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 odd roll name here], the new (seared fois gras & unagi maki), and even the uncommon enormous 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 a new name, “Tomo21 Sushi“) located at 172 Thompson street. This restaurant is amazing, truly a treat. With lines around the block, lots of Japanese diners (my indication of a quality sushi joint) and very simple but incredible food with stunning portions. 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 Surprising Nigiri Sushi

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: Ask the itamae if you can buy him a beer. It’s always a nice gesture and the chef will appreciate it and hopefully remember you, it certainly works for me).

The Tomoe21 Sushi Experience

One of the reasons I bring this up is that while anyone would consider this a “modern” or possible “fusion” restaurant, it’s really not that different than many more expensive restaurants. They don’t deviate significantly from more traditional sushi restaurants other than the size of the portions. And while they do have some more modern selections, such as adding avocado, and some more complex rolls, where do we draw the line? Even the “traditional” sushi restaurants vary in many ways, and have even adopted ingredients that weren’t eaten in Japan 100 years ago.

So while Tomo21 Sushi may not fit and not fit the impeccable etiquette mold, it’s a great restaurant that serves amazing sushi. Those big meaty chunks of fish on their nigiri sushi, maki sushi, temaki sushi, and I could go on. It’s fresh food, safe, and whereas the atmosphere isn’t a super high end experience, the food certainly is.

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 take a book for he wait, but its worth it.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This