61 Grove Street off Seventh Avenue South
$30 each for four, with a bottle of sake, with tip
I love pigs’ feet. There I said it. I’ve caramelized them before with a tart salad and I’ve grilled them to serve at a summer barbecue party. Hakata Tonton worships the tonsoku. Hakata Tonton and I were made for each other.
The grilled version is so gelatinous, succulent and generously fatty, you can’t help but suck every part until you’re just spitting out the small bones. The hot pot comes with tofu, dumplings and pork belly, as if the trotters weren’t enough to make the broth rich and tasty.
There were four of us, hungry after a few glasses of wine and beer, so we didn’t just stay with the pork but also ordered the chicken wings in sweet soy sauce and the beef short ribs. We threw in the yellowtail sashimi salad in there for a palate cleanser. The yuzu paste and ponzu sauce were just perfect for slathering and dipping because they provided the right amount of kick in each dish. (When I was in Vancouver, I bought a few jars of yuzu paste from the Japanese grocery store to take home with me.)
A few beer and sake bottles later, we left full and a little tipsy. Our wallets weren’t empty and we were happy to be escorted out with free Pez candies from the waitress.