Tomo's on Rte 10 in East Hanover is permanently closed. His five year lease is up and he decided to retire. I spoke to Finn, and she is taking some time off and then looking for another job.
For those who followed Tomo from South Orange to Little Falls to East Hanover, it was a great run and it will be missed. Just last summer, Tomo's was rated the best sushi place in NJ.com.
I wish him well in his retirement. He was a true craftsman of the art of sushi. I had many dinners at his South Orange location when my wife was working late. I'd bring along a bottle of sake and order omakase (chef's choice) and he'd go to work, handing me one piece after another of the best of the day and I'd offer him a cup or two of sake now and then to get him to break a smile from his usual face fixated in concentration on cutting the next fish perfectly, leaving the unfinished bottle if he wanted it, but he always put my name on it and brought it out for my next visit. I'm sure he had a source for fresher sake, which diminishes in quality with age. And heat during its manufacturing process is important, too; high temps to be avoided, but they add to the shelf life. Most sakes should be consumed the year they were produced and preferably chilled, not heated.
When I did take-away from Tomo I'd get his Japanese curry, which I couldn't find anything that came near it in Japan. I've had Kobe beef in Kobe and would prefer Tomo's curry if given the choice again. He taught me Japanese dining etiquette (the word itadakimasu is said as a kind of thanks to everyone at the establishment when served food with a slight bow of the head, it's ok to eat sushi with your hands, don't dunk your sushi in soy sauce, a good sushi chef will add the wasabi if needed and it shouldn't be a condiment on the dish or table, etc.). His sushi was the best because he got the best catch at 3am at the Fulton fish market and he knew how to prepare it.
Soft spoken -- some may say aloof --, but if you were enough of a regular you'd get a greeting and he and Fin would remember your name and preferences. When I was visiting years after his move from South Orange he and Fin both recognized me and sent over a welcome dish of mackerel sashimi before I had a menu because he recalled I liked it. He'd never make California rolls or other fusion sushi and had a sign on the wall with the hilarious but strictly observed "Rules of Tomo." Borrowing from Seinfeld, he was South Orange's sushi Nazi.
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