Tuome, Can You Hear Me

Tuome SkateI had the entire conversation rehearsed in my head while sitting in the car waiting for our table.  The smiling dude from Tuome said we came too early and that our table wasn’t ready, but the good news was we could wait by the bar.  Memorandum to restaurant owners of NYC:  If the tiny little bar of yours is completely full with no standing room allowed whatsoever, don’t point to it and say you can wait by the bar.  You look like an ass.  I said we’ll wait in the car (freezing conditions btw), while staring at the two empty drafty tables by the entrance making him aware that I see those tables and he better not give them to us when the time comes.  Reminiscing about a certain Yemeni cafe in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where we froze to death, and they built a museum around us.  When we finally got the callback, we were offered a choice of a drafty table, or not drafty one in the center of the room.  Hmm.. let me go back to the car and think about this one a little bit.  OK, I’ll take the nice and warm one in the middle of the room.  Close call, but we are off to a fantastic start.

TuomeThe front room is rather small, rustic, and quite East Villagy.  Tables very close together which can be a good thing (more on that later).  When someone walks behind you, you bounce a little like that bouncy at the Museum of Sex.  The only other room I explored was the tiny unisex bathroom.  It was one of those cold, pee every 2 hour days in NYC which brings yet another tip.  Before watching a Russian movie like ‘Leviathan’, going an hour before is way too soon.  You need to visit the bathroom right before the movie, as the concept of editing still hasnt made it to mother Russia.

Where was I, oh yes, Tuome.  Or “Toe Me” as Thomas Chen’s parents used to pronounce “Tommy”.  Formerly with Eleven Madison Park and Commerce, this is Toe Me’s first crack at managing one.  The American menu is interesting, playful, and full of Asian influences.  Annisa light if you will.  Unlike Annisa and the momofukus out there however, there’s a clear sweet tone in some of the dishes.  And the playfulness in a way backfires a little while showing some immaturity (“Pig Out” for 2 can easily be pork dish for 1, table side “espuma” squirting).  But, at the end of the day, the outcome was quite positive.

Chicken Liver – Good, Very good actually according to liver freak mrs Z.  Silky smooth, looking like a plate of hummus with a pool of olive oil in the middle.  Except in this case its Maple syrup which added much sweetness but an enjoyable dish nonetheless

Tuome Deviled EggsDeviled Egg – Nothing like any deviled eggs I’ve had in my young Deviled Eggs career.  Three eggs, breaded and fried, with a nice dollop of chili-garlic sauce that made all the difference.  Just a great combination of textures and nice deep lasting flavors.  Perhaps the dish of the night

Octopus – This is an excellent puss.  One tentacle, surrounded by porky XO sauce on one side while waiter squirts “Espuma” (fancy for foam) on the other.  Doubt East Villagers are impressed by table side squirting any more.  Maybe a better fit for Theater District where you can even get away with “Espuma”.  The leg was nicely cooked, not too mushy or too hard, and the XO sauce I couldnt get enough of.  Reminiscent of the All’onda XO with Soppressata.  The only thing is I wished the leg was a bit bigger, like Portuguese octopus I see on occasion.  A few bites of the meaty part and you are left with a long slightly overcooked skinny dude.  Great dish still.Tuome Octopus

Next was a welcomed wait after all three small plates came at the same time 10 minutes after we sat down. Proper pacing of the dishes seems like a rarity these days.

Short Rib – Another exceptional dish.  Extremely tender and juicy, with a sweet glaze and more sweetness from the sweet potato puree.  Very good dish, but felt all too familiar.  Unlike the other dishes, nothing out of the ordinary here but I’d order it again.  Its just that the city is suddenly loaded with exceptional short rib and beef cheek plates

Skate (top) – Good, really good according to Mrs Z.  Nice size, lightly fried, with cauliflower bits and Marcona Almonds.  Good flavor though got a little boring toward the end.Tuome short Rib

Brussels Sprouts – Outstanding side.  One of the better ones we’ve had in NYC.  Mixed with more of that Pork XO, with raisins and grapes providing a nice balance

Rice – Yet another great side.  Sticky rice with sweet Chinese sausage (a bit too sweet), duck fat packed inside Lotus leaves.  Another dish where most of the excitement came from the initial touches, but I would certainly order again.  This is one of those places where sides require special attention.  The Corn looked good as well

Pig Out for two – This is their specialty but with just the two of us we opted to try more of the menu and sides instead of being in the mercy of one dish.  The gimmick seems to work for them, but as a customer I dont see a reason why they cant evenly divide the 10 pork belly squares by 2 and offer individual sizes.  So the brilliant plan was to get friendly with the neighbors and try theirs.  We half succeeded… jokingly offered any help if they required and even gave some advice on visiting Iceland, but no {porky} dice.

Chinese Beignets – Dessert is not a strong suit here.  This is at the moment the only option and if it continues than perhaps some help from Anita Lo may be required to perfect these Beignets.  However, this wasnt nearly a complete loss as the three condiments provided especially the ice cream with red bean paste saved the moment.

For such a young chef who started out as an accountant, Tommy is doing a lot of things right.  I’ll be back (if I’m still welcomed)

536 East 5th Street
Recommended Dishes: A rare all of the aboveTuome Liver Tuome Rice Tuome - Brussels Sprouts Tuome Beignets


Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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