Tatoyaki at Tomo
The Tomo Restaurant is an Asian fusion restaurant in the Byward market section of Ottawa. It is a nightspot as well as a restaurant, but I stopped by during the daytime for the sole purpose of trying their Tatoyaki.
For those unfamiliar, Takoyaki is a Japanese snack made of batter filled with diced Octopus and cooked in a special molded pan, and, on the menu at Tomo (which has changed since), it was described as ‘Battered octopus balls topped with house dressing, scallion and shaved bonito flakes’. Essentially, that is exactly what I got, but the execution, I am sorry to say, wasn’t all that good…
The house dressing in this case turned out to be twin drizzles of Japanese Mayo and Eel Sauce, both of which complimented each other and the balls very nicely, while the Bonito flakes were clearly very fresh and added a nice touch of smokiness to the whole.
The balls themselves, however, were not especially well made.
In the first place, the octopus was chopped way too finely rather than being one or more large chunks and it really wasn’t possible to taste whether one was eating octopus, shrimp, or even fish of some sort. Also, although the batter was nice and crisply golden on the outside, it was not well done near the middle and left a raw batter taste in my mouth.
Well, the presentation here was pretty nicely done, I thought, and the choice and deployment of the sauces very good overall, but the substance of the dish, its whole raison d’être, as it were, was disappointing. The filling in Tatoyaki is often rounded out with other things, like scallion, or even tempura batter ‘bits’ (which is fine), but if the octopus is too finely chopped or minced, it loses something.
Tatoyaki is about the Octopus, in my mind. Personally, I like nice, hearty chunk, or at least good-sized pieces if the meat is diced. Ultimately, if I can’t taste Octopus… it ain’t proper Tatoyaki.