Last Friday evening, I sat huddled in a corner of Tomi Sushi & Ramen with my partner. We were one of five parties hunched near the entrance waiting for a table, preferring to wait in the small lobby area instead of standing in the growing evening chill. The business phone rang just every few minutes.

Every table was full for at least three hours of their dinner service that night; and yet, this Japanese restaurant had only been open for just over a week.

Word of mouth spread fast about Tomi Sushi & Ramen, whose 'soft opening' on February 20, 2024 was covered in the Tri-City Herald. When I was waiting for dinner, the restaurant had a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews with over 60 reviews. It's the kind of success that's unheard of for new restaurants.

Sure, some of it may be powered by the fact that Tomi is open in what used to be Dickey's BBQ, but it takes more than an iconic location to have a full house. It takes good food and good service.

We were eventually seated after about a 15-minute wait, and from this new vantage point, it was evident that the restaurant was operating with remarkable efficiency. While local restaurants usually struggle visibly with the chaos of a busy night (something I can't blame them for), Tomi Sushi & Ramen operates as smoothly as a high-scale restaurant with years under its belt.

A fresh bowl of tonkotsu ramen
Jaime Skelton, Townsquare Media

Alright, but what about the food?

My partner ordered tonkotsu ramen, a ramen soup with a bone broth base. I ordered tonkatsu - similarly spelled, but which is a fried and breaded pork cutlet. We also ordered takoyaki (fried dough balls with octopus) as an appetizer and sparkling peach sake.

Everything was absolutely delicious and met our personal standards for Japanese food (which are fairly high). The takoyaki were the best we've had locally - fried to a crispy outside and a tender doughy inside, with fresh octopus. The miso soup broth was light and not too salty, the rice was perfectly cooked, the tonkatsu pork was tender (and generous - two cutlets, not just one), and the ramen broth rich and filling. And for all of that, plus a bottle of sake, our bill was just under $60 before tip.

Of course, Tomi has sushi too - a dedicated sushi bar with chefs ready to make fresh for anyone who orders. While we didn't try any sushi this time, it's on our list for our next visit - visually, the sushi was quite impressive and the reviews online sing its praises.

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The menu for Tomi Sushi & Ramen is well-balanced, but not perfect. For a restaurant that has 'ramen' in the name, it lacks ramen options: only tonkotsu, spicy tan tan ramen, and vegetable ramen. No shoyu or miso ramen feels like a crime, but of course, those might appear on a menu in the future. Further, there's plenty of menu options for those who don't enjoy sushi or who are relatively new to Japanese food, and the staff is friendly and more than happy to explain dishes.

The main complaint I have about Tomi is that it needs more lobby space - because I don't see the wait dying down any time soon here. If you're going for dinner, I highly recommend calling ahead.

Tonkatsu pork on a plate of greens.
Jaime Skelton, Townsquare Media

Tomi Sushi & Ramen Restaurant Information:

  • Located at 122 S Ely St in Kennewick
  • Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner with a closure in between.
  • Monday - Thursday: 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM, 4:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM, 4:30 PM - 9:30 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 PM - 3:30 PM, 4:30 PM - 9:30 PM

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