Tomo Izakaya: Casual Japanese "Dim Sum"

With Amagada

Uni Shot $12

There is little doubt that Japanese food is still the current favourite foreign cuisine amongst Singaporeans and the trend doesn't look like it is going to wane anytime soon. You get a sense of this just by observing the number of new Japanese eateries that are appearing everywhere. But we also know this from the poll results that was done earlier this year. So judging from the trend, I think we are going to see more Japanese eateries appearing and they are going to move away from the general Japanese fare to more regional and specialty cuisine as the restaurants try to differentiate themselves from the established players.

One of the new players in the scene is Tomo Izakaya. An Izakaya is basically the Japanese version of a Tapas Bar or Dim Sum restaurant, in the sense that they serve a variety of small dishes which you can order to accompany your drinks. Being situated in Clarke Quay, I think this concept would work well with the afterwork crowd looking for a place to unwind.

The food here is quite decent and there are several items which really caught my attention. The first was the Uni shot which is fresh Uni submerged in Sake with a wasabi and soy dressing. The Uni here is very fresh and the restaurant prides itself in having their seafood flown in from the famed Tsukiji Market in Tokyo twice a week. Certainly a very nice starter! 4.25/5

Tuna Bowl (Part of Tempura Udon Set) $16

Aside from the freshness of the seafood, another indicator of the quality of a Japanese eatery is the standard of the sushi rice and the wasabi. The rice is is very good and perfectly seasoned such that, like the Gardenia Bread slogan from long ago, it's "So good, you can even eat it on its own!". 4/5

Braised Pork $12

I highly recommend the Braised Pork dish. I think the photo speaks for itself. The braised pork was superbly done with that "melt in your mouth" texture and that elusive "Kong Bak" taste. I would be very happy to come here and just eat this! 4.5/5

Saikoro Steak Lunch Set $14
The lunch sets here are pretty good value which is an important consideration in our current economic climate. Most of them are priced in the teens and you get quality that you can taste in a very cosy setting.The Saikoro Steak Lunch was very good value as I got more cubed Australian Sirloin than I expected for the price. The meat was a good and was tender and flavoursome. I thought that the sauce could be a little sweeter to give it a bit more ooomph. 4.25/5

Sashimi Plate $58

Being an Izakaya, they strive to serve all your favourites here and that must include Sashimi. I am not a big fan of Sashimi but I can appreciate that the seafood here is very fresh. I especially liked the amaebi (sweet prawns) and the uni (sea urchin). Of course, you get what you pay for so don't come here expecting really cheap prices since all the seafood are flown in from Japan. 4/5

Beef Robatayaki

If you are going for drinks and nibblies, then I am sure you will end up with some Robatayaki dishes. I tried a few and in general they were good but not quite spectacular as it lacked that charred flavour that I was expecting. They don't serve Karubi beef or US Angus which I feel should be included in any joint that wants to label itself as a "Robatayaki" which has the connotation of a higher end form of Kushiyaki. I also couldn't find Butabara (Pork Belly) on the menu which was again something I would expect at a Robatayaki joint. I think this is one department that can be spruced up prior to their official opening. 3.5/5

Salmon Roe Shot


This would be wonderful place to hangout with a few friends after work for drinks and a few bites to eat as the location is great and it's got a really cozy laid back ambiance. The lunch sets are pretty good value and the Braised Pork is something I would highly recommend if you have a few calories to spend. I do hope to see them expand their Robatayaki menu to include good quality Karubi and Butabara.

Update: 23 Oct 2008

Sorry there was an error with regards to the Braised Pork Set. The Braised Pork is not part of the lunch set but can be ordered as a separate dish on its own.

Tomo Izakaya
3A River Valley Road (Clarke Quay)

#01-04 (opp bridge)


Open for Lunch and Dinner

This was an invited review


Man of Ideas said...

The food looks nice and not to mention the nice setting and place of the restaurant. I must try it soon!

homeladychef said...

It seems like this restaurant has some "wow" effects. Thanks for sharing ~ :)

sgfoodlover said...

It is time for some Japanese food haha!

Anonymous said...

Leslie, if it was an invited review, you should had state so right from the beginning.
The unwritten 'Blogger's Code of Ethics' is that anything that is advertorial or review should start the post with the sentence,

'This post is an advertorial'
'This post is an invited review'

Come clean with it and bare it right at the beginning and not hide or squeeze it into the last line or anywhere.

So readers know what is it all about as they read along. Needless to say, some readers do not finish reading everything hence will miss out on it if you put it at the last line.

Also may I remind you to give a totally unbiased review even if the meal didn't cost you a cent. Sure some will jump at it because it is a free product to try but if it's real bad and you can't say it, then you're downright lying. Especially if a trusted reader went to try it because you gave a high score, then you are risking readers getting 'mental' when they found out you had 'cleverly' hidden the 'flaws'.

ice said...

The uni and ikura shots are so nicely taken! Must have tasted good too. I can easily down a few of those. :)

danny kwok said...

picture tell a thousand words...doesn't really matter if its invited review or not.

mmmm, just swallow saliva :p~~, love the pictures

khim said...

anonymous, i think u really have nothing better to do to pick a bone wif tis post..

wat difference does it make if e disclaimer is at e start of at e end of e post?

if e disclaimer is at e start of e post, does it mean tat readers should stop reading or do they get to eat for free?

readers wanna know where e good food is. y would anyone wanna know where e bad food is?? it's just like i'm already telling u there's a deep hole down e road & u purposely wanna go down e hole to see if e hole is really deep?

leslie has a lot of places he went to but never make it to e blog, whether invited review or not..

go get a life, u only know how to hide behind an anonymous id!

cactuskit said...

Agree absolutely with Khim. I know he doesn't blog all the places he eats, invited or not. For this post, he even gave a rating of 3.5 for one of the items.

I've been to several restaurants with him where we paid the full bill to review the food. He doesn't go around looking for free food. With his job, he doesn't need these free meals.

And as a reviewer who doesn't charge for reviews but doing it as a hobby and passion, do we expect him to ask for the bill when an outlet invites him to review? That would be quite rude of him.

He would always assume that he's paying unless it was made known to him that its an invitation.

Anon, don't bother responding. Post is not meant for you. Its for those who appreciate Leslie's work and would like to know this guy better.

Anonymous said...

I think if it is advertorial or review, it should state in the heading. So as not to mislead readers coz if readers know it is an advert or review, they will take the post as a pinch of salt as normally review or advert, you are paid to do, so it will be more flavourable towards the product rather than otherwise. Just my 2 c.

cactuskit said...

Fair point there. That would typically apply for most sites. But the outlets that get the highest reviews here are usually those mom and pop stalls. He pays for every meal there. And I think if one is with this blog long enough, one will know that Les is his own man, with his own principles and taste. Being invited to review is still a review if he doesn't charge a single cent and has a caveat to them that he'll only post if the food is of a certain standard.

He does indicate when they are invited reviews.

The Dictator said...

Anon is so crappy.
So what happens if the reader only look at the picture and the address? Shld leslie insert a sound clip to tell his reader that its a invited review...
I am sure there are some uncles and aunties who are not so good in english and are regulars of the site. said...

Woah...the pictures are nice, making me extremely hungry now... :)

khim said...

my galfriend n i r already making plans to go there for dinner next week! ;)

regular food blog reader said...

Hi people

Anon 04:20's tone may be rather testy but I think it's fair suggestion that the indication of invited review should be stated upfront. Also, paid for or not, the service, presentation and even food standard will likely be different depending on whether the reviewer ate at the restaurant incognito or as a recognised invited guest - and this is not indicated in the review. Obviously too all these info will colour how the review is received by readers.

Of course this is a personal non professional food review blog and the writer can choose what to disclose. Conversely readers, too should judge for themselves the credibility of each review by looking for the fine print.


Plan B said...

The pictures look nice. I should have a try !!!

Plan B

Anonymous said...

I think normally for a review, it should be an unbiased view of a product while advertorial should be a positive advertisement because they are paid to do so.

But however I think bloggers have a tendency to do a more positive review even if they are not paid and that is common sense because the real 'ethical' one who speaks the truth and nothing will rick having no companies approaching them in the future. I mean if you are a company looking for reviews, surely you would feel dumb to give people your product to try only for them to say bad stuff about it right?

I too agree 'Advertorial' should be mentioned at the top with a big word. It should be made visible to every readers possible and not only be 'found out' by the clever ones.

Anyway readers should know that an advertorial or review, it is just to spread awareness of a product's existence so they should not read too much into all the good things and expect no negative things even if it wasnt mentioned. Just like an advert you see anywhere, in papers or TV.

Anonymous said...

cacuskit : I don't agree with you there...clearly leslie is being paid for this post...and the payment is of course not in cash...but in kind....but he should had mention so somewhere no one can miss....putting it at the last's a position where people could miss so's just like a newspaper article put the headline at the last line...what do you think?.....i agree it should be at a position that is clear to all that it is a gimmicks no catch's a fair deal...the restaurant give you free write and help to promote them.......but readers must know and bring to attention loud and clear...

look at some examples..

cactuskit said...

We can go on and on and on over this issue, but at the end of the day, there is a difference between you and some of us in the blog's forum. The difference is that we know Leslie as a friend. I have evaluated and found him to be a worthy friend.

Like "regular food blog reader" mentioned, this is not a professional/ commercial food review site but Leslie's personal food blog. When he places his caveat (before or after post) is his perogative. Perhaps he wants others to read his reviews without any pre-conceived ideas about the food.

You correctly pointed out that he earns nothing from the food reviews, but instead gets some complimentary meals occasionally (which he is always upfront about). You need to know that these meals are no big deal to this man. If any, I reckon that he is more cautious when it comes to complimentary food reviews for reasons of objectivity.

To conclude, I hope you can join some of us in the blog's forum and befriend Leslie. Perhaps, you would one day defend his integrity like some of us do.

I'm glad that the comments have not be accompanied by name calling and uncalled for attacks. For that, I respect you and your views. : )

ieat said...

Thanks for all the feedback on this issue. I would suggest that this discussion be moved to the forum where there is a lot more room for discussion. I will address your concerns there. Please keep the comments here centred on the food.

Everyone has the opportunity to go taste for themselves and make their own judgement as to whether the review was fair or wait for some others to try it and read their review.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

frankly, a food review being advertorial or not will not stand if the food is just plain bad. even if the blogger paid for it. it doesn't matter if the blogger rave abt it and people swarm to the place, business won't hold out for long at all, s'pore being a food place.

even if the eatery made the food "better" just for the blogger, the surge in business can only last so long if they have no business ethics = good food is 1st. and word of mouth is as powerful as any high budget marketing tool. it's just it.

lastly, a good blogger no matter underground (doesn't expose his/her face) or not would want to preserve his/her blog integrity. no point raving over something and bring his/her reputation down. it's like anything in life, once u lost the trust, no 1 will take a shit you say.

so, as long as he put the disclaimer out, it really doesn't matter he bolded + caps it on top of the entry. people will read it anyway, whether with a pinch or a tonne of salt. people WILL just read. a disclaimer won't make 1 that differently no matter what if they are the blog's loyal follower.

things are, simple as that.

liverpool1965 said...

oooo the tuna bowl with tempura udon at $16? must try... :)

cactuskit said...

I wanna go for the braised pork and beef steak sets. $12 and $14, very reasonable. : )

BellyBelle said...

Interestingly, we stumbled upon Tomo Izakaya when searching for a Japanese restaurant to feed at last weekend.

Must say, we didn't have too good a dining experience there. As my dining partner puts it, "the hard infrastructure is there, alas, the software is a letdown".

To summarise:

- the ambience was good... though I found the 'live' jazz music a tad too loud - we had to shout to hear each other whenever the band is jamming!

- the food was so-so... let's just say it is decent enough if you're not too fussy.

Strangely, we overlooked that it's an Izakaya place. We ended up ordering a plate of mixed Sashimi (portions were very small), a cold soba (tasted very 'artificial'), grilled shisamo (probably the best of all the dishes we ordered), a bowl of soup each and warm Sake.

- the service was what marred our dinner...

When one of the soups was presented at our table, the waitress very quickly removed the soup bowl cover and whisked away with it. We tried to catch her attention as my friend wished to keep the soup warm with the cover. No luck.

Upon the presentation of the other bowl of soup, we indicated that it would have been appreciated if the bowl cover is left at the table.

The curt reply was, "Huh? Oh... my job is to remove the cover mah!"

We were silent at this stage; she added, "Get used to it."

Enough said.

JENCOOKS said...

Fresh Fry Aka
Well said.

Anony - guess u can talk further in the forum as Les & Cactuskit said.
There is a point but try some April Fool's joke and add that to the top of the article, who will read it without a biased mind already? Anyway, there was no small print to the tinest font that this is an invited review. Pls take note of this. Cleared. Open your mind to read otherwise you may have tosquint your thots about reading the review cos your mind wud then have been swayed and biased then. There is always a side to every coin.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Doc, mind letting all of us here know exactly what kind of stakes you have in Astons?

ieat said...


Just let us know your name, address, email and I will meet with you together with Astons and tell you all about it.

khim said...

les, i just realised tat both e Saikoro Steak & Braised Pork is served during lunch.. so dinner they have other choices??

i'll comment on tis place after my visit next week.. =)

ieat said...

Sorry, I just realized that the Braised Pork is not part of the lunch set but a dish you order on its own. But it really is a must try. For dinner they have a lot of other stuff but I can only vouch for the braised pork.

khim said...

then can i order e Saikoro Steak as an ala carte? i'm gonna at least try these 2 items!! =)

ieat said...

I think they have a variety of beef there including Wagyu that you can try.n Should try the Uni Shot. That one was interesting.

khim said...

my galfriend confirm will try e Uni Shot! dunno how much i'm gonna spend tis time! wahahaha..

Anonymous said...

Hallo Doc, sure. When and where?

cactuskit said...

Anon, Cactuskit has stakes in Kim's HKM, Wahcow runs a chain of old style bak kut teh stalls, Holydrummer, Holybro, and Holybunny bought over Ya Kwang, Sumo is a major shareholder in Swa Gardens, Uncle Smart lagi tok kong, he owns Chinatown FC and Tampines Rpound Mkt!!! And all the Ieat forummers own Good Morning Nanyang Cafe!!!!

What about you? You have stakes in Comedy Central?

ieat said...

Our Kakis are meeting for lunch tomorrow. Why don't you come join us. Just write to my email, leave your HP number and I will inform you of the time and venue

Anonymous said...

Hallo midget, you are quite defensive. Why? You have something to hide ar?

angela said...

cactus, U r really funny.... Thanks for de joke in such a sombre day....

wahcow said...

moohahahahaha!!!! this is really funny ! thanks for brightening up the afternoon !

aiyoh...i think i can make decisions where i want to go after reading the review and the ratings.

But hey....if ieat gives rating that are not consistent with the food, then no one will come back to read this blog !!

its also true that sometimes we do not agree with ieat's rating but the fact that a good number of readers keep coming back to visit this blog means their taste and ieat's is about the same.

jems said...

should we meet for lunch one of these days at this restaurant. The uni shot certainly had me~ :)

ieat said...

For further discussion on the topic of whether to declare an invited review at the top of the post or not, please go to the forum where a new thread has already been started.

Dictator said...

i think leslie is being compared with the celebrities now... good work!

Chinchaione said...

Guys and girls, please don't be harsh or uncivilised when you have an opinion. If your words are kind enough and if it is a reasonable suggestion, I am sure people can accept and implement it. We are all educated people living in a 1st world country, so let's be human.

Leslie : Criticisms are there because you are getting the attention! These criticism that comes in are going to make your blog nicer, better, more professional with the right attitude. Take them as a source for improvement! You mentioned about upgrading to wordpress few months back, is it coming very soon? We all can't wait to see ieat on wordpress!

ieat said...

Reynolds, you have made good points but as I have requested this issue to be further discussed in the forum, so I have transferred your comments there:

Chinchaione, yes I am still looking into the techicalities of moving my blog to wordpress. Not so simple.

cactuskit said...

Very wise words, Chinchaione! : )

Holy Drummer said...

All along, I've dismissed Tomo as over-priced and touristy, but seeing that their lunch sets are quite a steal at <$20 I think I'm willing to give them a shot.

Man of Ideas said...

I love Japanese food but most of the times they come at premium prices.

khim said...

finally tried tis yesterday night.. both gf & i liked e Uni Shot! very smooth & uni is sweet too..

tried e braised pork & saikoro steak too.. saikoro steak is nicely done but a bit disappointed wif e braised pork.. e meat portion is TOUGH although e fats is savoury & melt-in-ur-mouth..

other dishes we tried were:
deep fried scallops wif avocado - not bad, but only 2 small piece..
kimchee ramen - my gf had them, tried some. e ramen itself can be done better..
califonia maki - quite decent but not outstanding
ume onigiri - my favorite!! cos i luv ume & e ume here is very shiok! (but it's not for pple who can't take sour!)

service wise - good. after our meal, e server even asked us for feedback on e food & when paying e bill, e cashier even asked me if i have dbs card to enjoy a 15% discount, without me asking for any promo! (very unusual for me as e first thing i do after sitting down in a restaurant is to ask if there's any credit card promotion!! hahaha)

in total, we only spent $100.. =)

ieat said...

Talking about braised pork, I am so enamoured with this dish that I have been trying to cook it at home. 2nd try yesterday, almost there. Managed at last to get that Kong Bak taste! Now just to fine tune it. Will post recipe in the forum is anyone requests for it.

khim said...

btw, talking abt e braised pork, e gravy tasted exactly like e "hong shao zhu rou" china canned food lei!! i swear!!

bx tan said...

The gravy is very nice . I like this store a lot.


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