1-7-2 7otsuya Shinjuku-ku
Aevrage check for two:10,000
My friend Mohan is an Indian-Malaysian treacherman of major proportions
and his praise ( I took him to the Indian restaurant, Moti ) is high recommendation
indeed. He liked Maharaja and Raj Mahal too, but begin to wonder if all
Japanese Indian food hewed to the Mogul line -- " Tandoori, sag, nan,
are they only having all those northern curries, la? " Afraid so,
I said , not knowing of much else. Now I do. Next time he visits Tokyo
we're going to Tomoca.
Nominally Sri Lankan, Tomoca couldn't be more unlike our other Indic
restaurants. It couldn't be easier. You walk in, sit down, make one chice
-- fish, shrimp, mutton, beef or liver -- and prepare to pay one proce
, a flat \4,200. Then bowls of food begin to arrive. Some crisp papadam
chips. A spicy stew of lentils. Shredded coconut with chilles and perhaps
a touch of fermented shrimp. A mild jackfruit curry. A fiery, thoroughly
inspirational sambal of tiny Jako fish and onions. A cooling mix of minced cucumbers and herbs. Fried eggplants
steeped in cloves. And whatever meat or fish you picked, done up in a rich
You sat it with a rice flour pancake and, when that run out, heaps
of rice, You irrigate it with a Loin Lager or a deeper, English-style Royal
Pilisner -- beers as confident as one might expect from an island under
Europian rule for 450 years. And when you're done they bring a beaker of
hot milk and a pot of Ceyloneese tea -- the good, fragrant stuff that defines
what tea people mean when they talk about a " liquoring " brew.
And about this time, with any luck, you may find yourself up on a cloud
somewhere high over the isle of Serendip.
The charm of Tomoca lies in the newness of its flavors, even to the
veteran of the occasional one-night Colombo stopover or Earls Court Sri
Lankan joint. Where else in Japanese can one sample jaggaery, the Ceylonese
fudge make from kitul palm sap? Or try the arrack of the State Distilleries
of Sri Lanka ( granted that the experience has more in common with glue-sniffing
than brandy snifters ) ?
Fugitives from the 60s will feel right at home amid the batik bedspreads
and potted palms and droning subcontinental music. It's the sort of place
where you keep smelling incense, then notice they don't have any.
With just four tables it fills quickly, but other times can be empty.
Perched atop a dirty staircase on one of Tokyo's most restaurant-intensive
streets. Tomoca dosen't exactly look poised to repeat Moti's mega-success.
Judging by the low-key stuff and clientele, that's just the way they want
to keep it.
1992 Feb/Tokyo Journal