Tucked within one of the entrances to Strathfield Plaza is Tomoya, a Strathfield rendition of the classic Korean-run mixed Japanese and Korean diner. Tomoya follows the widespread tradition of Japanese cuisine served by Korean people, providing authentic East Asian food at a relatively affordable price compared to many fully-Japanese eateries.
We visited at around 2PM on a Monday afternoon, at which point the place was absolutely packed. The two waitstaff rostered to tackle this problem looked like they were completely run off their feet tending to Korean and Chinese aunties and uncles of varying shapes and sizes talking about classic Korean and Chinese auntie and uncle topics – we heard the words “James Ruse” mentioned more than once from a neighbouring table.
It took a while for the extra-busy staff to take our orders, and even longer still for banchan to be served. Looking around the room it seems like they have made a conscious decision to only serve banchan once the food is being served also. This doesn’t make that much sense to me, as it means that we lose out on banchan-eating time whilst waiting for our food.
This Chicken Katsu Dolsot ($19.50) was quality. It was the only Japanese-ish dish that we ordered within our mostly Korean meal, and quite a good one at that. The chicken was moist and tender within its blanket of crumbs, and the dish was just adequately sauced so that every bite had flavour. The bottom of the rice was crispy as expected, and this was overall a well priced and well tasting dish.
I’ve always wanted to try Haemul Sunbudu Jjigae (soft tofu spicy soup with seafood) ($21) but I’ve always avoided it as a kindness to my partner, who doesn’t really like most seafoods. I seized the opportunity today, however, and ordered, knowing that even though she wouldn’t want it she would be happy with her non-seafood based chicken dish. Unfortuantely for me it appears that Tomoya has recently hiked up its prices, with this particular dish previously being sold for a whole $5 cheaper on menus available online. Perhaps it is merely COVID related inflation, but I doubt we will ever see prices come down again.
The soup, to be honest, was really only OK. There was a heavy focus on tofu and octopus legs, with a couple of pipis and mussels thrown in, as well as half a crab. The flavour was quite light – not as spicy or sour as I had expected, and the soup in general felt a bit watery. As this is my first time having this kind of soup I must admit that I don’t have anything to compare this to. What I do know is that I probably won’t be ordering this again from this particular restaurant.
The seafood and shallot pancake ($21) is actually one of the best I’ve had in recent times. There is a distinct seafood scent and flavour that permeates the entire pancake, from the first bite to the last, that is present even in parts of batter with no seafood. The batter itself is extremely crispy on the outside, whilst retaining a degree of softness and palatability on the inside. The shallot is generously distributed, adding a fresh umami flavour to the mostly octopus based seafood. This is a really good quality seafood pancake, but it’s a shame that, similar to the stew, this has also increased in price from its previously advertised price of $18.
Overall I think the food at Tomoya is pretty alright, but the experience is significantly weighed down by how understaffed they are. Recent significant (10-20%) price hikes across the menu are also quite disappointing, and unfortunately take Tomoya outside of that sweet spot in terms of price and quality that Korean-Japanese cuisine can sometimes hit.
4/5 , good variety, good pancake.
Strathfield Plaza, 34/11 The Boulevarde, Strathfield NSW 2135
(02) 9746 8877