Wish I could have this yummy #Okonomiyaki for breakfast everyday! Excellent dinner last night at with my food-loving ladies!
Comforting Hakata #Motsu #HotPot at in the #WestVillage! Love the combination of flavors in this special broth of Kobe beef Motsu (intestine), cabbage, Chinese chive, gyoza skin, garlic and chili peppers. Perfect to enjoy with friends this winter season!
Updated: Hakata Tonton
We like Hakata Tonton. We went back and had precisely the same experience we had the first time we were there. We had no idea what to order from the indigenous menu, and had to tread carefully through dishes containing parts of bodies we either didn't know existed, or wanted to avoid. And again, we were the only non-Japanese in the small room. It's all authentic. We had a large salad of leaves, garlic chips, ripe cherry tomatoes, and salmon sashimi, a scallion pancake rolled into a wrap, sliced into wedges containing more leaves and a salty, ground pork paste, fried chicken bites in a terrific, light, scallion and fruit sauce, grilled Black cod, and fried rice, moist but slightly fishy in taste. We were squeezed into our table for two -- the last two seats in the place -- but the service was, once again, gracious. One of these days we are going to decipher this menu. We'll keep you posted.
Pig Feet in NYC! – at Hakata Tonton
We celebrated T.C.’s birthday at this small Japanese restaurant in the West Village. It has a maximum capacity of about 25 people. The seats and tables are all wooden. There is a gigantic red lantern in the middle of the restaurant. People are engaged in animated conversations but the noise level is a consistent soft humming.
We shared the Seaweed Salad ($5) with yuzu ponzu dressing. Nothing special here. Just a nice, light salad to start the meal.
We then shared the Grilled Pork Tonsoku ($7) with scallion and ponzu sauce, which was like the Ratatouille moment when critic Ego, at the end of the film, has a bite of the ratatouille for the first time. He experiences this crazy flashback to his childhood when his mother made him the homiest, tastiest ratatouille. Pork tonsoku is pork feet, something my grandmother always prepared for my mom and something my mom always prepared for me. The Hakata Tonton version is delicious. It has a very rich, chewy texture (think tendon meets fat…) and the exterior is perfectly grilled so it is slightly charred and crisp. I am thinking about going back and just ordering one of these for myself with a bowl of rice.
We also ordered the tonsoku with spicy garlic sauce, which was not as tasty as the scallion and ponzu sauce. The ponzu adds a little bit of acidity, which paired with the raw scallions, helps cut the fattiness of the pork feet. The spicy garlic sauce was good, but didn’t cut through the fat as well so I didn’t feel like I could eat as much of it.
The table also shared the Snow Crab Croquette ($8) with pork tonsoku and Japanese sweet potato paste. I only really tasted the sweet potato paste, which was nice and creamy. It’s fried. It’s good. Though, no snow crab really to be found.
LAW and I then had the Garlic Fried Rice ($9) with pork tonsoku, scallions, and cilantro. The garlic bits were fried into garlic chips, which added a really fragrant crunch to every bite of rice. I misread the menu and thought we were getting little bits of tonKATSU in our rice but was happy to have that replaced by more pig feet!
I had the rice with a mysterious green paste on the table. I smelled it and immediately knew I would like it. It is the stuff they put in the vegetable ramen at Totto – one of my faves! A little googling tells me it is Yuzu Kosho (literally “yuzu and pepper”), “a spicy Japanese sauce made from green or yellow yuzu [a citrus fruit] zest, green or red chili peppers, and salt. To me, this paste is the definition of umami. It is so fragrant and makes anything just taste 10 times better. It really gets your salivary glands going and your taste buds screaming for more.
LAW and I also shared the Grilled Miso Black Cod ($12) with spicy miso sauce. Other than the fact that the cod was probably the size of half of my palm, it was delicious. Comparable to Robataya’s. It was buttery, flakey, fatty, just the right amount of sweet and and salty flavor.
The table shared the Grilled Tonton Pork with spicy garlic sauce and yuzu miso paste ($8). This was not that great. The pork was really tough, so tough that you could see everyone awkwardly trying to bite off bite-sized pieces but needing to just stick the whole thing in their mouths (TWSS).
Another dish the restaurant is known for is the Hakata Tonton Hot Pot ($13/person). It is a specialty of Hakata, Japan, made with collagen broth, tofu, dumplings, vegetables, berkshire pork belly, and tonsoku. I didn’t order it because it was a really hot day, but ended up eating a good deal of T.C. and J.H.’s pot because the portion was pretty good and it was right in front of me. Despite the soup’s red color, it isn’t spicy at all. Doesn’t taste like the kimchi jigae I expected it to. It was a light, very fragrant broth.
Look at how much the veggie shrinks when it’s cooked!
At the end of the meal, the hot potters were given an option to have rice or ramen. They, of course, went for the ramen. LAW and I shamelessly asked for double the ramen so we could both have some. Nothing like a bowl of soup and some carbs to end a meal.
NYC: Hakata Tonton
Hakata Tonton is a Japanese temple to pig's trotters located in the West Village. After hearing my brother rave about the grilled trotters, garlic fried rice, and the hot pot (I love hot pot), I knew I had to give it a try.
The restaurant is quite small and given its popularity, I would highly recommend making a reservation way in advanced. Even when I made a ressie a week ahead, the first opening for a table for 4 on a Saturday night was 9:30PM, so plan accordingly.
After taking a look through the menu, you will know that most of the dishes include pork of some sort - from ears, to belly and of course, the trotters.
The Spicy Tuna Carpaccio (which was delicious by the way) might be the only non-pork related item we ended up ordering. I absolutely loved the fried garlic that accompanied it. I'm a sucker for fried garlic.
Next up, we ordered two orders of Grilled Tonton Pork, one of their most popular dishes. The tonsoku, or pig's feet, was served with a spicy garlic sauce and also with a yuzu miso paste. Honestly, I believe I might not be the biggest fan of pig's feet. I mean, I'll eat it, but I don't LOVEEE it. The trotters were perfectly braised so that it was soft, but the grilled charred skin gave it texture that's normally not found with trotter dishes.
Another popular dish at Hakata Tonton is the popular Japanese street food, Okonomi-Yaki Pancake, served with pork tonsoku (of course), konjak & okonomi sauce. This was actually a lot spongier than I expected, but who doesn't love this savory pancake covered in a sweet and tangy sauce? Definitely one of the best that I've had.
Given the whole pork bun craze at Ippudo and other Japanese joints, we had to try the Slow Cooked Pork Belly w/ buns and spicy mustard. The pork was braised for a long time, perhaps too long as the fat was sliding off the meat, making it pretty awkward to eat without making a huge mess. The buns weren't especially soft either, but perhaps their generous portions made up for the lack of execution.
If you like garlic, you will love the Garlic Fried Rice, made with, what else? Pork tonsoku.
And finally, came time for the big finale, the Hakata Tonton Hot Pot, the namesake hot pot made of just all kinds of boiled goods. It's a specialty native to the city of Hakata in Japan, It's made with a collagen broth, tofu, chicken, dumplings, vegetables, pork belly and... say with with me... tonsoku!
The whole dish is actually quite impressive. They took it out towards the end of the meal as it was still cooking, and fresh veggies, chives in a stone pot. It takes about 10 minutes before it continues to boil down on top of the portable stove, giving all of us time to digest and make room for the feast ahead.
The pot of soup was so hearty, it was perfect for our cold winter day. As a lover of hot pot, I really enjoyed the flavorful broth here. Unlike Japanese Shabu Shabu, which they also serve here with a collagen broth, I really liked the random items added to the soup.
And of course, what's a post about Hakata Tonton without pictures of the tonsuku in the soup?
All in all, I enjoyed my meal at Hakata Tonton, but unless I was craving a really hearty meal full of pig's trotters and other less traditional parts of pork, I wouldn't be running back here anytime soon. The service here was a bit slow. The price was fair for Manhattan, but I can see the smaller dishes definitely started adding up. The most affordable dish was the Hakata Tonton Hot Pot which was only $13 per person - which I will easily come back in the winter time for.
Bu, unless I wanted the hot pot, my go-to joint for Japanese comfort food would still be Sake Bar Hagi in Midtown. Now, if only I can get myself to take pictures of that instead of eating everything in sight, I might blog about that in the future.
Hakata Tonton / New York
Hakata Tonton is a Kyushu (southern part of Japan) style Izakaya restaurant in the West Village, known as one of the hardest place to make a reservation in NYC. Their signature dish is a motsu(intistine) hotpot. However, if you'd like to try something unique, I would recommend Tonsoku (pig's feet) or Liver (veal liver) Sashimi - enjoy their intense flavor you've never experienced. The food was authentic, service and atmosphere were good overall. I would recommend for anyone looking for Izakaya in NYC - this is the place you must go.
Japanese Veal Liver Sashimi $14
Hakata Motsu Hotpot 17 per person (minimum two orders)
Good for dinner with friends
Price (INCLUDE tips):
$35 per person without drinks
Highlights of Hakata Tonton
Pig Paper Napkin
Japanese Veal Liver Sashimi $14
Motsu Ponzu $10
Sukiyaki Croqutte $10
Hakata Motsu Hotpot $17
Green Tea Tofu $7
61 Grove St.
New York, NY 10014
We almost didn't notice Hakata Tonton. It's barely a block from our apartment, and on a busy corner in the West Village, but it looks very non descript from outside, with an almost grungy awning over it's entrance. What gives it away is the many Japanese standing near the awning, waiting to get inside. It's small, with many close tables and a small L shaped bar for dining, and the specialty is pork. There are paper pigs on the walls, pigs on the napkins, and cooked pigs on many plates. We skipped the pig feet, unknowingly -- this is a difficult menu to decipher -- but liked everything we didn't skip. The edamame was nicely salted, the salmon sashimi was fresh and marinated with a dollop of mashed avocado, and the tuna yukke was blood red with seaweed and a crunchy panko, and delicious in whatever sauce it was it came with. The shrimp roll had fried shrimp a top, and the pork buns were lucious and rich. The black sesame ice cream tasted thick, almost peanut buttery. Matsuhisa, the chef at Nobu signed one of the white walls with a marker, and wrote "love". We think he was referring to the food, but it might have been the polite and very friendly service. The pez as we walked out of the door, served from an original hand held dispenser, was to freshen our breath. Who knew it was stale? We may have been the only Caucausians there, but we're willing to be in the minority again.
OVERALL RATING: Ah, so
For many reviewers, Hakata Tonton is found to be a delicious slice of Japanese dining in New York City. Located at 61 Grove Street, New York, NY, Hakata Tonton is reviewed by many as great food at a great cost with a Japanese staff that's regarded as knowing their stuff. Hakata Tonton is firmly buried by many reviews in the four-star range, yet there are some reviewers that have had bad experiences as well.
For many reviewers, the hotpot is a mixed bag at best, being cited as tons of tofu with few actual dumplings. The rest of the menu seems well received however, with the yakitori being immense and the small plates receiving rave reviews, especially for the price.
The decor of Hakata Tonton is reviewed by many as being sparse with the Japanese memorabilia, but still being very cozy. It's also reviewed by many as small and as such, one will want to order reservations.
Lastly, the capability of the staff and service is very welcomed by many reviewers. The staff will hold doors open, refill your glasses if they're below half empty, and will show you people in New York still remember the words please and thank you.