Where to Eat in London: Tombo Japanese Cafè

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Tombo | Casual Japanese Dining | South Kensington | Website

– reservations not available –

If you had told me a few weeks ago that there was a small slice of matcha heaven at the other end of the Piccadilly line I would have laughed in your face. That was until I learnt of Tombo, a casual Japanese dining experience with a strong emphasis on tea.
V.A and I headed to South Kensington on a Saturday afternoon around 2pm. We found the restaurant pretty easily as it’s only a minute walk from the tube station, and is right next door to Exhibition road.  It was quite busy inside, but we were sat straight away – it seemed that we had timed our arrival perfectly. I surprised myself by instinctively replying to our server in Japanese as we were sat. I guess that means I haven’t completely forgotten it.I had already decided prior to our visit what I would be having – the Bonsai tea (genmaicha with matcha) and a Miso Salmon Bento. When our tea arrived it was presented in a traditional Japanese lidless pot and cup, with a thermos of hot water for top-ups. The smell of the tea wafted over us, and I was automatically relaxed. Green tea can be a little bitter for some people, but I find the flavours distinct and refreshing. Our food took took a little while to arrive, but it meant we were able to enjoy our tea properly. When it did arrive my bento came with a large portion of miso salmon, rice and a variety of salads. Japanese salads are my favourite – they’re full of flavour and offer much more in terms of nourishment than their British counterparts. So you can imagine how happy I was when I spotted 4 on my plate. Each one containing a variety of vegetables, some marinated with sauce, others pickled, but all containing authentic Japanese ingredients. This is what I’d been missing since my move back from Tokyo.

We probably spent a good hour eating and chatting, and it was lovely to be offered that luxury and not rushed out of the establishment – as some London restaurants tend to do. The best thing about Japanese food, apart from the taste, is that you can eat a good meal and not feel bloated or stuffed. Of course that meant we had room for pudding too – the matcha sundae I had been waiting for all week long! Tombo’s desserts are one of the main reasons behind their popularity, so I had high expectations. My matcha sundae included matcha ice cream, matcha gateau, azuki paste and oats. My verdict? Absolute heaven! Although really it was the small bites of matcha cake that won me over. They were moist and soft with a potent taste of matcha. I will definitely be ordering the matcha gateau next time!

At the end our bill came to only £23 each! Lovers of Japanese food in London will know this is ridiculously affordable. Will I be back? You couldn’t stop me if you tried!

You can read more of my restaurant reviews on Zomato.