Tomo: Ottawa’s most beautiful sushi bar

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Named after the Japanese word for friends, restaurant Tomo is one of the top spots in Ottawa’s food community. This spot is best known for its focus on freshness, style and celebration of pan-Asian cuisine. Tomo is truly a glistening gem in the Byward Market’s blossoming restaurant scene.

The restaurant opened over three and a half years ago, expanding on the space that was previously Ottawa’s beloved Wontonmama. Owners Marc and Nara had a clear vision for what Tomo was to become. Inspired partly by Wontonmama’s legacy, they desired to create a destination that was welcoming and ultra-chic. Friendship is written into the name Tomo. For this reason, the space fosters community and comfort yet remains one of the city’s most Instagramable eateries. Nara explains how their desire to create a venue for celebration pushed them to go the extra mile throughout the development process.

While they’re known for being amongst the best sushi kitchens in Ottawa, the menu reflects the diversity of pan-Asian flavours. Whether you’re a fan of sushi, Poke, fried rice or Tataki, you will find something to love on the Tomo menu. Ken (executive chef), runs the kitchen with the philosophy that fresh is always best. Everything from the Pad Thai noodles to the soy sauce and mayonnaise is made in house. The diverse menu develops annually but stays true to the longstanding fan-favourites. The key to success for the Tomo kitchen is simplicity and consistency, so diners can depend on a standard of high quality homemade food.

Nara says his favourite dish is the refreshing and filling Tomo Slaw. It is rare to find a similar dish made entirely with components developed in-house. Other menu highlights include the Sesame Crusted Tuna and the Tomo Steak Teriyaki. The house wine list is also curated by Chef Ken, and perfectly complements the menu.

Whether you come to Tomo to feast on fresh and creative pan-Asian food, or to snap a picture in the infamous selfie-bathroom, you will leave feeling satisfied. Every inch of the 120 seat space has been splashed with Tomo’s eccentric and artistic style. The space was designed in collaboration with the Iron and Ivory design firm (the team is also responsible for the stunning Queen St. Fare, Pure Kitchen and Fairouz). With strong Japanese influence, you’ll be eating amidst bold murals of traditional Geishas, soft wooden accents and beautifully designed lighting. Captivating and powerful artwork lines the walls, curtesy of the local art duo Dems and Dolls. 

One of the highlights of the restaurants space is their washrooms-  best known as one of Ottawa’s best instagram backdrops. Nara recognized the importance of community support and social media recognition early on. The team knew they wanted to create the most photogenic space possible. The washrooms specifically are inspired by the big, bold and colourful flare of Japanese pop culture. Anime murals, loud colours and happy vibes were all realized with the help of the Dems and Dolls duo.

Saving the best for last: at night, Tomo magically transforms into a hot-spot drinking hole! The nightclub/bar serves playful cocktails to the beat of great music. Tomo is home to one of the largest Sake collections in all of Ottawa. They even serve some cocktails in fresh coconuts! Having the best of both worlds is what Nara loves most about Tomo. It is a comfortable place to enjoy a meal with the family or celebrate with friends, all while basking in artistic surroundings, delicious food and festive drinks.

Photography by Tomo

From the magazine

Restaurants open on Tuesdays

Finding a restaurant open on Tuesdays is becoming challenging. Some restaurants choose to take a break at the beginning of the week.