi soy sauce nestling under layers of avocado and nori. Ticking another bandwagon box is the accompanying matcha menu: green stuff galore from teas and lattes to desserts and juices. Steer clear of the strong juices and save room for soft-serve ice cream or matcha rocky road.
Although with regular-size poké costing from around £7, these are no bargain bowls. And the 20 percent VAT charge (hidden in small print) for eating in left almost as sour an aftertaste as the matcha juice we’d had. When you compare these prices to those of Soho’s many Japanese lunch joints, Tombo doesn’t quite match(a) up.