Another tip-free Japanese restaurant I found is Hakata Tonton. Tonton basically means pork dishes in a cute sounding way, and Hakata is one of the biggest cities in Japan located in Kyusyu Island. Hakata is also famous for Tonkotsu soup ramen.
I originally thought this was a ramen restaurant, however, I learned that Hakata Tonton specializes in Japanese hotpots with pork broth. Upon entering I noticed that every table ordered the hotpot – something that seemed very unique to me outside of Japan.
I dined alone and explored the different options available on the menu. I ordered potato salad with spicy caviar that was absolutely delicious. I love traditional Japanese potato salad, but this combination with caviar was unquestionably enjoyable. But in keeping with my original motivation to try this restaurant, I ordered Hakata-style stir-fried ramen noodles served on a bed of teppan, something that I have not found elsewhere in NYC. The dish was equally delightful!
Another unique point: like other well-known restaurants such as Ippudo and Hide Chan which originated in Kyushu, Hakata Tonton is promoting this type of Hakata style as a “Southwest Japanese” variety. I am glad to see this as New Yorkers and others are able to learn that Japan has a vast array of regional specialties.
Price: $29.4 for my selection, no tip required
Neighborhood: West Village
Dress code: Casual
Dining alone: Counter available, but I would suggest coming with others to try the hotpot
Takeout: yes, even for hotpot dishes