Restaurant Review: Tomo

By Jimmy Denfield/Eat.Drink.Gwangju.

The weather is getting cold and snow and ice are welcoming the streets of Gwangju. Tonight dinner and review were meant to be had in Sangmu, but for whatever reason I had a change of heart. I walked around my local neighborhood of Poongam-dong and discovered a hidden gem; “Tomo.”

“Tomo” is a fusion restaurant. Before you get cynical and bypass this entry all-together, let me just say, this is the good kind of fusion. Tomo’s sign claims it to be a Japanese restaurant, but their menu says different.

Tomo’s menu included sushi, tempura, fried rice dishes and tons of chicken, beef, pork and seafood pots. I was explained by the head sushi chef that “Tomo” is a fusion mostly between Japanese and Chinese cuisine. The menu was all in Korean, and the chef said to me that their full menu wasn’t available until after Christmas. I opted for the sushi which ran me 20,000W.

I was welcome with an interesting appetizer plate. On the left were excellent sweet potato chips, made fresh. The middle were rice balls, flavored with soy and ginger. On the right was a fantastic oyster on the half-shell.

Next, came a big steaming bowl of mussel soup. At first taste I thought to myself, oh God, this is going to be bland. Then it hit me, the garlic, chives, leeks and mussels. It was good; really good. Throughout my dining experience, I kept reaching back for the soup, until it was entirely gone; sans the shells.tomo

Finally, out came the sushi. There were only nine pieces, but I was already feeling good from the soup and appetizers. All of the pieces were incredibly tasty and fresh. I must warn you for those who go heavy on the wasabi with soy sauce; it’s not needed! The wasabi used on all of the pieces were thicker, and less creamy. I’m led to believe that it is made in-house. The fish wasn’t slimy nor frozen, which is common at conveyor belt restaurants and “Miss Roll.” The fish tasted good; fresh. After my meal, I was served some nice chill apple slices.

The highlight of “Tomo” is it’s eclectic atmosphere; there is enough art to house a small gallery. It was nice to be in a restaurant that makes you feel like you’re in a big Western-city’s’ restaurant. (New York, L.A., San Francisco). There was a lot of thought and design put in to Tomo. This would be a great place to enjoy an evening whiskey, sake or even soju, after work. I do recommend you go with a friend or two. Aside from sushi, most dishes on the menu are for groups.

Overall, for 20,000W, I was greatly impressed with “Tomo.” If you’re even in Poongam-dong, check out the Hand-drip Coffee shop, and head up to “Tomo” for some Japanese-Chinese fusion (in a good way).

How to get here: Here is a map, the restaurant is across from the small park. MAP. Take bus 59, 71, 45, 74 or 78 to Poongam Je-Soo-Ji (풍암저수지), walk down past the Cabane (log cabin restaurant) and make a left. Walk up the hill until you see “Tomo” on the left side. Or, you can take a taxi to Poongam-dong Je-Soo-Ji.