Review: Tombo Japanese Café & Matcha Bar Fitzrovia
Charlotte Street is home to some of the finest eateries in London, which means you have to fight for a table or book months in advance. But there’s also the small Japanese café here, Tombo, serving up delicious, fresh and authentic food. Katherine Brook reveals her experience.
Think fresh poké, warming bowls of ramen and a whole range of different matcha-infused sweets and drinks. Although it’s usually very busy, the service is fast and turnover is quick, so you don’t have to wait long to be seated.
For those visiting Tombo between November 2019 and February 2020, the café has just launched a four-month Sanrio pop-up experience, featuring Hello Kitty and friends, to coincide with Hello Kitty’s 45th Anniversary. The inside has been transformed into a winter wonderland theme, with colourful flowers and lights hanging from the ceiling. The collaboration with Sanrio has also seen the European café add some Hello Kitty-inspired dishes to the menu, with brunch offerings and all-day temptations.
Seated under the twinkling canopy, we chose two main dishes and two sides from the menu. The Hello Kitty garden poké (£13.95), paitan ramen with chicken (£11.50), steamed prawn dumplings (£3.70) and teriyaki chicken (£5.95). In the poké bowl was a mix of courgette, brown and white sushi rice and salmon sashimi, decorated with Hello Kitty-shaped vegetables and edible flowers – it was almost too pretty to eat. The traditional chicken ramen had a lovely, rich umami broth, with charred paprika corn, bamboo shoots and shredded chicken thigh. My favourite was the steamed prawn dumplings, so soft and fluffy with generous chunks of prawn inside.
Japanese classics like miso soup (£2.20), edamame (£2.65) and chicken or pumpkin katsu (£5-£6) are also available. The badtz-maru ramen (£16.50) was a very popular dish: noodles swimming in a black sesame seafood broth, topped with the unusual addition of black pudding, offered a nice twist to the classic.
We enjoyed our meal with a glass of Prosecco (£8.50 for a 200ml bottle) and Asahi beer (£4).
To finish, we shared a matcha sundae (£6), soft-serve matcha ice cream, topped with matcha brownie, mini mochi, monaka, azuki, granola and date syrup. Unfortunately, they had run out of the vegan matcha cheesecake, (£4.90), which it seems people descend from all over London to try. Highlights from the Hello Kitty dessert menu include the Hello Kitty doughnut (£3.95), Kerrpoi’s Pond (£5.95) – a matcha tiramisu with Oreo crumbs – and the Sanrio milkshake (£7.50). It was clear just from looking around the restaurant that this was a place people come specifically for dessert, nevermind the poké!
Hello Kitty 45th anniversary menu available to Feb 2020
4 Windmill St, W1T 2HZ
Mon-Thur 11.30am-9.30pm; Fri-Sat 10am-9.30pm; Sun 10am-8pm
020-3205 0001 | www.tombocafe.com
Times and prices correct at time of publishing