Before we went out to catch the final Harry Potter movie last night, my gf mentioned that she was in the mood for Tonkichi, the Singapore-based chain that in my experience does the most authentic tonkatsu in Hong Kong. I’m someone who truly loves this dish – I have several favorite spots for it in Tokyo. In case you don’t know, this is a breaded deep-fried pork loin, traditionally served with miso soup, cabbage, rice and Japanese pickles. In most of the places I’ve been to in Japan, you can ask for unlimited free refills on everything except the meat.
I thought Tonkichi only had one branch in Hong Kong (in Causeway Bay) but a quick check on Open Rice showed that they now have two branches in TST. Groovy. So after the movie, in one shopping mall, we walked over to another shopping mall, this one called THE ONE (yes, all in caps like that)(it might make more sense if this was at Number One Nathan Road but no, it’s Number 100).
But first, is it just me, or does Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui seriously suck really hard at night? Hordes of mainland tourists pushing and shoving, South Asian guys touting tailors and knock-off watches (and also offering hashish), all the rip-off electronics shops; it really doesn’t seem like much of a “Golden Mile” to me any more.
But we reached THE ONE (sigh) and made our way up to L4, which is really the 6th or 7th floor there after several levels of “UG” floors. Here’s the front of Tonkichi:
In typical Japanese fashion, their window is filled with displays of plastic food:
The above is the one I tend to order when I’m really hungry – a full serving of pork loin along with three fried shrimp. It’s a huge amount of food. Don’t let that $198 price fool you though – the price on their menu is $208. Hmmmm.
I also noticed in the window their huge help wanted poster and noted that the email address on it was for the Pokka Cafe. That brings to mind many questions. Are the folks behind Pokka Cafe also behind Tonkichi? Do they simply have the franchise for Hong Kong, or for just this single location, and if so, did they always have it or is this something recent?
At 9:30 on a Saturday night, there was still a line to get in – we ended up having roughly a 20 minute wait. We were handed the menu while waiting on line and asked to order before being seated. I’m not a big fan of this. The place closes at 10:30, last orders are at 10 and that meant that we were asked if we wanted to order “anything else” before we’d been served our original order.
One of the things Tonkichi does is give you a bowl of sesame seeds and a mortar – you can grind up the seeds and add them to the sauce for the meat.
But last night I wasn’t in the mood to work so hard so I just pushed the bowl off to the side.
When our order came, one pork loin set and one pork loin and shrimp set, they chose to put it on a single platter rather than two plates:
Even with the 23mm lens on my Fuji X100, I couldn’t get the entire platter in.
Now I don’t know if it’s just this particular location and I don’t know if it has anything to do with the Pokka Cafe bit, but despite the fact that this looked pretty much the same as always, the quality had literally dropped off a cliff from our previous visits. The pork had some gristle here and there and was completely dried out. The prawns were mushy, none of the bite that one expects and should get with these. I think the only thing I really enjoyed in this meal was the pickles.
To make matters even worse, just as I’m raising a chopstick filled with meat to my mouth, a waitress comes over and shoves the bill in my face and asks, “Would you mind to pay now?” Yes, I would mind indeed. This was one of those rare occasions when I’m in a sit down restaurant and decide that the obligatory 10% service charge is enough and I didn’t leave any additional tip.
We definitely won’t go back to this location. Perhaps the one in Causeway Bay is still okay.
Just outside the restaurant is a cosmetics vending machine. First one of these I’ve ever seen:
And after finishing our dinner, there were many other places in the mall that we might have chosen to go to. It was pretty easy to decide to not go to a place called Cocky Bar:
Actually we had been thinking about walking over to Temple Street to pick up some junk but given the weather last night and our bad mood following a bad meal, we just went straight home.