Friday, March 17, 2017

Too Too Tasty: Tootoomoo's Bottomless Brunch

I love the politeness of British culture. What we might term, "ALL YOU CAN EAT" back in the States, is subtly translated into "Eat as much as you'd like!" or, the even more appealing, "bottomless" here in the UK. The mere mention of "bottomless brunch" evokes images of mimosas being poured, glasses clicking, and piles upon piles of pancakes and waffles and floral dresses on a sun-drenched terrace somewhere. 

What I hadn't anticipated was heaping platefuls of gyoza, popcorn rock shrimp, stir-fried pad thai noodles, yuzu salmon sushi maki rolls and pitchers of cocktails, which is precisely what pan-Asian restaurant Tootoomoo (with branches in Whetstone, Crouch End, Islington and Highgate) is currently offering in their new bottomless brunch menu.

John and I nipped down to the Islington branch of Tootoomoo, carting around a giant lampshade we'd bought at Heal's the day before - and promptly needed to return (because it looked totally wrong in our living room, despite me voicing my hesitation at the point of purchase). After awkwardly depositing said lampshade in a corner of the restaurant (it's tiny - I think I counted eight tables, as they mostly operate on a takeaway basis), we sat down, appetites primed (I ate nothing that morning and shouted at John when his hand reached for a box of muesli) for the vast number of options laid out before us.

Tootoomoo's bottomless brunch is priced per sitting: 1.5 hours cost £35 per person (food and drinks included) and 2 hours, £45 per person. Diners can select dishes from across the entire menu. It's a good bet for 1) the morning after a particularly heavy night (the intense flavors and fried options are super appealing for hangover-mode) 2) brunch with a gaggle of friends before heading out to explore London (because after all that food, you'll be staring straight down the tunnel of a food coma if you don't move quickly) or 3) just a fun, weekend treat.

I'm not usually a fan of pan-Asian cuisine (for me, it raises doubts about the authenticity of the dishes) and while Tootoomoo certainly gives this definition a wide berth, with influences from Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cooking, I enjoyed the spiciness of our chicken Rendang curry; the piping-hot gyoza with perfectly crisp bottoms; and the sticky BBQ pork ribs with char siu sauce and sesame seeds - all washed down with a pitcher of the "Cinderella" mocktail (orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice, plus grenadine and soda water).

The interior of the restaurant is colorful and fun, recalling street food markets we'd visited on our travels to Thailand and Singapore. A family of four came through the door about half an hour after our arrival, having booked a table, so it's clearly a local favorite.

If you're in the mood for something a little different, or are searching for a place to meet up with friends or family on a lazy Saturday/Sunday afternoon, I'd suggest this bottomless brunch. John and I didn't really do it justice, despite arriving with empty stomachs, but for an hour and a half, we had fun pretending to be gluttons, and it gave us plenty of energy to cart that lampshade all the way back to Heal's (where we left with a new one after another hour of debate).

We were guests of Tootoomoo Islington at 279 St Paul's Road, N1 2LH. All opinions are my own. Book a table for their bottomless brunch here, served every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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