Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hakata Tonton

Yesterday I was supposed to try this other Japanese restaurant that's new to me, and I was so pumped for it, but somehow I got sidetracked and ended up at Hakata Tonton in the West Village. It's a "Kyushu Japanese Soul Food" restaurant that serves "renditions of the food made famous in Hakata, Japan." I feel like I'm writing a research paper with all these quotation marks. Anyway, not totally sure I know what "kyushu" means, but it's gotta be good. God, it was the one of the best meals I've had in recent memory (I haven't forgotten Balthazar though). I also haven't had such a serious decision making dilemma when reading a menu in a long while. It was stressful, to say the least. Luckily everything is meant to share, so we got a few plates.  

Cold ramen with seaweed, some Japanese yam, and other miscellaneous unidentifiable cold vegetables
So their online menu isn't as extensive as the on in the restaurant, so I can't go back and read exactly what I ate. I tried to remember, but I was so caught up in eating (re: inhaling) my food. But yeah, I've never had cold ramen before and it was really delicious. The noodles were cooked perfectly, just the right amount of chewiness, but I'm not sure how to explain all the layers of flavors I was tasting, they were all pretty new to me. Or at least used in a new way and I couldn't figure out what was going on other than "this is so good." I mean, it was really...milky, but with a very strong fishy flavor, not in a pungent bad way though. Not at allll.

Kaisen roll: salmon, tuna,  scallop, something that we didn't recognize in the roll or on the menu, cucumber, and roe roe roe

So good, so so good. There were so many different things going on, but not in a confusing way. It felt like my tastebuds were going through different levels of taste and textures. 

Slow cooked pork with buns and spicy mustard

I wasn't totally sure how to eat the pork with the buns, the waitress was explaining it to us but at the moment, I was occupied with a piece of that roll in my mouth so I didn't hear anything she said. I think I tackled it in the wrong way, but whatever. The pork was so tender and sweet, in a subtle way, and the mustard gave it a nice kick, though I don't think it was that spicy. And of course the fattiness of it all really brought it all home, I felt like I was melting away with the pork. The buns were also very good, they were really sweet but with like this little hint of sourness. I don't know, the first thought that I had was "interesting" not "SO GOOD" but I eventually got to there.

At the time, I thought this picture was a good idea. I wanted to show you all the layers of the pork, especially this especially fatty piece because David doesn't eat pork that much and I think it weirded him out a little bit. But it just looks like I took a huge bite out of it. Which I did. I just thought it would look better than this.

Crispy chicken wings

I remember reading something about butter being involved with this dish, but again, it's not on their online menu and I can't go check!! I should pay attention. 

This was the best part of the meal. Everything was amazing, but I wouldn't order it again until I've tried a bunch of other things on the menu. But I would definitely get this again next time. The chicken was so right on with mixing sweet and savory flavors, and cooked exactly the right way. It was perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and just a lil oily in a good way because it came from the chicken, and not from excessive frying.

Creme brulee and black sesame ice cream

I love black sesame ice cream, but I don't know how to describe the taste in English. I have a word for it in Korean, but I don't know what it translates to in English. I guess the best description I can come up with is that it has a really deep, toasted flavor to it. It's in this gray area that's not savory or sweet. 

I'm still really really full. And also getting late for work. I guess I should go.

1 comment:

KYM said...

Lily, I'll try to help with the Japanese stuff.

Kyushu is one of the four main islands in Japan. It's the one closest to Korea, on the west side. Tonkotsu based ramen is really big out there. It literally means pig bones. There's a lot of the gelatin from the bones in the soup, if that helps with the connection. Hakata is an area in Kyushu, if you were wondering.

Also, there's a good chance that the Japanese yam is the Japanese mountain yam. Was it all gooey? Cause that would be it. When they grate it up, it gets a really sticky consistency. They call that goo "tororo". Pretty good with rice.