When a good friend texted me last week, “Are you an adventurous eater? Are you free Wednesday,” my answer was yes and yes. That is how I got to try my first Japanese hot pot. Hakata Tonton is a little spot in the West Village, pretty hard to get reservations, so we were going out at 9:30pm on a Wednesday.
Of course, we had to start out the meal with a sake tasting flight at the suggestion of my friend Eric Berelovich. From left to right, we tried a Kansansui, Kasumizake, and Kitaya. The driest of the three, the Kitaya was my favorite. The Nigori (cloudy) texture of the second sake is not a taste that I love.
We went a little crazy with the appetizers, but there is nothing wrong with that! First we had the Tuna Carpaccio with scallions, tomatoes, fried garlic chips, and a healthy slab of spicy mayo. It was delicious, not too spicy, plenty of crisp.
The next dish up was Monkfish Liver. I don’t think I have ever had monkfish on its own, but the liver was incredibly rich and tender.
At my request, we got the special, grilled squid! It’s always a gamble, often squid is served too tough. I thought this one was exceptionally well prepared. Even before we got to the main event, we got to sample a plethora of delicious Japanese dishes. Check back here later this week for the Hakata Tonton hot pots!