How often do you go out of your way to have a date in Midtown? About as often as you pick up 1-800 phone calls? Never? Sounds about right. But that might change once you’ve eaten fried brie while listening to an alto sax solo at Tomi Jazz.
This tiny basement Japanese spot on East 53rd Street hosts live jazz every night starting at 8pm (and only charges cover on weekends). We can’t think of too many cave-like places where you can watch someone play the cello while eating okonomiyaki, creamy cod roe spaghetti, and salmon rice balls. So while you could come to Tomi Jazz just for drinks - they have enough whiskey and sake options to warrant a Dewey Decimal system - you’d be missing out if you didn’t at least get a snack. And you might as well stay for dinner, especially because securing a seat requires some forethought - they only take reservations on Saturday nights. Any other time, just show up before 7pm.
For one reason or another, you may have to go on an impressive date in Midtown someday. When the time comes, you’ll need to find a special place that’ll somehow make you forget you’re a half-mile from Auntie Anne’s in Penn Station. That’s where Tomi Jazz comes in.
If you’re just getting one thing at Tomi Jazz, make it this cod roe spaghetti. The noodles have the perfect amount of chew, and the cream and fishy salt flavors will complement your sake. In other words, cod roe spaghetti makes for really good drinking food.
Nothing revolutionary happening here, but it’s a solid snack for one person (don’t try to share, it’s too messy). You can also try rice balls filled with spam and pickled plum.
Listen, we had some sake and then pointed to this on the menu. It was almost non-voluntary, and just what our body wanted at the time. We’d suggest you do the same.
A borderline too-saucy pancake. Keep your napkins at the ready.
There are dozens of options of sake by the glass accompanied by thorough tasting note descriptions. It’s possible your glass will come in a little wooden box that’s floating in a bowl of sake (which you can drink after your first glass is empty).