• tomo sushi in burbank: damn good vegan dining

    June 8th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, tomo sushi

    los angeles vegans know this very well: edible sushi usually consists of a stale avocado roll, some slices of cucumber, and if you are lucky, maybe some deep fried tempura vegetables. well that’s just not the case at tomo sushi. located in burbank, tomo sushi is your typical hole-in-the-wall sushi establishment with its cute bar, authentic menu, friendly staff, and canadian-brewed japanese bottled beer. except tomo sushi does one thing different: they offer an entirely vegan sushi selection in addition to the fish-filled standards. and i’m not talking just any old ‘boring’ vegan selection, tomo boasts over 20 entirely animal-free sushi rolls filled with vegetables, tofu, potatoes, and more vegetables that i can’t pronounce.

    i hit up tomo sushi last night with my husband, and while ordering our carefully selected vegetarian rolls, we let our server know we were vegan. i think he took this info as a challenge, and insisted that he bring out some ‘chef specials’. we complied and ended up with a most amazing selection of vegan sushi. tomo pulled no stops when they presented us with the fresh garlic rolls, japanese mountain potato sushi, japanese mushrooms and chile tempura.

    garlic rolls, japanese mountain potato, japanese mushroom and chile tempura.

    garlic rolls, japanese mountain potato, japanese mushroom and chile tempura.

    every bite of the above was like a flavor explosion in the mouth. i don’t even think this stuff is on the menu, but it was the highlight of our meal. seriously, if you ever dine at tomo, please ask the chef to make you something vegan and special. i’m not sure how much it cost, but whatever the price tag was, it was well worth it.

    cold tofu: served with ginger and green onions. $5.25

    cold tofu: served with ginger and green onions. $5.25

    as an appetizer, we shared the cold tofu which was basically four large blocks of silken tofu topped with chilled sliced tomatoes. when it arrived at the table i thought it looked kinda boring, but when i tasted it i realized i’d forgotten how damn good simple tofu can be. this stuff was top notch, and dipped in copious amounts of wasabi and soy sauce, it tasted incredible.

    kimchi roll. $7.50

    kimchi roll. $7.50

    we also split a kimchi roll, which was pickled cabbage all rolled up in nori and rice. i’ve never had kimchi sushi before…it was mushy, sour, and really flavorful. definitely worth a try. next we shared a caterpillar roll, which consisted of mushroom, squash, carrot, asparagus, and pickled greens rolled in rice topped with sliced avocado. the vegetables in this thing were absolutely amazing and the cool creamy avocado added to both the taste and presentation. i was a huge fan of the vegetarian caterpillar roll, tomo took a traditional sushi dish usually made with eel and created an absolutely delicious cruelty-free version. order this if you are in the mood for something decadent.

    vegetarian caterpillar roll. $10.50

    vegetarian caterpillar roll. $10.50

    we also ordered the fried tofu roll—lightly fried tofu wrapped up with asparagus and scallions. this was the only one of our rolls with warm and cold ingredients, and it made for a pretty interesting taste sensation. the tofu was fried just perfectly, not too much, but enough to be crispy. i would definitely order this sucker again.

    fried tofu roll. $7.50

    fried tofu roll. $7.50

    once again proving that tomo loves vegans, at the end of our meal, our server brought us a complimentary plate of vegetables prepared by the chef. the dish consisted of cucumber slices topped with beet pate and thinly sliced shreds of japanese mountain potato. all of it was fatastic…seriously, never underestimate the deliciousness of simple ingredients when artfully prepared.

    cucumber with beet pate and japanese mountain potato skins. FREE

    cucumber with beet pate and japanese mountain potato skins. FREE

    other than shojin, the entirely vegan japanese restaurant in downtown, i’d say tomo is definitely the most vegan-friendly place to get sushi in los angeles. i know i will be back to try more of their creations such as the oshinko, mountain vegetable, & fotomaki rolls, and hopefully try some more specially-made vegan sushi from the chef. the staff is super friendly, the food is good, and the atmosphere is chill. a+!


    as far as the decor goes, i guess tomo couldn’t decide what color to paint their walls, so they took $1 bills from customers hung up all over the restaurant. cuuuuuuute. most of the money has doodles or a message written on it in brightly-colored ink. i love it. i was gonna add to the wall, but i’m too damn cheap to give up a dollar.


    in closing, my only gripe about tomo is, the bill can add up very quickly. the food pictured above plus two rounds of drinks ended up setting us back over 70 bucks. for stuff that leaves you feeling hungry a few hours later, that’s pretty damn pricey. oh well, i guess sushi in general is just really expensive, and this stuff was damn good so we didn’t mind paying. if you are on the hunt for some fish-free sushi that consists of more than chopped cucumber and avocado rolls, tomo is definitely your place.


    tomo sushi
    144 N San Fernando Blvd
    Burbank, CA 91502
    (818) 729-0808

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13 responses to “tomo sushi in burbank: damn good vegan dining” RSS icon

  • That stuff looks totally awesome! sushi does tend to always be a bit pricy unless you’re doing happy hour special things, as far as i can tell. but nommers!
    I hate seaweed. but i bet that sushi chef could even take that challenge on top of a vegan customer and turn out some delicious stuff!

  • i totally have to go in to burbank this week. lunch for brittany!

  • Sushi is usually expensive because of the high quailty fish. Of course the chefs would be thrilled to have a vegan couple dine at their restaurant. That means they can charge the same amount for a roll without any of the expensive fish. Think about it, you’re paying the same amount of money for something that cost them maybe half the price as a comparable roll with fish in it.

    Also, I’d be careful of eating anything at a sushi joint even if the chefs claim it’s vegan. Sushi rice is often cooked with a bonito-based dashi to give it savory flavor. The sauces usually have the same dashi in them. Simmered vegetables are often simmered in dashi broth. Even though traditionally, tempura batter doesn’t contain egg, I know lots of sushi joints use egg in their batter.

    Oh yeah, and watch out for kimchi too. It very often is fermented with anchovy or small shrimp.

  • miss anthrope

    louise: i did ask them to make sure no fish was in anything, or dairy or egg. they seemed pretty knowledgeable so hopefully it was safe.

    the vegan rolls were slightly less expensive than the fish ones, but still you are totally right. they made a killing off us!

  • oh what a great find! I see they have mountain veggie rolls, I am totally gonna have to check those out.

  • Hold the phone – LOOK at that garlic roll. I would go there just for that. Oh man.

  • awesome review and pics! I love Tomo Sushi! I do agree with Louise, I was a bit skeptical of the Kim Chi, but ate it anyway. I didn’t taste anything fishy, who knows… I think they do a slamming job there, which is obvious from your wonderful pics! and they are really nice! Wish they were closer, but still its a fun night out and pretty lively part of town!

  • I walk to Tomo sushi all the time! I’m glad you featured it. They’re so nice there and the sushi is aways delicious and interesting. That garlic sushi is off the hook. You think it’s going to be spicy and smelly, but it totally isn’t. Yum!

  • hello, i recently came across your blog and was looking through your posts. i was just wondering if you do consider seaweed to be vegan? i see in your rolls there is seaweed. i read somewhere that little fish and marine life can be traced on seaweed. i was just curious about your opinion, my boyfriend and i really want to go try this sushi place! thanks

  • I moved from Burbank to Boston in February. And I’m angry that I didn’t know of this place. Grrrrrrr

  • I ate here last night and it was amazing but I had a few questions, I was wondering if they cook the veggies in the same fryer as the shrimp tempura? Also is the eel sauce really vegan? Its always hard when someone advertises vegetarian because theres such a difference between what they can eat and vegans.

  • FYI most kimchi is not vegan. In order for fermentation, they use seafood to achieve this. Some kind of shrimp or oyster bits and brine is used. I am korean and unable to eat kimchi. There are other versions of kimchi but the classic kimchi is made with some kind of sea animal.

  • Sorry, but the first and last time I came here, the food was awful! =(

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