Tomo Japanese Dining and Verse Cafe in San Juan City
It's no big secret how much I love Japanese food. I just can't live without my sashimi and sushi. In fact, I dined and celebrated my 40th birthday at a Japanese restaurant TWICE this year. I think, it's one of those cuisines that I'll never get tired off. Well, the choices are endless as there are just a lot of ways to enjoy your Japanese food. You can have it done in various ways -- teppanyaki, yakitori, teriyaki, deep-fried, raw, with broth, mixed into your noodles or rice and the list goes on and on.
One of our family's favorite Japanese restaurants in the neighborhood is Tomo Japanese Dining. We love this restaurant so much for it's extensive menu options and they also have a coffee shop called Verse Cafe that's adjacent to it that serves superb coffee and tea drinks. Here's actually a compilation of dishes that we have enjoyed throughout the multiple visits that we have made to these two establishments. The good thing is, you can order from Tomo even if you're seated at Verse Cafe so that's like getting the best of both "worlds" in one go. I'm not sure though if you can do so vice versa.
One of the visits that we had was to celebrate my A-I's (ayi) birthday. She's Mommy's only sister and growing up, A-I has always been like our second mom. She and my Ama would stay with us whenever my parents would go on business trips. A-I, just like Mommy, has been our confidante. In fact, she's the less strict, less worrywart version of Mommy so often times, we would tell her things we would normally not immediately disclose to our parents (heehee). I bet you though that she tells my mom everything but anyways... She loves Japanese food and so it was an easy decision to take her to Tomo Japanese Dining to celebrate her special day. She lovesss ebi tempura and chawan mushi so those were immediately added into our order.
Service has always been good at either Tomo or Verse Cafe. The restaurant is always packed though so be ready to wait a while for your orders to arrive. Only on one occasion that our server mistakenly served my friend's order to another table so that dish never made its way to its rightful owner. Haha! They were very apologetic nonetheless so all ended well. Even my kids love Tomo so much that J would ask to order "crunchy octopus" whenever we're there. Sadly, they do not have octopus in the menu so it was deep-fried calamari for my little boy which he loves.
Here are some of the dishes that are must-tries in these two restaurants:
I always remember Kongkong whenever I order this. It's his favorite hand-rolled maki and no visit to any Japanese restaurant would be complete without having Futo Maki. It somehow became a habit for us even if he's no longer physically with us. For as long as we're dining out as a family, there will always be Futo Maki on the table. Tomo makes really good and authentic Futo Maki or at least one that's similar to what we have been enjoying through the years. It's filled with kani, tamago, Japanese pickle, wakame and my personal favorite, the pink sakura denbu which is ground codfish.
Tomo Japanese Dining has a wide variety of sushi and hand-rolled maki and a lot are even very creative. However, we stuck to the classic and just like the Futo Maki, the California Maki is one that everyone loves. Can never go wrong with this.
We have been noticing that a lot of customers have been ordering Kani Salad whenever we dine at Verse Cafe. Paul and I decided to give it a try and wow it was so good! It was a refreshing bowl of strips of cucumber, kani and mangoes. The amount of mayonnaise was just right and what I love was amount of ebiko sprinkled on top of it. I'm definitely ordering this again next time.
During one of our dinner outs with my friends A and E, I decided to order this for myself. I enjoyed this soooo much! The serving was quite big that halfway through this, I wish that I shared this with Paul instead. Anyways, I love the fresh sashimi slices most especially the creamy uni and salmon. It's actually one of the best chirashi dons that I've had so far and given the generous size of this dish, it was definitely worth the price.
This was what we had during A-I's birthday dinner. Apart from ebi tempura, she loves chawan mushi and I'm so happy about this as so do I. Paul is not a fan so we rarely order this but since I found someone who loves it too, then I got all the reason to try Tomo's version. It was okay, the egg custard was silky but I find the toppings to be a bit lacking.
Another famous dish at Tomo Japanese Dining but I have to admit that I've had better versions elsewhere. I just feel like the size of the shrimp was a tad too small and it was just mostly deep-fried crunchy batter in every bite. It's not bad but I've had better.
Chicken Teriyaki / Toriju
Ahh this is one dish that's also a staple on our family dining table. The kids love chicken teriyaki because of the tender chicken meat and the sweet teriyaki sauce that coats the rice in the process. The serving size was just right and you can either order your Chicken Teriyaki minus the rice or as a set already with miso soup.
We initially wondered if we have accidentally ordered Takoyaki but no, these are round potato balls with smoked paprika and bonito flakes on top. It's served with garlic aioli which made it sooo good! Sadly, the kids were so focused on all the other dishes that we had more tater tots for the adults to enjoy. This is a yummy appetizer and a good alternative to fries or wedges.
Beer Battered Fish & Chips
Now, this is how fish and chips should be made. We enjoyed the crispy outside and the inside was so soft and flavorful. They made use of mahi fillet so that got Mommy's seal of approval as she is quite picky with her choice of fish fillet. The serving was very generous and it comes with a basket of deep-fried potato chips too.
There were a lot more dishes that we were able to enjoy throughout the multiple visits that we've made. There's this super yummy tomato-based pasta from Verse Cafe that was so al dente and tasty. Sadly I can't remember what it's called but a quick glance at their menu will surely tell you which one I'm pertaining to.
Tomo also has this to-die-for Hijiki Fried Rice that we were able to try and wow it was so good. It's made with hijiki seaweeds and Japanese rice. We just happen to see our neighboring table ordering it and we got really curious so we tried a bowl. Wow, it was so good! While I am a fan of kamameshi and teppanyaki-style fried rice, this one was truly at a different level of its own.
The two restaurants can get very packed especially during weekends so I highly recommend for you to call and make a reservation in advance. While there are a lot of Japanese restaurants out there, only a handful can do it right and stick as close to its authenticity.
Related post: Authentic Japanese Fare at Tomo Japanese Dining (2016)
Tomo Japanese Dining and Verse Cafe are located at 137 Araullo street, San Juan City. Follow them on Facebook for more details.