Sunday night. Not really feeling like visiting my usual haunts in TST so I decided to visit Tonikaku since I hadn't tried them since their recent renovation.
I'm greeted by a brand new, somewhat ominous (albeit interesting) entrance. The heavy door opens to reveal a warm, inviting dining room, definitely a grade up from the previous design. The louban recognises me and whisks me away into the private "room" at the back of the shop. Inside, I'm disappointed to find that the renovation hasn't had quite the same effect as the main dining area, but I'm here to focus on the food so let's move on...The Food
I start with some appetisers and pick a few that are interesting; natto with mountain potato, konnyaku with miso and some vegi I don't quite remember (but was good). They were served quickly and hit the spot. The konnyaku wasn't quite as supple as I would have liked but the others made up for the shortcoming.
Grilled eggplant with miso
Next we have a perennial favourtie, grilled eggplant with sweet miso. It's not the most difficult dish to prepare and certainly less daring of an order, but I can't deny that there's something quite addictive about combination of the overpowering miso taste fused with the muted fleshy texture of the eggplant.
Deep fried oyster (Kaki Fry)
I wasn't really expecting much for this since many restaurants tend to use ready-made (read: frozen) oysters but surprisingly the ones at Tonikaku were either a) freshly made, or b) of higher ready-made quality as to mask its ready-madeness (terrible word so apologies). In any case, well worth the price.
Japanese Beef Liver Sashimi
On the other hand, I had seriously high expectations for this dish. No restaurant should serve beef liver sashimi without being confident in its quality and flavour. You'd be asking for a whole lot of trouble if anyone were to contract a disease so I didn't expect Tonikaku to take this dish lightly. Fortunately they came through, and the sashimi had a wonderfully subtle and clean (or better put, pure) taste of liver that no cooked liver could ever hope to match. I'll give a smiley face for this one.
Only towards the end did Tonikaku fail to impress. The fish cakes were below par (hard to do since they're ready-made) and the fried vegi was very average. Was it an off day? Perhaps, so I wouldn't discount them outright, but these are very basic dishes that should have been of higher quality.Conclusion
Overall, the meal was above my expectations and the always eccentric owner (he was wearing a Dragon Ball tshirt and sports an afro) entertained in just the right doses so a return visit is definitely warranted. If you're looking for a down-to-earth, authentic Japanese izakaya I would say Tonikaku stands out as somewhat of hidden gem. Give it a try.
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Mar 13, 2011
Spending per head: Approximately HKD200(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 4