Thursday, May 08, 2008


Hakata Tonton
61 Grove St (West Village)

Andrea was back in town again so we went to Hakata Tonton, aka "Death by Porky." We made reservations but when we arrived it was empty, and the entire time we were there, there were only two other tables, both filled with Japanese customers. So at least we knew we were in the right hands.

We started off with salmon and yellowtail carpaccio topped with strawberry essence and fried garlic. What an interesting mix of flavors. The strawberry essence (cream? mayo?) was very subtle and the garlic added an interesting element. I wouldn't order it again but it was good.

Next came the tonsoku (pig's foot) grilled with salt. Now I dissected pig's feet in high school. This didn't look anything like it. The skin was slightly crisp in places and chewy and rubbery in others. Maybe it would've been better if it was more well done, I don't know - not my favorite dish of the night. I wouldn't order this again either, but maybe I would try it cooked a different way. They also offer a sake infused miso tonsoku and slow roasted pork with tonsoku.

These are the cream crab croquettes, made with collagen which is supposed to be very good for your skin. Served atop some buttery sweet potato mash, these were crispy and creamy at the same time and absolutely delicious. I could've eaten another order myself I think.

Our second pork course, grilled pork belly kabob. Simply served on a big skewer with just a bit of sauce and sesame seeds - this was a great basic item.

Our third pork course, Himi's homemade gyoza served on a sizzling plate. This came with ponzu sauce for dipping, with some ground yuzu pepper on the side. You can't go wrong with gyoza. The wrapper was tissue thin and housed a generous portion of simply seasoned ground pork.

Our last course, lobster fried rice. Andrea said it tasted a bit like tepanyaki fried rice because of the butter and soy sauce. This was definitely a winner, with large chunks of fresh lobster scattered throughout.

As we were leaving one of the waitresses followed us out and offered us PEZ out of a Princess Jasmine dispenser. Weird and adorable. I think the next time I go I'll bring them a new one.

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