Pompoko, Brighton: 4/5
We approached Pompoko expecting a long wait due to the queue outside, but this turned out to be for takeout orders. We wanted to dine in, and were seated almost immediately. The rooms inside the restaurant are packed, and we were squeezed in on one table between two other groups. The takeout line snaked inside too, making for a crowded and bustling atmosphere, but we liked the feel of the place and didn’t mind at all.
The menu had a lot of vegetarian options, clearly marked, with photos showing you what to expect. The prices were uniformly low, which tempted us into ordering far too much food since the portions are generous.
Ordering takes place at the counter, where you can also ask for little tubs of additional sauces - I, of course, got extra chilli sauce. The food followed fairly quickly afterwards, and on the whole we observed a quick turnover of customers, though we took our time and didn’t feel hurried.
My starter was the only lowlight of the meal; a crunchy spring roll type affair but with tofu skin instead of a normal pastry wrapper. It was a bit tough and chewy, and didn’t do much for me.
My main of a tofu rice bowl with sesame BBQ sauce was much more enjoyable, with ample quantities of each ingredient. This dish alone would have been sufficient as a meal. The sauce could perhaps have been improved upon - it didn’t have a strong sesame flavour as I had wanted - but I would definitely make a return visit to try another rice bowl.
My boyfriend and I split the veggie noodles. This was a totally unnecessary indulgence and we struggled to eat much of it, thought it was very good for what it was. The veggies were fresh and cooked to the right level of tenderness. Fried noodles are generally greasy but these weren’t too bad at all. Still, in hindsight I wouldn’t bother with these again - I would stick to the rice bowl.
Overall, Pompoko is a popular and extremely good value restaurant, with an authentic atmosphere and great vegetarian options. I would definitely revisit Pompoko the next time I visit Brighton for a few days.