[Skip to the link at the bottom if you would like to read the same report with pictures]
Tomoe Japanese Restaurant - 810 3rd St - San Rafael - CA 94901 - (415) 456-3844
Tomoe is a Japanese gem, unceremoniously plonked at the corner of a parking lot facing a one-way thoroughfare where three lanes of cars hurtle by, probably unaware of what they are passing up.
I've only ever been for lunch. View the short, very reasonably priced lunchtime menu in the link below
All the dishes are served with a little pickle and green tea plus rice and miso if you aren't having one of the noodle or soup dishes.
On my last visit, with friend, V, we shared an order of gyoza to start. These fat, juicy and extremely garlicky ground pork dumplings are clearly homemade. One of them was even falling apart, as I imagine mine would, if I ever tried to make them myself. This was not a problem, because they tasted superb, especially when dipped in a mixture of the vinegar and sesame oil provided in unmarked, quirky, plastic bottles. Garnish included a huge pile of crunchy shredded green cabbage with a superlative golden-orange coloured dressing that neither V or I could work out the components of.
The gyoza were filling. For lunch, an order of them, would actually be enough for me, but a dish of winter Ramen noodles had already been ordered and was on its way. A steamy bowl of thin, savoury stock topped with succulent slices of pork, psychedellic fish cake, seaweed and boiled egg. Underneath the surface were slices of tasty, al dente mushroom (at least I think that is what they were) and a pile of eggy noodles. The broth's delicate flavour was given a bit more of kick when sprinkled with Ramen Kosho - a white pepper mix prepared with garlic and onion.
I was so engrossed in my own food, I forgot to ask V what he thought of his Sashimi and Tempura plate. As he eats the same thing there almost every week, I will assume he finds it excellent. V told me he had recently been talking to the owners and that they had told him they are thinking of retiring and closing up the place this Summer. I can't confirm this is true until my next visit, but in the meantime it makes a good excuse for you to get your arse over to San Rafael before it's too late, just in case.