I don’t know about you, but with the summer we’re having, my thoughts turn to light, healthy lunches in cool places. Something salad-focused with a bit of a difference to tempt a summer appetite. Well, I’ve found just the place. It’s in South Kensington, just around the corner from the V&A, but off the tourist track so it’s quiet and relaxed. It’s called Tombo and it serves healthy Japanese food.
I first went to Tombo a while back when some Japanese friends who’d come over to visit Glastonbury (power stones are very big in Japan) held their end-of-tour party there. I’ve been meaning to go again for some time, and this week I finally got there.
Ordering is simple – everything is on display at the counter and there are sample dishes to look at. You choose your meal, pay and sit down and then they bring it to you when it’s ready.
I was tempted by the curry rice, and the daily noodles.
They do a fabulous selection of summery temaki sushi (which is hand rolled, giving it a characteristic cone shape) and California rolls. The rice is multigrain rice – white rice with millet, quinoa, amaranth and sesame seed.
But I ended up having the daily bento, where you can choose your own main dish and salads. I opted for salmon with hijiki salad.
Hijiki is the black stuff in the picture; it’s a kind of seaweed and is rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium.
For the cake fans among you, they do a range of cakes with a Japanese flavour, including green tea tart and aduki bean chocolate cake.
They also have dorayaki, small pancakes sandwiched together with red bean paste, and daifuku, which are mochi (soft rice cakes) filled with bean paste.
The ambiance is relaxing and a little bit kawaii with cat teapots on the shelves.
For the tea fans among you there is a selection of teas including Japanese green tea from Shizuoka which is renowned for producing the best tea in Japan. They do iced teas too; matcha latte, or hojicha (roasted tea) latte. They also have a range of Japanese beers and sakes.
Tombo is quite small with a couple of little tables outside, but I would recommend sitting in the cool white room beyond the serving counter.
I loved it; it was peaceful and the food was delicious. The only problem was choosing what to have among so many tempting dishes. Oh well, I’ll just have to go back and try the others.
Tombo is in Thurloe Place, just around the corner from South Kensington Tube station. It’s open Sunday to Thursday: 11.30 am to 8 pm, Friday to Saturday: 11.30 am to 9 pm and on the last Friday of every month open it stays open until 10 pm.