Hakata Tonton, NYC

We recently headed down to West Village for our first meal at Hakata Tonton of 2016, and Chef Koji did not disappoint!

He kicked things off with a trio of raw appetizers, which included kampachi with ponzu sauce and garlic…

Salmon with avocado and ikura…

And Tonton’s signature raw Japanese veal liver, one of the city’s standout dishes, in my opinion…

The grilled whole mentaiko fish egg sack was just wonderful…

And Chef Koji brought us out some special New Year’s sake to celebrate…

Next up were homemade dumplings in chili oil with bok choy…

Grilled tonsoku (pork trotters) in ponzu sauce…

Then it was “nabe” time! We mixed things up a little this visit, ordering a Hakata Tonton Hot Pot to start, with collagen broth, Berkshire pork belly, oysters,  tonsoku, dumplings, vegetables and tofu…

That mountain boils down to a nice, spicy broth…

Then rice is added in at the end for a risotto-like finish…

To which Chef Koji grated on fresh Parmesan cheese to add a little extra umami…

Our other hot pot was our usual “motsu nabe”, with Kobe beef intestines, cabbage, Chinese chives, dumpling skins and garlic in a white broth…

Chef Koji multi-tasking here, stirring the pot while delivering beers!

And once our intestine pot was simmering…

…we went with rice AND noodles in this one!

The new, second dining room at Hakata Tonton is now officially open, and that makes it a little easier to get a table these days, but reservations are still a must. And with Chef Koji offering some daily specials and looking to add a few new menu items, the buzz over Tonton continues to build!


Hakata Tonton

61 Grove St., NYC

212-242-3699

http://www.tontonnyc.com/

flickr

Der Leberkäse aka Fleischkäse is a delicious German specialty food similar to bologna sausage. It consists of corned beef, pork, bacon, and onions and is made by grinding the ingredients very finely and then baking it as a loaf in a bread pan until it has a crunchy brown crust. It is said to have been invented in 1776, although this story has been heavily contested. The name literally translates to “liver-cheese” due to the fact that older recipes included liver and because of the cheese-like texture of the dish. Since the modern version typically has no liver, the term “Fleischkäse” became widespread. 

2

Mirror Mirror on the Floor

Aging beer in the cellar is not an exact science. And if your “cellar” consists of a few shoeboxes in the back of the closet, sometimes weird stuff happens. For example, last year I opened a bottle of Mirror Mirror, Deschutes’ barrel aged barley wine, and found a bland, lifeless fizzle. A year later, and a bottle from the same vintage tastes like liquid gold.

The first whiff confirmed that this was an exceptional bottle. It smelled boozy and luxurious. An extra note of fruit has emerged from the bottle – plum or grape. The barrel aging also shows through, a nice oaky vanilla with plenty of bourbon heat. It’s warm, but smooth. Caramel malts form the chewy, delicious core of the beer. There’s a cereal grain quality to Mirror Mirror, like Wild Turkey on bran flakes. It’s damn tasty, but split it with a friend. They will thank you later.