Looking For Giant Portions Of The Freshest Seafood?
There are basically two kinds of sushi eaters out there, that I have determined. The traditionalists who like the simple, artful Japanese presentation (instead of the westernized version) and those who like the fancy (insert crazy roll name), the new (seared fois gras & unagi maki), and even the uncommon ginormous slabs of fish on their plate. I don’t mean to pigeonhole everyone, and actually, I kind of sit in the middle and appreciate both sides.
The reason I mention this is that I wanted to talk about a really interesting restaurant that I frequent when I can (disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the restaurants I mention and get no ‘freebies’ or anything in return for talking about them. This website is nothing more than reporting and insights from a sushi expert about everything sushi related), recently renamed Tomo21 Sushi.
This is a place I typically only share with close friends due to the heavy demand, but… It’s in New York City and it was originally called Sushi Tomoe (it closed in 2021 and reopened under the name “Tomo21 Sushi”) located at 172 Thompson street. This place is cool, really cool. Lines around the block, lots of Japanese diners (my indication of a quality sushi joint) and very simple. However, simple can be deceiving. The first time I walked in (at 5:00 to try to beat the rush) I wasn’t that impressed. It’s nothing overly fancy and, in fact, it was not fancy enough that I briefly considered turning around. But I’m glad I didn’t.
Ordering Our Nigiri
I sat down at the sushi bar with my cousin and ordered. Served up were pieces of nigiri the size of my fist. Flesh overflowing. My jaw dropped and rapidly recovered into a smile. Wow, talk about non-traditional. But OMG what a meal. Tomo21, you’ve won me over. Great, whopping chunks of fish that would have pressed the rice to paper if we hadn’t devoured it so quickly. Everything was great, fresh, flavorful, and the itamae used their time well. I never felt ignored in the rush. But There was a rush. In fact, wait times can be up to an hour it’s so busy there.
I always do a la carte nigiri and sashimi, but they have combos, or meals (whatever you want to call them) too. eh… boring. I look for sushi-ya, not ‘restaurants that have sushi’ and order the pieces I specifically want. I’m pretty opinionated so rarely do “omakase” (where the itamae chooses what to serve you based on his knowledge of what is particularly good that day). But when you trust the chef, you are sometimes surprised (like the first time I was served ankimo, mmmmmmm, but that’s another story).
We stuffed our faces. Ate like kings, and then rolled out of there. Tomoe21 offered us all the clichés. My cousin and I are sushi freaks and when it feels right, we go all out. But the odd thing is that I didn’t feel fleeced when the bill came. Sure we spent a lot, but we ate so well, and it was so darn good that I wanted to tip those guys behind the bar. I think we even bought the itamae a beer (sushi tip #1: Buy the itamae a beer. It’s always a nice gesture, the chef will appreciate it and hopefully remember you).
I don’t know how many times I’ve been back, there are so many good places to go, but I will definitely say that my first trip there is my most memorable sushi-ya experience to date. I had no idea that places like that exist (and have been disappointed enough trying out new places that merely have ‘evidence’ of fish on the nigiri). So… if you’re in the city (New York City) and looking for a place to try… Find Tomo21. But go early and bring a book.