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Restaurants & Bars 3

Cafe Tomo - Bahn Mi (long)

KathySK | Jul 6, 200505:50 PM

Well, I went to Cafe Tomo (or Tomo Cafe, depending where you look!) today on Windy's suggestion from the threads about lunch in the FiDi. I really wanted to like the place, and I'm not prepared to dismiss it entirely yet, but I was less than thrilled with my initial visit.

I ordered the cha bahn mi (listed as Vietnamese ham on the menu), $3.80 after tax, and was told it'd be a 10 minute wait. I inquired and was told that I could call and order ahead in the future. I asked for a menu, but they didn't have one, but gave me a business card with their web address on it - the web site has their menu (address listed below). That was fine, though it made me a little curious when the other dishes that should require a bit of cooking were coming out much faster.

The sandwich though, was what I was after! As previously mentioned, the bread wasn't the best, but it also was not the worst that I've had in this neighborhood. In fact, it was probably the second best sandwich, bread-wise that I've had around here (first place on the bread goes to City Kinetics on Mission, the rest are a 3 way tie for "eh" as Lee's, Cafe Algiers and any of the other non-chain restaurants all seem to get their bread from the same mediocre source). The bread was cut oddly, it was sort of a crescent shape, but instead of being cut across the width of it, when the bread came to rest on its side, the sandwich maker had cut straight down along the crescent, making a very difficult to eat sandwich.

Ok, so on to the filling - this is where things got disappointing. The best part of it was the pate (good tasting on its own, but couldn't stand up to the amount of bread in any bite, I would have liked a lot more to be present in the sandwich - I could only really taste the pate when I scraped some out of the sandwich to taste it alone). The cha/Vietnamese ham was present in decent quantity, but it was in these oddly perfect half circles that tasted and looked like nothing so much as the "turkey breast" that comes in the yellow plastic packages in the lunchmeat section of your average grocery store. I am not familiar enough with what cha is or should be to know if this is normal and I'm off base, but I wasn't happy with my choice, either way. Anyone who is in the know, I'd love to find out if this was a good example of cha or not?

What could have saved the sandwich (but sadly didn't) were the veggies. There were hardly any, which was really unfortunate. There were about 5 thin slices of cucumber, and they were the crunchiest, most distinctive part of the sandwich. A sad scattering of limp pickled carrot and radish strips were in there, but they didn't add anything to the taste (no pickled flavor) or to the texture (they were decidedly limp, not a crunch to be found in them). Additionally, although I didn't notice it at the time (just assumed it would be there) there was no cilantro.

I had asked for spicy, because when I order it that way at Wrap Delight I get slices of jalapeno which I like. I asked for extra jalapeno on the side here and was told they don't have jalapeno - a discovery which came too late. A bit of rooster sauce (sorry, don't know the proper name, it's that hot red chili sauce with the picture of the rooster on it that you see bottles of all over the place) had been put on the sandwich and that was really the most distinct flavor I got out of it.

So, although I was really hoping to love this sandwich I didn't like it at all and would not order again, especially for almost double the price of a much better example to be had at Wrap Delight (sadly too far for me to get to during lunch!)

Anyhow, as Windy especially recommended the sukiyaki, I'm going to give it one more try. Sukiyaki special is available on Mondays, so I'll return then and hopefully have a better time! Also, their soup and noodle bowls looked promising.

From their business card:
Tomo Cafe
50 First Street, #A
(between Market & Mission)

And the previous FiDi lunch thread (month 3 of lunches) that led me here:


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