Location: Raffles Dubai
AED 249 (Soft drinks)
AED 349 (House Beverages)
Timings: 12.30-3.30 PM
“Bibamus, moriendum est .(Let us drink – for we shall die)”-Seneca
Living in Dubai we are spoiled with choice when it comes to Japanese Restaurants. A quick search on Zomato reveals over 60 Japanese or Japanese Fusion restaurants in Dubai alone. Dubai is ranked second behind Tokyo for the number of Japanese restaurants per capita (I made that fact up). To truly appreciate TOMO, you need to have been lucky enough to eat at Kisaku, it’s humbler predecessor. Kisaku was a small traditional Japanese restaurant located in Al Khaleej Palace Hotel, located on Maktoum Road (Old Dubai). Kisaku was a creation of Chitoshi Takahashi, who was the first to successfully import the authentic flavors of Japan to the UAE. The menu was long and challenging to navigate for us non-Japanese (over 120 items). Most of the ingredients were imported from Japan and cooked and presented in authentic Japanse style. Kisaku was typically packed with the Japanese expat community day in an day out. Chef Takahashi went on to launch TOMO, which essentially served the same menu, but in a much larger and fancier setting.
Chef Takahashi has since sold his share and returned to Japan. The menu has been condensed, but the quality and authenticity remain.
The brunch menu is served buffet style, in addition to a few cooking stations. Food items include:
- Selection of Japanese salads and starters such as seaweed salad, tofu..
- Yakitori skewers including chicken wings, minced beef
- Breaded and fried vegetables and seafood: eggplant, sweet potato, asparagus, fish, oysters
- Fried and steamed rice
- Miso soup
- Sushi (Nigiri and Maki rolls only- no Sashimi)
- Tempura cooking station
- Grilled wagyu beef station
Overall the food is outstanding. However I would prefer if they changed from buffet style to serving sharing platters to the tables. I opted to order sushi, tempura and beef straight from the chefs, which was then delivered our table fresh- this is inevitably better than taking items directly from the buffet trays.
House beverages includes beers (Kirin Draft), Sake (hot or cold), Shochu (stronger and less sweet than sake, typically served on the rocks), and wine (white & red). As a fan of both sake and shochu the beverages were perfectly to my liking. However both these beverages are an acquired taste, thus it would be beneficially to include basic house spirits to the package for other guests.
The staff and service are impeccable. If you have ever visited Japan this will not come as a surprise given the infamous Japanese hospitality. This is based around the Japnese concept of “Omotenashi” which can be summarized as :selflessness and anticipation. The concept is all about offering the best service without the expectation of a reward. You abandon your interest for the benefit of your guest or your customer.
The vibe is quite subdued during the brunch; the table layout is designed to offer privacy to guests. If you are seeking to converse with good friends over excellent food; then I would say that TOMO is ideal. Perhaps they can consider incorporating Karaoke for the guests who get the sudden urge to sing, after exuberant amounts of sake.
Value for Money: 18/20.