Tomukun's pho is noodles and beef broth accompanied by a small platter of cool, crisp mix-ins. I was instructed to float a jalapeno slice in the bowl before sprinkling on sprouts, squeezed lime, and crushed mint and basil. Something magic evolved, a warm richness greater than the parts of the dish. I inhaled the spicy vapors and slurped slowly with the oversize white porcelain spoon. It was soon apparent I was enjoying a soup for all seasons that had moved beyond its ethnic provenance.
That weekend in August, the New York Times Magazine was obsessing about failure-to-launch among twenty-somethings. Meanwhile, I was marveling at deceptively simple fare in a restaurant brought to new life by twenty-seven-year-old Thomas Yon and his partners at Tomukun (the name's a friendly play on the young restaurateur's name). "The comfort foods we loved as kids and still love today," the menu promises. And that's what the young Asian male chefs in the shining stainless steel cooking area prepare. It's what the waitresses in black hot pants shorter than their aprons and black Tomukun T-shirts efficiently and cheerfully serve.
Yet Tomukun can be off-putting at first, especially for those of us of a certain age (over twenty-nine). Literally and figuratively, town meets gown on its block, in the shadow of the Michigan Theater marquee. Several people told me they went once to Tomukun and weren't eager to return.