Attention, London foodies.
Tea specialists, Tombo, have just launched a new cafe in Soho and it’s all set to feed our current obsession for poké and all things matcha…
Always keen to be the first on the scene, my good friend Lemma and I headed over to get our fix just a day into its soft launch, arriving to find the tiny but bright cafe absolutely bustling with in-the-know Londoners looking for the same!
I’ve been drooling over all the matcha-marvellous pictures tagged at Tombo’s original South-Ken outpost, for quite some time now. While I recently discovered a passion for poké at Eat Poke London’s pop-up at Selfridges and more recently over dinner at Black Roe Poké Bar and Grill.
Luckily for me, Lems was in the mood to indulge too – so between us we were ready to try *as much* as we possibly could from the rather tempting menu…
… Starting with the vibrant Hawaiian dish currently taking London by storm.
For the unfamiliar, poké (pronounced poh-kay) is a bit like a deconstructed sushi or ceviche bowl involving marinated raw fish, as well as a medley of other punchy and oh-so-wholesome ingredients.
Tombo’s menu includes the classics such as salmon or tuna poké, alongside other exciting variations and a build-your-own option. We loved that all poké bowls offer the flexibility to choose courgette noodles as a leaner base (instead of the usual black or white rice), as by doing so, we deftly balanced out the carb-heavy indulgence which followed!
Lemma went with a “Salmon Avo Lux” featuring pingingly fresh salmon and salmon caviar, edamame, avocado and crisp nori (edible seaweed strips) mixed together in a wasabi soy dressing.
My veggie version delivered flavour in versatile spades too, despite the deceptively simple elements of tofu, avocado, chia seeds and nori. The trick might very well have been in the umami-rich matcha miso dressing!
We ordered a matcha-lemonade to help wash it down – sadly a regrettable choice though, as the lemonade was really just a Sprite (or generic equivalent), with only the feeblest hint of matcha.
It was a similar story with the matcha macarons and Tombo’s take on an Oreo-matcha cookie. The bittersweet richness which is distinct of pure matcha, was entirely overwhelmed by the cloying – almost sickly – sweetness of the desserts.
We fared better with Tombo’s delicate floral-tinged sakura tea… but the real highlight was the cinnamon matcha latte. It struck a great balance of earthy yet subtly-sweet flavours, which would appeal to both matcha-fiends and beginners alike. Not to mention, it made a perfect matcha with the brownie, which was scrumptiously fudgy and had a subtle but moreish touch of white chocolate!
Of course, what this ice cream fiend had really come for, was the matcha sundae… and Oh My Bittersweet Matcha, I wasn’t disappointed.
The smooth matcha soft serve was generously layered with chunks of the (utterly addictive) matcha brownie and red bean paste, while a granola-like mix at the bottom provided a nutty and crunchy texture…
Although the overall result wasn’t perhaps as authentic as the matcha sundae you’ll find at Tsujiri‘s cafe a few streets down (think oodles of intensely rich matcha ice cream piled with red beans, toasted brown rice puffs, chestnuts and traditional Japanese mochi), there’s no denying that Tombo’s rendition was quite unique too… and will no doubt have me revisiting time and again this summer.
And if not for the full works, then even just for a deliciously healthy poké bowl followed by a soft serve to go.
It’s all about life’s simple pleasures after all.
Tombo Poké and Matcha Bar, 28 D’Arblay St, W1F 8EW