Toyotomi Japanese Restaurant

by Ed Lau on May 22, 2010

As I left Pho Lan after lunch about a week ago, I noticed a new Japanese restaurant had opened up across the street. A quick peek at the menu showed some…well, great value. $3.99 for breakfast? $5.99 for lunch? Interesting. Therefore, I decided to head back later in the week to check out Toyotomi for lunch.

Toyotomi is located at 110 – 8111 Anderson Road in Richmond. It’s across a street from our former Dot Com Pho stomping grounds of Pho Lan but really, if you didn’t know it was there, chances are you wouldn’t really stumble on it. As expected from a new restaurant, everything is clean and bright. The restaurant space seems quite large with plenty of tables and booths, most of which are unoccupied since I’m guessing not too many people know about this place yet.

The staff were all very friendly from the moment I stepped in the door. However, only one or two of the waitresses spoke an acceptable conversational level of English but it seemed they all spoke Cantonese well so despite being a Japanese restaurant, it’s Chinese operated…much like the rest of Richmond. Also like the rest of Richmond, they only take cash.

Is it just me or are these tea cups really cool? I enjoyed the stainless cups but I’m not a big fan of the metal chopsticks or other dishes. Metal bowls make me think that either my food isn’t finished yet (since metal bowls are usually used for preparation) or I’m in some sort of prison or loony bin. At least the chopsticks aren’t those obnoxious flat metal ones you find at most Korean places…I hate those since I can never hold them properly.

The menu was a bit confusing when I first looked at it. I know it says 2 side dishes at the top but you don’t actually choose from the side dishes on the menu. The side dishes that come with the meal are just selected for you. The additional side dishes that you can order add to the cost of the meal. I ordered a curry tonkatsu (pork cutlet) don and added a spicy salmon sushi and a miso soup.

I love miso soup…I could probably put away a whole pot of this stuff. I must figure out how to make it properly one of these days. The miso soup is rather small but full of green onion and tofu…and it’s only $0.25.

This is the spicy salmon sushi. I’ve never quite seen a roll where all the ingredients are just on top of a plain rice roll. It’s not really nigiri and it’s not maki either. The salmon is nice and fresh although the sauce lacks in the spiciness department. This was an extra $2.00 and was quite tasty.

This curry tonkatsu don was a bit different than I was expecting. Usually, it just comes in one bowl with the cutlet on top of the rice, cooked with some egg and with the curry on top. Instead, I got a bowl of rice and then a pork cutlet on top of some cabbage, covered with curry.

The tonkatsu was delicious and this way of serving ensured that the breading stayed crisp. I do, however, wish they gave me more sauteed onions rather than the enormous chunks of ginger. I hate the taste of ginger…which is a bit usual for anyone used to Asian cooking but I just can’t stand it. The rice was average at best and I found a few chunks of well undercooked rice near the bottom of my bowl.

The two side dishes that came with my meal were a sort of Japanese pickle (I believe these are shibazuke) and a tuna with gomae spinach. I’m not a big fan of these sorts of pickles. I like the yellow daikon ones or other various variations but these aren’t my favorite. They do go well with tonkatsu though…giving everything a nice sour element. The tuna gomae had some tuna ends in it that were pretty good but I would actually rather just have a regular spinach gomae. Not bad but not great.

If I didn’t add anything, my bill would’ve been a very reasonable $6 plus tax and tip. There certainly would’ve been enough there for lunch but since I knew I would be blogging about it, I had to add something else as well. Oh, if you intend on ordering a second bowl of miso soup, it will cost you $1 rather than $0.25 since you can only add three side dishes to your lunch. Not a big deal, really but adding a stuff to your $6 lunch piles up quickly.

Overall, I enjoyed myself at Toyotomi. There’s no loud, obnoxious music, the booths are comfortable and the staff are friendly and helpful even if they don’t speak English as well as you’d expect. I had my iPad out to read for lunch and nearly every staff member in the place came by to play with it. One lady in particular was perplexed as to what exactly it was until I explained “It’s like an iPhone…but bigger…and not a phone.”

Anyways, if you’re in the neighborhood looking for a good lunch at a very decent price, check Toyotomi out.

Toyotomi on Urbanspoon

in Food and Fine Dining

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marquelle May 24, 2010 at 12:10 am

Maybe they like the metal bowls because they won’t break if they were dropped?

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Komodo Dragon May 25, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Great review of this place, really shocked at the price for the soup, and for the $1.00 I wouldn’t mind paying for the extra soup. I wonder how much business they lose by not accepting credit card.

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Grace Cheung May 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

I love your last quote – it explains why I want an ipad…can you tweet it so I can retweet please?

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