It’s not often we experience something truly great for the first time and subsequently realize that it’d be hard to imagine life without it. Most notably, we’ve felt this way about Aesop soap, the Foo Fighters’ Bee Gees cover album, and Dot’s Pretzels. Tomo in White Center rightfully belongs in this category too.
This tasting menu restaurant with Japanese influences has an ability to coax intense flavor out of seemingly simple ingredients. We’re talking about plates like barley porridge with eggplant and dill pollen that tastes like a meatless Reuben soup, candy-like charred squash in a puddle of stracciatella with polka dots of dandelion and chilhuacle oils, and smoky pork collar with kohlrabi ribbons and tender sea lettuce (a.k.a. our new favorite algae). You can choose between an omnivore tasting and a vegetarian tasting, which are both $78 a person (recently increased from $68) and involve mostly identical dishes with a couple of different ones peppered throughout. At times, they simply swap animal protein out for equally-as-meaty mushrooms.
To match these exciting bites is an equally-as-thrilling space. The restaurant features a dark, narrow hallway abuzz with conversation, stripes of light that add stark contrast to the brunette walls, and speakers that blast whale noises in the wood-paneled restroom. Turns out that washing your hands to the soundtrack of ambient humpback vocalizations is a calming reprieve from the dining room chatter.
Reservations are not easy to come by. Typically on the first of the month at 10am, bookings open up online for the next month, and they go fast. You could also try your luck for one of the six bar seats that are first come, first served. But once you’re in, even though dinner can last upwards of three hours, Tomo serves the kind of meal you want to replay in slow-motion in order to savor each bite. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this place is meant for your next big night out. One that starts with a crisp salted kiwi tartlet and should end with a $20 sorrel kakigori add-on topped with hazelnut butter and funky whipped cheese.