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Incredible Sushi at Tomo

Went last night for dinner (for the 5th time) and had a blast! The owner/head chef Steve hails from Nobu in Las Vegas and he and his staff crank out some amazing presentations. Fish is flown in from everywhere and is SO FRESH. They have a great specials board which always satisfies, but my favorites are the Toro (fatty tuna), the escolar, the sea urchin, and the quail egg shooters. If you know your sushi, ask for whatever you want and they'll put it in a roll for you, except they make it taste much better than you'd ever imagine. My favorite menu rolls are the Volcano (which is literally on fire when they serve it) and the Ex-Girlfriend.

Sushi aside, I am really really impressed with the way Steve runs his restaurant. He and his wife work very hard and are good people.
I've been to all of the sushi restaurants in Austin and really feel that this is the best place. Uchi is too pretentious for me; Tomo has a great interior but is small and comfortable. Tomo is closed Sundays and is located in North Austin, but it's worth the drive as well as the wait.

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  1. Is this place new? How do you think it compares to Uchi, Musashino, Mikado, Maru?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mersenne twister

      Tomo vs. Uchi--both are delicious, Uchi is pricier and is more of that "special occasion" type dinner..
      Tomo, in my opinion beats Musachino, never been to Maru..Mikado is excellent although not as delicious and high quality as Tomo.

    2. I agree, my boyfriend and I are regulars. It's comparable to Uchi in quality, but has less of the kitchen dishes Uchi does. Uchi also does more of the fusion thing with western ingredients like cranberry where Tomo is more straight-ahead Japanese (American) sushi.

      We were there Saturday and everything was amazing.

      Steve even does the Black Cod and Rock Shrimp Tempura off the Nobu menu. Soooo good.

      1. Tomo is pretty close to where I live, and I want to love it, but I have to report that the fish quality has been inconsistent. I do agree that the atmosphere is much better than other sushi places on this side of town and sometimes the fish can be great, but I've had a few instances of poor cuts (not sure which chef did it since I was seated at a table).

        That being said, I've also had very good sushi there, so I'm willing to give it another shot. Their sushi combos at lunch are some of the best values in town. For approx $12, you can get a whole rainbow roll, 5 (or 6?) pieces of sushi, and 3 pieces of a specialty roll along with miso soup.

        One other minor annoyance is their menu of specialty rolls. You're pretty much forced to ask what each one is since the descriptions are along the lines of "try it, you'll like it"/

        1. I was wondering if any of our more forthcoming brethren have tried this place yet ... you know who you are!

          Anyway, it really sounds terrific except for the one instance of inconsistency. I will try it this weekend!

          1. Where is Tomo? I've never heard of it. This has me really interested. Do they do lunch?

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodiegal71

              Tomo Sushi
              4101 W Parmer Ln Ste E
              Austin, TX 78727
              Phone: (512) 821-9472

              Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm, Sat 12pm-10pm

              I got this from a Google search... the reviews there were mostly postitive, as well.

              As you are, I am very interested!!!

              If you do have an opportunity to visit, I'll look forward to your post!

            2. Finally got to try this place tonight and I pretty much echo the OP's sentiments on the freshness and excellent taste of the fish. The "market" cuts are only about $1.50 more and add a nice variety to the standards. Spanish mackerel and Kampachi yellowtail are two that I had. Also had escolar, salmon, and sea bass that was so fresh you could almost faintly taste seawater.

              This place is definitely in my Tier 1 echelon of sushi joints in town. It is rather small though, so keep that in mind. Every seat was full in there on a Tuesday night.

              1. My wife and I finally made it over to Tomo tonight for dinner. There were several spots open at the sushi bar (7pm, Friday night) and we sat there. Our chef (named Tom) was friendly and helpful.

                The sushi was superb. We had uni, Tasmanian salmon, shad, sardine, toro, conger eel, escolar, and it was all excellent. I love uni, and theirs was an 8/10 (where 10 is the stuff in Tsukiji), which is still fantastic. We also had ankimo and while it wasn't the best I've ever had, it was certainly acceptably awesome. (I thought it was just a little on the overcooked side.)

                One of the nice things is that their rice is perfect. Not too clumped, not too loose. It's just enough to fall apart in my mouth and mix with the fish (even after being dabbed in soy sauce), but not so loose as to fall apart on its way to my mouth.

                We didn't try any of the specialty rolls; I like to stick to the basics and nigiri when first checking out a place. However, given our vantage point at the sushi bar, I definitely have an idea of ones that I'd like to try next time. And we will definitely be back. Musashino used to be my no-brainer place to go if I wanted good sushi. I haven't been there in a year or so, and I'm a little worried that they've gone downhill based on reviews I'm read here. I will not hesitate to go back to Tomo, though.

                1. Okay I did it...broke free from always returning to the same spot where the sushi is fantastic and consistent. This blob among others convinced me to try a new place and I was excited about it! And my experience in two words can be summed up as, utterly disappointed. If you are new to sushi and not sure it will be to your liking, I’ll admit this would probably be a good place to start. Many of the specialty rolls include tempura and sauces that won’t make the idea of eating raw fish too daunting. However, I enjoy a roll where the fish is the prize. There was so much going on in almost all the rolls I ordered. My boyfriend and I even asked the sushi chef for recommendations and the roll he offered was even more complex that what we tried. The best part of the experience was that Monday nights they offer Sapporo on draft for two dollars a pint. And I will admit one roll had a delightfully fresh slab of salmon on top. However, neither the price of the beer nor the salmon is enough to warrant another try. This also reaffirmed that Musashino is hands down the best sushi restaurant in town. My boyfriend and I absolutely gush about the meal every time we go. The wait can be horrendous but it is so worth it!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowinginaustin

                    Wait... you went to try out a new sushi restaurant and just got rolls?

                  2. Tried Tomo for lunch today. In a nutshell, Mikado is closer, just as good (if not better) and more reasonably priced.

                    I asked the sushi chef to make his favorite (so don't blame me for what I got) and for $14 I basically ended up with three seafood stuffed jalepenos. Thanks, but I'll stick with the yummies at Mikado.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: amysuehere

                      Based on the recs here my SO and I tried Tomo last Friday. I have to agree with Amysue, it was only okay. The one exception was the tuna we had that night as part of the rainbow roll, it was incredibly fresh and the texture was right on.

                      1. re: kirelerya

                        I had the Seafood Tempora Bento box last week. I really liked the breading on the Tempora, it was lightly done yet crispy with just a hint of pepper seasoning. The miso soup was OK, but nothing to write home about. I'm expecting and so am not eating sushi, but my work buddies seemed to enjoy their Philly rolls and a spicy roll (they are not adventurous people). Mikado always seems to take a while, but service here was very quick for a crowded Wed. lunch.

                    2. I tried Tomo for dinner last night. We wanted to sample things, so we ordered a sushi assortment, spicy tuna roll, and two fusion rolls (XxX and Ex-Girlfriend). I found the sushi to be quite good, the fish was fresh, and the rice was perfect (held together well, but wasn't a solid mass). The only detraction was the octopus, which was far, far too tough to be enjoyable and had to be removed from the rice ball to be eaten.

                      The spicy tuna roll was excellent. The tuna tasted fresh, it had just the right amount of spiciness, and it was not oozing with mayo.

                      None of us liked the fusion rolls. They tasted nice, but they had no discernible flavor other than fish, crunch, and sweet sauce. All of the rolls on the specialty menu seem to employ the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality. There are too many ingredients in each roll, and moreover, there are too many types of seafood smooshed together in each roll. I prefer a single fish to be the star of the roll and to have a few ingredients make it a unique experience.

                      1. I should call this post "Dear Musashino, I will never, ever cheat on you again." My husband and I went to Tomo this past Friday night and we were very disappointed. Due to some of the talk on this thread, we mostly stayed away from the rolls (we did get two, the Something Wrong and Negihama which were actually both pretty tasty) and stuck with nigiri and sashimi to get a true sampling of the fish. With the exception of the escolar which was outstanding - sweet, fresh, clean and slightly briny, the other pieces we ordered were sorely lacking in taste, freshness, and I have to say - some were even cut improperly with the grain, making chewing an issue.

                        My favorite piece is usually the yellowtail (hamachi). What it should look and taste like: off white to yellow/pink, glossy, firm, with a clean and buttery flavor that to me, is what sushi is all about. What it looked/tasted like at Tomo: grayish red, falling apart at the grain separations, no discernable flavor at all. The same lackluster to disappointing flavor can be said for the salmon as well - which was curious because the waitress said they had just got it in that day. We got a few nigiri pieces and an order of Nobu-style sashimi of salmon and although the Nobu style sashimi was interesting (served over a ponzu garlic sauce), the fish should be the star which it unfortunately wasn't. Also, I thought it was interesting that the negihama roll (yellowtail and scallions) seemed to have better tasting yellowtail than the sushi. Hmmm.

                        The low point was the mackerel - pieces come two to an order and my husband doesn't really like this piece so more for me - heh heh. Mackerel can be pretty fishy tasting when it isn't very fresh, and at Musashino it is always fresh. At Tomo, however, the second piece sat inedible. I told the waitress about it (it's one thing to have eh food, another to serve something just gross) and she apologized but did not offer to take it off the bill.

                        I won't go on about every single piece - I gave you the highs and lows. But overall, I've never had a bad experience for dinner at Musashino and wish we had stuck with them. We have two kids and no nearby grandparents, so when we go out for sushi it is a major financial commitment - the sushi itself and the babysitting - and not something we can afford to do very often. I feel absolutely cheated and resentful that one of our far too infrequent nights out alone turned out to be a waste of money.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Allison L.

                          Very sorry to hear about your experience. I empathize with your parenting situation.

                          You sound quite knowledgeable about sushi. In light of your review, I will avoid this place.

                        2. Had lunch there sat, aside from the fact their prices are too high, I was quite put off by the fact that when the server brought out my sushi he asked if I wanted to try some "fresh wasabi" I agreed and the noticed instead of going directly back to get it he entered it into the POS system and later returned with a tiny bowl of green stuff that I did'nt find very appealing and then when the check came there it was 2.50 charge for the green goo, I saw the same thing happen to the next table. Its not really the money, it just seems as though there trying to pump up ticket totals. Maybe I'll start charging 2.50 for an extra one ounce cup of marinara sauce for your Calimari at my restaurant.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: jdoyer

                            Perhaps it would've helped if they were more transparent about the upcharge, but fresh wasabi is expensive stuff, and I'm sure not everybody has an appreciation for it over powdered, so I guess they want prior consent before sending it out. Regardless, you should be aware of the extra cost prior to the transaction.

                            1. re: jdoyer

                              I agree they should make you aware there's an extra charge. As for the price, fresh wasabi paste costs over a dollar per ounce wholesale, before taking into account other costs like shipping and waste.

                              Most people don't understand that the wasabi they're used to seeing at restaurants and grocery stores isn't really wasabi at all. A restaurant that offers fresh wasabi would probably best be served by offering some education about it to their clientele.

                              1. re: ridgeback

                                Agreed - most people have never had real wasabi, and they don't even know it. I think that $2.50 is a real bargain for it. Doesn't Kenichi charge something like $6?

                                1. re: rudeboy

                                  And now that we're on the topic, where does one get some fresh wasabi for at-home zushi ? My green horseradish in a tube only gets touched about twice a year .....

                                  1. re: Nab


                                    it's where the restaurants get it too, according to one sushi chef/restaurant owner I've talked to.

                                    you can order it by the tube or rhizome, for which you'd need a grater.

                                2. re: ridgeback

                                  So is there fresh wasabi the real thing, or otherwise a good sample? I haven't had the real thing before and would like to try it.

                                  1. re: Mersenne twister

                                    Origami also offers fresh wasabi.

                                    As I understand it, the availability of fresh wasabi is a very recent development in the US. Japan was the only previous source but wouldn't allow export. A man in Oregon decided to hire some men from Japan who could help him set up a farm and learn the intricacies. The result is what you can order at freshwasabi.com

                                    The taste is much more subtle than "fake wasabi" - there's no burn from horseradish, for instance. Definitely worth the $2 to try it.