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New Sushi Tomo location, University Ave., PA

Sushi Monster | Mar 6, 200606:18 PM

My apologies in advance if I've somehow overlooked an existing thread on the new Sushi Tomo location in Palo Alto (201 University Ave., in the space formerly World Wrapps).

Downtown Palo Alto needs one more sushi option the way it needs one more place to buy expensive coffee drinks. With that said, here's the quick take on my lunch today:

A very large lunch menu, by anyone's standards, with both sushi and cooked options, bento box, shashimi specials, teriyaki specials on the whiteboard, etc. As for the sushi, the nigiri are large and of so-so quality, with most of the standard offerings running $2.75 for two pieces. The best of the popular nigiri I tried was the spicy scallop, which is served minced, with a creamy sauce garnished with tiny roe of some indeterminate sort. The standard salmon and shrimp nigiri were large, passable and lacking any remarkable flavor or character at all.

Tomo's hardly the place for an orthodox sushi experience. (For that, you'd want tiny, traditional Sushi Ya, just one block to the east on University ... ) This is a place with all the ambience of a Denny's, fast service and a menu of American-style specialty rolls that numbers 44 varieties. Many of the standard rolls are $3.50, with some of the more exotic eight-piece varieties going as high as $8. My teriyaki salmon roll was an error on my part – dry, mealy, overcooked and filled with bones. I probably would have ordered more, but after putting away most of this, the bloom was off the proverbial rose for today...

Service-wise, I went at the height of the lunch rush, was seated at the bar quickly and served quickly. No chance to chat with the harried sushi chef working the bar. (The menu explicitly says "For your safety, only order sushi through your waitress." I suppose if one wanted to live dangerously and bought rogue, black-market fugu from some ne-er-do-well in a trench coat standing behind the palm tree in the corner, that might pose some sort of a health risk ...)

Bottom line: minimally acceptable quality sushi, and big portions of it, served quick and cheap. I got out for $15 plus tip, whereas my usual lunch portion runs $24-$27 at most other area sushi bars.

Granted, this is better than what it replaced (the unlamentable World Wrapps), but it's still an unremarkable addition to the food mix in the area. Here's why: Within two blocks on University you have Sushi Ya for traditional Japanese-style sushi and Miyake for loud-as-bombs American-style party sushi. Within five minutes, you have Fuki Sushi to the south, and Naomi, Koma and Akasaka all just across the creek in Menlo Park. So given that embarrasment of riches, the new Tomo seems to be content to stake out the low end of what was already a very vibrant and competitive market.

-- Sushi Monster

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