Brad would probably not be fussed if we didn’t do anything for his birthday.
But why on earth would I give up an excuse to go out to have dinner together? Really?
When I told people of my plan to take him to dinner to Tokyo Tina, I got a lot of “Good Luck”. “Go early” and I have to admit…I was a little worried initially. I certainly ain’t keen to be doing a Chin Chin style queue for 3 hours, so had a whole lot of other potential restaurants in the area lined up in my head…just in case.
Fortunately, we were in Tokyo Tina on a Thursday night and the wait wasn’t long at all. We must have gotten there around 7:30pm and sent to a waiting spot at the bar, where we ordered a round of drinks and a nibble but before that could even get to us, we were seated at the bar. Not too bad if you ask me!
It’s quite nice sitting at the bar, a touch dark, but lit atmospherically and it’s always fun watching the bartenders to their thing.
I enjoyed a refreshing umeshu on the rocks to get me started, and got involved with some karaage chicken ribs with gochujang. For $10 the serving was generous, Brad and I getting around 3 ribs each. They weren’t super crunchy, but the batter was definitely full of flavour, and the chicken tender. Finger licking good.
The ocean trout sashimi that we had was a bit underwhelming unfortunately, although it looked beautiful, the citrus dressing it had over it completely overwhelmed the flavour of the trout, which I had always thought was pretty bold. In this instance it was completely overshadowed, and although I normally love trout, I have never had it sashimi-ed and wasn’t in love with the texture personally. I suppose there’s a reason the Japanese have always used Tuna and sashimi, which are incredibly smooth and velvety in texture, there was a bit of coarseness to the trout texture which I wasn’t completely sold on.
The tempura eggplant, miso chawanmushi and pickled ginger put everything back on track though, pumping with umami deliciousness. I loved that the eggplant got the tempura treatment, providing lovely crunchy textures through the otherwise soft textured dish, made it very moreish indeed!
My absolute favourite thing of the night though (which I’ve just realised is no longer on the menu…why guys why?!) was the king katsu, a 300 gram pork battered and fried cutlet with shredded cabbage some damn delicious plum sauce (or something along the lines). Oh my gosh. For $20, I would have returned for this along with a bowl of rice any night of the week. It was pretty much the size of my face, insanely and delightfully crunchy, but also so tender…when all combined with the sauce that it sat on…it was just pure perfection. So sad to now learn it’s no longer on the menu. (Please bring it back!)
To finish, we opted for ramen. I was quite excited to learn that they do provide a gluten free option, so we got one small bowl with gluten free ramen and one small bowl of regular so we could compare.
I got the classic ramen, with a tonkotsu (pork) base, pulled pork, ramen egg and spring onion and Brad got the miso ramen with miso base, shiitake, enoki and oyster mushrooms with a ramen egg.
Unfortunately, especially after coming back from Sydney and enjoying Ippudo’s delightful and cheap ramen, Tokyo Tina’s ramen did just not live up to much. My classic ramen’s soup base just had no flavour. I couldn’t believe it, whilst Brad’s had much more flavour than mine, but was still lacking and did not impress either of us. Believe me, we’re not usually difficult judges, and try as I might, I just could not enjoy the ramen.
Regardless though, even if we did finish on a bit of an unimpressive note, there was definitely some high notes that would keep me coming back. The smaller more fusion style dishes are definitely the way to go, and if that king katsu is back on the menu…I’ll be there in a flash. So short of the long, enjoy grilled stuff, skip the ramen!
66A Chapel Street