Place your zen here.If Bend's boom years produced Deep and Kanpai, then perhaps the fine new Japanese-style dining at Tomo is the product of our collective belt-tightening. From owners Howie and Di Long, also the proprietors of Central Oregon Asian-themed restaurants BaBa, SOBA and Szechuan, comes Tomo Japanese Restaurant, a really good, reasonably-priced sushi bar and an extensive dine-in menu matched by take-out options, including sushi ranging in price from $2 for Inari (tofu skin) to $10 for two kinds of Tempura rolls.
Tomo's focus is traditional and modern Japanese dishes, like sashimi, Ramen noodles, Tempura shrimp and veggies, and Edamame, as well as the Bento lunch option, prepared with fresh, organic produce "as often as possible," according to the restaurant's web site. It also has a full bar.
Two recent visits were made to the Tomo dining room with the plan of sampling as much of the menu as possible between two people without spending more than $20 per person, per visit. And we were pleasantly surprised. As soon as we walked in the door, a member of the wait staff, who actually seemed ecstatic to see someone come in for dinner, considering the roads were all ice and snow, greeted us warmly.
Being the only people in the restaurant, we chose a seat in the middle of the long dining room, affording us the opportunity to soak up the ambiance of the re-designed restaurant. The booths are modern chic, and look like something you'd stumble into at a San Francisco sushi bar, not a strip mall in Bend. The Longs went to the trouble of installing a bamboo wall, shipped in from San Diego. There is even a private dining area called the Tatami Room offering an option for a quiet, romantic evening or quaint dinner party.
The first evening we ordered a "small plate" of Beef Enoki ($7), a dish of fresh mushrooms wrapped around thin slices of seared beef and topped with a ginger-wasbi-miso sauce. It was bursting with flavor and just the right size for an appetizer. Next, I opted for the Dinner Sushi Combo ($15), which included seven pieces - salmon, ebi, maguro, yellowtail, unagi, escolar and snapper - and six pieces of spicy tuna. My guest went with Tomo Glazed Pork Chops, marinated and seared with a maple-miso glaze and served with jicama slaw. We went over our $40 target a little, but walked away more than satisfied.
Night two, we again ordered a "small plate," this time going for the Ika Furai ($9). It wasn't the best calamari we'd ever sampled, but we also didn't leave any on the plate. Next, my guest chose Yakisoba Delight ($10), a stir fry with shrimp, chicken, assorted greens, yakisoba noodles and Tomo's "house special seasonings." It looked great and I noticed she spent most of the meal chewing rather than talking. This time, I ordered a Dinner Bento of Hot and Sour Udon Noodles, Agedashi Tofu, a veggie roll and assorted Tempura. The food was fine, but I regretted the decision because I found the portion to be a little small for the $14 price tag.
This time we came in $7 under our $40 target. A unique dinner for two in a terrific setting for just over $30 was well worth the trip through the foul weather.