Initially, if I told you that I had limited knowledge of Tokyo Restaurant in Providence, it would be an overstatement. The truth is I never heard anyone say anything about the place, good or bad. I tend to like these kinds of situations – entering with no expectations, enabling me to judge the restaurant solely on my own.
So the Front Row Eats team decided to collaborate on our first write-up and share our experience with you. This way you don’t have to make a “blind” food decision like we did. Hey, it’s basically our job as food bloggers, right?! Why the hell else would you be reading our article :)
We immediately appreciated the authenticity of the restaurant. There was a separate room in which diners take their shoes off and eat cross-legged on the floor. This separates Tokyo from other Japanese restaurants. In fact, I personally don’t know of any others in Rhode Island that have this feature (correct me if I’m wrong). It’s a great touch for those that want the full dining experience!
Tokyo Restaurant has an extensive menu, mainly composed of an endless array of sushi rolls (which we will talk about later), but we decided to start with a few appetizers first….of course, that’s if we were able to find our waiter and place our order. Not to foreshadow, but Tokyo House has the WORST service I have had in years. They make 16-year-old waiters at Applebee’s seem like they should serve private tables at the White House. We literally waited 15 minutes before the waiter came to our table and that’s only because I flagged him down. And the service gets worse…
We began with two orders of Miso Soup. The waiter brought one soup (shockingly enough), dropped it on the table, and ran off before I could ask him where the other soup was. After 5 minutes of searching for our waiter, we were finally able to inform him we were missing a soup.
Our long-awaited soup left more to be desired for. Traditional Japanese Miso (the paste that dissolves with water) contains dried baby sardines, kelp, and soy beans which provide hefty amounts of flavor. Unfortunately, our soups were loaded with salt and tasted awful. If you have ever had a mouth-full of water while swimming in the ocean, you can imagine what our Miso soup tasted like. It was borderline inedible. This was not a good start…
The noodles were delicious. They had more of a pasta-like quality rather than your typical Japanese noodle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though because we finished the entire plate. The noodles were very light and tasty. There was a perfect balance of textures and flavor including the savoriness of the soy sauce and the crunch of carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms. Next time, I might just order this for myself so I don’t have to share it!
As Nick mentioned, the list of sushi rolls seemed to never end. In total there were easily over 100 different rolls to choose from. Ironically, the complete lack of service allowed us to look over the menu.
It didn’t take long for the sushi to arrive and the first thing we noticed was the presentation. Overall it was ok. My only complaint was the abundance of black tobiko that littered the top of one of the rolls.
First up was the Wickenden Roll (pictured above ~ far right). We never had flounder in sushi before so this was a must-try. The tempura batter was light and crispy which paired well with the soft filet of flounder. Each chunk was surrounded by cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, and a thin layer of spicy mayo. We throughly enjoyed the roll and were excited to taste the others.
On deck was the Tango Roll (pictured above). The minced lobster and fresh mango slices were a great combination. I was able to taste the sweetness of the mango which gave the sushi a refreshing ending. Nick disagreed by stating the huge pools of spicy mayo overpowered the roll, but I beg to differ. And at only $5.00, you simply can’t go wrong.
My personal favorite was the River Roll which consisted of smoked salmon, shrimp and avocado. Very simple and very clean. The salmon was super-fresh and the shrimp seemed like an added bonus. Dipping it into a bath of spicy mayo made it that much tastier.
As a whole, our experience at Tokyo Restaurant was so-so. Aside from the Miso soup, all our dishes tasted great and prices were extremely wallet-friendly. Service on the other hand was downright poor. Just remember, as with anything in life, you get what you pay for and Tokyo Restaurant is a perfect example.
-Nick & Chris