I’ve been known to rave about restaurants that I think are fabulous, but my husband is not one to go on and on about food, unless of course it’s China Gate or Blimpy Burger. He had a surprisingly satisfying experience one afternoon with coworkers at Tomukun Noodle Bar, and brought it up at least 2 or 3 times afterwards. If my guy’s happy, I need to further investigate.
Because Tomukun is located at 505 E. Liberty Street, on campus, I believed it to be a place-your-order-at-the-counter type restaurant, which is perfectly fine for a lunch on the run, but I didn’t realize Tomukun is actually a much nicer dining experience. Slickly decorated, enhanced with smooth chestnut-colored wood, the restaurant includes a sexy bar area hosting a frighteningly better TV than some other “sports bars” in the area. Tomukun’s mood lighting and modern asian flair had me at hello. It had the hubby at hello when he was able to perch himself in perfect sight of an Elite 8 game. Bye, bye Ohio State! 🙂 I do recommend viewing the website, not only for before and after pictures of the restaurant, but for food porn galore. I promise you’ll start choosing menu items before you even arrive.
Because of that, we both showed up knowing mostly what we wanted. The many variations of pho, ramen, udon, and rice bowls made for a hard choice. I’d easily go back and try at least 3-4 other menu items. I went with the spicy seafood ramen, my date went with the dish he’d been obsessing over for a week, creamy pork ramen, and we split an order of the Tomukun pork buns.
My first pork buns ever were a flavor burst of delish. There were two on the plate, (we easily could have had one more each!) with pearl-colored steamed buns, roasted pork belly covered in a sweet and savory asian glaze, and pickled vegetables. The pork was good- mine was a tad on the chewy side, but the glaze was so delicious, not too sweet, with a slight kick. The pickled vegetables were the perfect acidic balance to the glaze. They were gone all too quickly.
My spicy seafood ramen was exactly what it said. SPICE-Y! I love spice, but that first slurp actually took me by surprise, hit the back of my throat, and I proceeded with an embarrassing coughing fit for the next 10 minutes. I learned my lesson. The giant bowl was filled with the potent broth that did get easier on the palate with time, and chock full of seafood including shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid, and shredded crab stick. The shrimp were baby shrimp, and the scallops were bay, but both still enjoyable. I appreciated the mussels without the hassle of pulling them out of their shells. The squid was, unfortunately, a mix of chewy bodies and the much tougher “outskirts”, for lack of a better word. I’m sure there is a better word, but I don’t know what it is. I’m no squid expert. Either way, I found those parts to be inedible. Would I order this dish again? Definitely.
My husband’s creamy pork ramen was much better than the title would suggest. I imagined a creepy bowl of thick, creamy, Alfredo-like business but it couldn’t have been further from that description. Pan fried pork and vegetables were steeped in a light, coconut curry broth, topped with spicy ground pork. It seemed to be the same spicy sauce that helped make my spicy seafood broth. Let me tell you, it was delightful. The samples I stole were a refreshing break from my own firey ramen, very light and flavorful. The pork seemed to melt in your mouth. I’m pretty sure he’d order it again, as well.
There were only two teeny disappointments during our eating adventure, one, that our pork buns didn’t come out until they brought our entrees. We were pretty hungry, which is why the wait was so noticeable. Also, as the night went on, the club/dance/rap grew louder and louder, which honestly I didn’t really mind, (because if I did, how elderly would that sound?), but it left us wondering if there might be a “Club Tomukun” that we weren’t informed of, pushing out the dinner crowd. The rest of the meal was swell.
A few tips, when eating at Tomukun:
- Do not show up without a hair tie, ladies (or gentlemen with rock star hair). It will get in your food, and it will bother you the entire time.
- Do NOT slurp your soup with breathtaking excitement because a) it’s steaming hot and b) it may send you into a coughing fit.
- Don’t feel bad about using 11 napkins. They are small.
- Don’t wear white, for God’s sake.
+ Intriguing, but not too overwhelming menu. Great modern-upscale atmosphere. Nice bar with huge TV. Won’t break the bank! Even my ramen with all the seafood was only $13. Nice!
– Not a giant place so call for reservations (didn’t try-assuming they take them). They have wine, beer, and sake but I didn’t see any liquor. Bring your dancing shoes for the after-meal clubbing. Just kidding.