One doesn’t have to sail the Seven Seas to find this hidden treasure.
Beginning at GCC, it’s a short voyage from the 134 West to the 5 North to get to Tomo Sushi in downtown Burbank.
Walking into the restaurant, through the beaded curtain entrance, the guests are greeted by the host’s traditional “Irasshaimase,” which means, “Please come in.”
Although the restaurant has a hole-in-the-wall appearance, it is a unique atmosphere. The walls of the restaurant are draped with thousands of dollar bills, per satisfied customers, who have thanked the restaurant for its meals. Tables and chairs surround the room and the sushi bar is located in the top left corner.
Once a customer is seated at the bar, the host brings a wooden plate with wasabi, ginger and a separate shoyu dish of soy sauce.
The itamae (a skilled sushi chef) and the owner of the restaurant, whom the public refers to as Tom, chops and rolls away diligently on his sushi creations.
After ordering sushi and placing the order on a thin piece of paper, marking it with a pencil, the itamae unexpectedly places two pieces of sushi on the dish and says, “It’s on the house.”
The itamae serves spicy tuna, deep fried with crab meat on top and a drizzle of sweet eel sauce.
This type of sushi is more properly known as maki-zushi, rice and seaweed rolls with fish and/or vegetables. It can be prepared either futomaki (thick roll) or hosomaki (thin roll).
The sushi chef then serves the spicy tuna roll, tempura roll, crunch roll and lastly, the one more night stand roll.
Chuckling at the name of the roll, the itamae goes on to explain the story behind it. Laughing, he describes that the customers who were so fond of the previous roll, the one-night-stand roll, begged for “one more,” so the chef has been preparing it ever since the first order.
The one-more-night-stand roll is a deliciously cut roll, containing shrimp tempura, calamari, spicy tuna, crab meat and silky white seaweed.
On a side note, it is difficult to eat the sushi with chopsticks, without it falling apart. Traditional nigiri style sushi is supposed to be eaten in one bite, however, this is not always easy (or possible) in North America where some restaurants serve huge pieces. Despite the trouble, it’s safe to try one’s best at eating each piece whole.
After finishing the meal, it is polite to thank the itamae if one is seated at the sushi bar. If one is brave enough and wants to try Japanese, one may say, “domo arigato,” a courteous Japanese expression for “thank you.”
Tomo Sushi’s (“tomo” meaning “friend” in Japanese) menu presents a wide range of Japanese cuisine, ranging from udon noodles to chicken katsu to miso soup to green tea ice cream.
However, it is more well-known for its variety of deep sea delights, also known as sashimi, such as tuna, yellow tail, whitefish, salmon, mackerel, shrimp, king crab, octopus, clam, eel and more.
The sushi portion of the menu offers the same choices of fish along with sea urchin, salmon eggs, smelt eggs, monkfish liver and even quail egg sushi. Special rolls can be prepared as well, including the California, Rainbow, baked scallop, Dragon, Philadelphia, or Spider roll, to name a few classic favorites.
Tomo Sushi also serves lunch specials including beef teriyaki, chicken katsu and vegetable tempura, served with a side salad and steamed rice. Don’t hesitate to stroll in around noon.
Although the restaurant is positioned in the busiest part of Burbank, it is worth the terrible parking search, however, unlike Glendale, the entire city has free parking. The sushi is mouth-watering and both the chef and the single hostess are personable and on top of everything.
Tomo Sushi, unlike the many other Japanese sushi bars, is not a chain restaurant. The ambiance as well as the service is very family oriented. The service is personable and the itamae will ask what are your favorite movies showing at the local AMC 16 theater.
Tomo Sushi has proven that it’s possible to eat one’s body weight in sushi.
Sushi prices are reasonable. Regular sushi rolls range from $4.25 to 6.75. Sashimi ranges from $5.50 to 10.95. Hand rolls and cut rolls range from $3.95 to 16.94, depending on the type of fish.
It is located on 144 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank. For more information, call (818) 729-0808 or visit www.tomosushiburbank.com.