Hakata Tonton and Koji Hagihara
I had additional great meal at Hakata Tonton two nights ago. Hakata Tonton is a casual Japanese restaurant in West village where chef Koji Hagiwara serves up delicious pork dishes (there are, of course, non-pork dishes, including sashimi), including must-try hot pot dishes (all pork). The menu at Hakata Tonton is extensive. In order to enjoy all of the items on the menu you need to make many trips. Even after ten or so visits I never got bored or tired with his meal. After each meal I rather am already thinking of when to come back next. A chat with Chef Koji revealed that he has just celebrated 5 years at Hakata Tonton. Chef Koji was brought in as an executive chef for Chef Yuji Wakiya’s fancy, modern Chinese restaurant at the Gramercy Park Hotel in Chelsea. After the failure and closure of this Japanised Chinese restaurant (whose concept is highly appreciated in Japan, though), he moved on and has been shining at Hakata Tonton.
The name of the restaurant, Hakata Tonton. Hakata is the name of the ward in Fukuoka City, a capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, a northern shore of the Kyushu Island of Japan. Kyushu island is known for good quality pork. Because of its geography – close to Korea and China – , since early times, the island received strong culinary influence from its neighbor, China, where pork is one of the primary, favored ingredients. Ton means pig in Japanese. Tonton is a repetition of pig.