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Brasserie Tomo isn't a big place, nor is it especially well-known, but if you're looking for something a little upmarket and affordable for your lunchtime business meeting – or even a romantic date – it's well worth scouting out.
Without a reservation, we were easily seated on a Friday lunchtime, where we ordered a five-course set menu that began to arrive almost as soon as we were comfortable. After starting with a martini glass full of chilled vichyssoise, it was the second course that really kicked things off. A selection of dainty entrees included a subtly sweetened foie gras pate, a smooth tomato mousse, the creamiest shrimp tartare, and a curl of wagyu beef skewered on a pair of wooden sticks. If the consommé had been fairly regular, this smorgasbord suggested there was a classy hand at work in the kitchen.
Our suspicions were confirmed with the next course – sazae (turban shell crab) in garlic butter served on a thick slice of oven-baked baguette. The imagination and craftsmanship were worthy of a far more expensive meal. Chunks of the sazae mollusc had been fried up in a bright green garlic sauce and poured back into the shell, from which you ate them. Once the crab itself was gone, the waiter encouraged us to pour the remaining broth from the shell onto the bread, which dripped as heavily with guilt as it did with calories, but was sensational nonetheless.
Just when we thought the temperature couldn't be upped any further, the chef sent out a plate of beef in a red wine bouillon that absolutely hit the spot. Beef so tender it barely stayed on the fork, paired with chunky, robust root vegetables; quite obviously the pinnacle of a meal that had, thus far, been increasingly wonderful.
Instead of trying to take us higher, however, for his next trick the chef threw us the oddest curveball we've ever been lobbed in a Japanese restaurant: a plate of curry and rice. In truth, we'd heard that Chef Tomo was a dabhand with this low-rent Japanese staple, but we hadn't expected it in the middle of what could only be called a haute cuisine menu. It was certainly above the usual standard, the rice mixed up with freshly cooked omelette and the curry making use of the same, soft beef from the last course, though we'd probably choose to do without it should we visit Brasserie Tomo again. While it was unquestionably a fine bowl of curry, it didn't quite sit with the meal we'd initially ordered.
The final course was a fairly simple crème brûlée, topped with a cherry and fresh mint leaf, which cleansed the palette so well it was almost as if the curry had been a peculiar daydream. Without the spicy sidestep, this would've given an almost circular effect to the meal, bringing us right back around to the creamy consommé from the first course. Our advice, should you choose to visit: go with the curry or go with the set menu, but don't mix and match. Follow that little pointer, and you'll be in for some really exceptional cooking.
2F, 6-5 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku
|Transport:||Azabu-Juban Station (Namboku, Oedo lines)|
|Opening hours:||11.45am-3pm (last orders 2pm), 6pm-10pm (9.30pm) / closed for lunch Mon, for dinner Sun|