Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bento Boxes @ Tomodachi

This isn’t so much a complete restaurant review as a rave about the great value lunch boxes and bento boxes at this cute little spot in the Broadway Shopping Centre at Ultimo.

The first good thing is that it’s at a food court but isn’t IN the food court. If it was a suburb, it would be called Food Court Heights. But that’s not to say it’s snooty. In Japanese ‘tomodachi’ means ‘friend’ and you can expect a warm welcome when you arrive and sit on neat little wooden benches or banquettes away from the plastic tablehood of Food Court Flats. From the brightly lit and red-decorated interior the staff hail you in loud unison with ‘Irrashaimase!’ or welcome, transporting you instantly to a Tokyo sushi bar.

There’s an active and frequently replenished sushi train and if you’re seated in the main restaurant rather than round the bar, you can still fetch little morsels to your table to keep you busy while you wait for your order. Not that you need to wait long, as the service is quick and snappy.

There are lots of options on the menu but if you’re up for a quick meal at low cost and want a selection of yummy things, go for the boxes – a smaller lunchbox of tempura, chicken or eel ($12), or a slightly larger Bento box ($18 - tempura bento top picture, chicken bento above) for a bigger appetite. All are served with rice and miso soup.

As we were unanimously hungry, Bento boxes seemed the most appropriate, plus a little extra treat of gyoza (picture left, serving of six) to share. The tempura box has prawns, fish and calamari with mixed vegetables, the teriyaki chicken a seasoned and grilled portion of sticky sweet and salty thigh meat. They both come with an array of jewel-box sections containing treasure troves of two sushi slices, three slices of salmon sashimi, a piquant dressed salad, agedashi tofu with its diaphanous bonito flakes adrift like clouds touching the top of a mountain (below), and a cleansing subdivision of mixed fruit, including pineapple, orange, and a variety of colourful melon. Apart from the main attraction, the accompanying dishes change a little depending on the season, but they're always plentiful and tasty.

Everything you need all delicately compartmentalised and ready to enjoy as you pick through the hierarchy of a Japanese meal. Or just go at it like a kamikaze if your famished brain prevents you from observing the rigors of correct flavour and texture progression.



Anonymous cherryripe said...

I love Tomodachi! It's such good value and oh-so-satisfying every time. Guaranteed to hit the umami spot.

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Tomodachi isn't bad. I did find the noodle soups there a tad dissapointing though. The sushi train though is reasonable and has enough variety to distinguish itself. I like the sushi train in Newtown better though but for as you say Food Court Heights, it is definitely a good neighbour.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Oh yes CR, the fifth taste! Very Japanese :)

I haven't tried the noodle soups yet Sue, but Tempura Udon is one of my favourites - I'll have to give it a go there!

8:29 AM  
Blogger neil said...

You made me use my dictionary, but what a lovely word, diaphanous. I'm stealing that.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous chocolatesuze said...

mmm i love tomodachi bento boxes! i usually go for the salmon bento and i think the menu has recently changed and now theres soft shell crab bento!

8:13 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Hi Taco - yeah it is a nice word - glad you like it :)

I haven't tried the salmon, chocolatesuze, and the crab sounds great!

8:11 AM  

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