30 Jul Tombo
South Kensington is one of London’s cultural centres and, as an old RCM Junior Department student, close to my heart. You’d be a very unimaginative person indeed not to be moved by the architecture, history and beauty around you! With the heavy footfall of tourists and locals alike come all the restaurants, cafes and delis to nourish them. It can be hard to find somewhere a little quieter in such a busy location. Tombo is nestled neatly between Le Pain Quotidien and a very lucky person’s house, just round the corner from South Ken tube station. They have bar seats for those wanting to be swift as well as comfier tables further inside. Take away options are available which include their selection of exciting Japanese inspired desserts. Slices of hojicha (green tea) and ginger swiss roll and vegan matcha cheesecake look particularly tempting.
As it was scorchingly hot, I decided to try the Kyoto Kaisen poké bowl whereas Mr Munch went for the complete extreme, a steaming bowl of spicy noodles! Recently poké restaurants have been appearing in London and on menus more frequently. It’s a Hawaiian dish though strongly influenced by Japanese cuisine, originating from when fishermen seasoned the cut-offs from their catch to serve as a snack. It can be a salad in its own right made up of cubes of sashimi fish and various greens, or a main dish served on top of rice. My bowl included salmon (my favourite!) and tuna chunks with edamame, spring onions slices, avocado, Japanese salad leaves and delightfully sharp pickled cucumber. Crunch was added by fried crispy onions. They slightly masked the flavour of the fish but not in a way that would stop me finishing the lot! The Hawaiians know what they’re doing with this dish, it’s ideal hot weather food. The citrus dressing made it even more refreshing. If you’re not a fan of white rice you can opt for black rice or courgette noodles.
The spicy Tantanmen is similar to ramen – it’s a soup based noodle dish and uses similar thin egg noodles. Tombo’s variation combines minced pork and beef, reminding me of my mum’s trick to mix both meats when making meatballs! The soup was nutty tasting with a spice that waits a bit before making itself known. Interestingly the noodles were more reminiscent of spaghetti but still very soft. The overall feeling was that the dish was like a spicy bolognese, quite westernised but still good in its own right.
Tombo has a inviting range of matcha infused drinks including matcha lemonade and matcha apple and ginger juice. The lemonade was tart which I love, and the matcha was very present too. The juice tasted mostly of apple so if you prefer sweeter beverages I’d go for one of these. I was thrilled to see they use paper straws, reducing plastic waste. David Attenborough would be proud 😀
I’ve been to Tombo a few times and despite being busy, I’ve normally been seated straight away. Avoiding peak times is advisable but you’re unlikely to have a lengthy wait since turn around is pretty quick. The menu has a lovely mix of Japanese dishes, prices are decent and it’s a good place to get away from the mad crowds. Next time I’m definitely getting my hands on some of their cakes!
Total receipt (2 people): £32.46
1x Spicy tantanmen 9.85
1x Kaisen poke bowl 11.10
1x Matcha lemonade 3.95
1x Matcha juice 3.95
Service (12.5%) 3.61