After a long, hard day at school, there isn’t anything that hits the comfort-food spot quite like noodles and soup. So, after a busy beginning to the week, my friend and I take a timeout to head to Tomukun Noodle Bar for a rare, midweek sit-down meal.
Pork buns sound good, so we start with those. The succulent roasted pork belly is paired with pickled vegetables and scallions in a chewy steamed bun. At $6 for an order of two small buns, this feels like a slightly pricey appetizer. After we devour them in seconds, I decide they were well worth the money.
We wait more than 20 minutes for our entrées, so I am expecting greatness by the time they arrive. (The restaurant was packed, but is that excuse enough for a bowl of soup to take 35 minutes?)
Fortunately, the food is pretty tasty. I order the chicken pho, essentially Vietnamese chicken noodle soup, for $11 (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s a measly sum considering the massive size of the soup). Pho is a thin rice noodle served in a broth, and Tomukun tosses a number of vegetables in to make it heartier. Sprouts, Thai basil, mint, jalapeños and lime come on the side. I splurge and order a side of the house chili oil for 50 cents too, which is an essential for fans of spicy food. Without the chili oil, the soup was just meh; a lack of kick and the small portion of protein left me wanting more. That healthy dose of the chili gave the dish the boost I needed for meal satisfaction, however I still probably won’t order the pho again.
My friend, Alex, orders the tofu chow fun, a stir-fry dish with a wide rice noodle for $10. The heaping portion is definitely enough to take home for lunch the next day, and the delicious chewy noodle is mixed with tofu and an array of vegetables in a sweet ginger soy sauce. The balance between sweet and spicy in the dish is perfect — especially when you add a little bit of the chili oil (clearly, the savior of the meal). In the words of Alex, “the flavor was just right.” You’d be foolish not to try some for yourself.
As a side note: I didn’t get the whole Tomukun experience, as I am not of age, but I am told the bar at Tomukun serves up some great drinks to complement your meal. Have one for me, legal drinkers.
Overall, my Tomukun experience was good… but not great. The food was mostly enjoyable and the atmosphere was fun, but since I needed to add flavor to much of the meal and the wait was long, I can’t give the place top marks; just a tentative recommendation. I’ll definitely be back to explore more of the menu, though. The interesting dishes that I saw coming out of the kitchen were enough to draw me in for Round 2.
Address: 505 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, MI
Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.