November 22-28, 2006

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First Bite

Tommy's Wok

By Alastair Bland

A colorful variety of attractions are available on the menu at Tommy's Wok in Sausalito, but it was the rumor of fresh vegetables, organic ingredients and brown rice that sold me. My eating companion and I, both vegetarians, went on a Tuesday night. There was no line and no wait. The staff was attentive and friendly enough, if a little indifferent toward this whole business of serving customers, and our waiter gestured us toward a table by the window.

Service was fast. Our large vegetarian hot and sour soup ($7.85) arrived only a moment after we made our order. Seasoned heavily with pepper and soy sauce and loaded with shredded egg and tofu, this dish was well-balanced with the sweet, the spicy and the sour. We had eaten a few spoonfuls when our entrées arrived.

The deluxe vegetables ($8.85) consisted of carrot, broccoli, celery, shiitake mushrooms and some tofu, the latter smooth, tasteless and added for the price of $1. The sauce was clear, shallow and perfectly neutral--not offensive or bad by any means, just in need of a little something. Soy sauce was available, but I think that coconut curry might have been interesting or wasabi or balsamic vinegar or olive oil or hot sauce or hummus. Anything, really. Perhaps just some salt or a squirt of ketchup.

The spicy basil tofu ($9.85) needed no help with flavor. The asparagus, snow peas, bell peppers, onion and tofu swam in a thick and delicious sauce of peanuts and fresh chopped basil, and the whole dish seemed more in the tradition of something Thai, but that's fine. I love Thai food.

With the entrées, our waiter delivered the main attraction. I had gone hungry all day in anticipation of the heaping mounds of steaming brown rice that I had read about on a review of Tommy's I found on the Internet, but our little bowls ($1.50) were a slight letdown. The rice was gone in just minutes, and we had nothing left to eat our peanut sauce with but our spoons.

Meanwhile, I sipped a glass of Rodney Strong Cabernet ($6), read the menu some more and wondered about life beyond vegetables. The seafood entrées included the very controversial orange roughy ($14.85), which Tommy's Wok proudly imports from New Zealand, and Chilean sea bass (neither Chilean nor sea bass; $14.85). The menu featured plenty of other meats, too, a variety of salads, some noodle plates and even chicken corn chowder (small $6.50; large $7.85).

Tommy's Wok manages to produce filling and tasty food without the emphasis on grease and oil common to many Chinese restaurants. Full on vegetables and brown rice, we felt light and energized as we cracked open our fortune cookies. My dinner mate was told she is charming and courteous--sort of accurate--while my fortune prophesied that I would be successful in life. It was a nice thing to imagine.

Tommy's Wok, 3001 Bridgeway Ave., Sausalito. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday; dinner only, Sunday. 415.332.5818.

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Quick-and-dirty dashes through North Bay restaurants. These aren't your standard "bring five friends and order everything on the menu" dining reviews.