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Tomato Bar and Karaoke

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Published October 1st 2011
Tomato Bar and Karaoke

As you walk down the main walkway of Chatswood, you see a building adorned with red neon lights saying "TOMATO BAR".

Authentic Korean cuisine in a quiet, intimate and very comfortable setting. Sink into their couches and order from a range of traditional korean foods.

Atmosphere
Tomato is spacious and diners can recline on two and three seater sofas (yes, sofas). There are two widescreen TVs which, during the day, screen Korean game shows and, at night, karaoke videos. The atmosphere is informal, a little escape from a busy day.

Menu and drinks
There is a special lunch menu featuring dishes for a reasonable price. The descriptions are straightforward: eel and rice, chilli octopus and rice, veges, rice and chilli paste, and so forth. The Korean names have been dropped, so pronunciation is not a problem.

Some descriptions, however, don't describe what you get - the orange tea is actually orange juice. There are a few interesting drinks, such as buttered hot chocolate or special juice shakes, but each time I have ordered them, they are unavailable.

The meal
Each table is given a jug of water and a selection of side dishes including kim chi and pickled ginger. The bibimbap is delicious. For a more authentic experience, order the bibimbap in a stone bowl. For a spicy alternative, try the kimchi stew, a strong hit of cabbage, garlic and enormous quantities of chilli. The beef and curry meal is warming, the Korean/Japanese curry has a consistency of gravy. Chilli octopus or eel and rice are other hits.

Service and value for money
There is a button on the side of your table. When pressed, this button alerts the waiter or waitress and he or she will promptly arrive at your table. Beware, though, this button is very sensitive.

Ordering is a little challenge. Make sure you point clearly at the meal you want to order and ask the waiter or waitress to repeat the order at the end. There is a ten or 15 minute wait for meals. The meals themselves are more than adequate, value for money is great with the lunch menu between $8 and $16.

Menu envy
Flipping through the menu you will discover more expensive Korean dishes designed to be shared by larger groups. Come in at night, get a couple of bottles of soju (Korean sake), have a good meal and belt out some karaoke tunes.

Karaoke
Walk but a few feet from the bar and you'll enter the karaoke area. Just walk up to the desk and ask for a room. Then sing your heart out to ABBA or the Beatles.
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Why? A new experience, a chance to catch a taste of korean culture
When: Anytime.
Where: In chatswood, on top of the restaurant Big Fish (ask for directions - the locals are friendly!)
Cost: From $10
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