TOMO | June 12.2013

By Aysha Majid

As Kisaku has consistently held my favour, TOMO (recently launched by chef and owner Chitoshi Takahashi, Kisaku's original mastermind) has a lot to live up to. My reservations are that many things that charmed me about Kisaku may be the opposite in the monolithic and ostentatious Raffles hotel…

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In the restaurant, encased in glass, we're bestowed a perfect view of the artists at work. Chef Takahashi graciously greets us, while we immediately relinquish any dish favouritism in place of his wise recommendations.

Uber efficient sake sommelier, Aaron tempts us with his wares and following just a few descriptive hints, presents us with a discerningly tailored sake, the Dassai 50 (clean, soft and subtle from the prefecture of Yamaguchi in South West Japan). A cheerful starter of summer rolls is promptly served (soft, fresh and crunchy) and then the sushi arrives...bright and bold splashes of colour, perfectly formed and imminently fresh. A fan of toro, melt-in-the-mouth is almost too coarse a description for this rich and marbled tuna flesh… I'm advised this is chutoro (the second highest grade toro). (All the while the omnipresent Takahashi, glides magnanimously past each table surveying customers' gratified expressions.) The chicken yakitori is tender, subtle and delicate. Ethereally light tempura vegetables follow and like an unveiled masterpiece, the much loved and controversial Black Cod; dense chunks of succulent fish with a torched facade. Marinating fish in miso, alcohol and sugar is an age-old technique in Japan, but the pairing of Black Cod has almost become colloquial in our indulgent city. A dish now over-farmed (the Middle East a contributing culprit due to the ravenous appetite for its buttery flakes and beguiling mix of sweet and salt).

For pudding, the mochi ice cream (pounded sticky rice with ice cream filling), offer a contradiction of soft doughy exterior wrapped around homemade vanilla, macha (green tea) and goma (sesame) ice cream. Aaron presents a cherry on the top of our faultless experience in the form of frozen Umeshu, from Kobe (as in the beef). The brewery is Fukuju and the Toji (master brewer) we are told has a patent. TOMO is the only place this is available in the UAE, delicate, with hints of almond and the perfect digestif to an outstanding meal.

With outdoor, traditional Japanese seating, smoking and non-smoking private dining rooms, cocktail bar boasting a huge candlelit terrace with an awesome panorama of a twinkling sandy metropolis. TOMO is not Kisaku (Chef Takahashi has now parted ways with the much-loved Deira eatery) TOMO is more like an estranged and sophisticated older brother, formerly the same inside but with a debonair exterior.

Raffles Dubai, Wafi City
04 357 7888