I feel very fortunate to have finally dined at the infamous Tonka. This fusion-Indian restaurant has been waiting to be ticked off on my list for a long time, ever since trying out their sister restaurant Coda. The family and I went to Tonka to celebrate my mum’s birthday and even though it was a Thursday, all the tables were fully booked that night.
Meals here are designed to be shared and each one offers a unique combination of flavours. We were given a choice of ordering dishes ourselves or placing trust in our server on the night to surprise us with their choice of food. Adventurously, we opted for the latter and I’d suggest anyone to do so if you have no idea where to start!
The starters arrived two at a time and were perfectly portioned for the four of us.
#1: Pani puri, crispy parcel filled with spiced potato, mung beans, date and tamarind chutney with aromatic water
I really enjoyed this one! The pastry shell was light and had a good crunch to it. My favourite thing about this starter was the curried flavour of the spiced potatoes. I find that these kinds of flavours are always appetizing.
#2: Tuna tartare, rice pappadum, pomegranate, ginger and fresh wasabi
This was a very exciting starter which I found was really great for getting my taste buds going. The balance of acidity and then the saltiness from the pappadum, followed by the refreshing bursts from the pomegranate made me visualize mini fireworks going off in my mouth.
#3: Oysters and betel leaf
I liked that the batter was very light and the oysters tasted fresh – even if you aren’t an oyster person, give this a go as it is a different experience from eating natural fresh oysters.
#4: Five spice calamari with squid ink boondi, celery, pickled onion and avocado raita
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of this one 🙁
Though I tend to stay away from calamari as I find it can require a lot of effort to chew if you get a bad batch, this one at Tonka was simple and easy to eat. I wasn’t overly impressed by it, especially after trying the other starters we had. If you had to pick between two, I would personally recommend going for something that you probably wouldn’t find on the menu anywhere else.
#5: Mangalorean style spicy pippies, coconut and fennel
I often find that pippies served in other restaurants (but mind you, not so fancy) come with about 20-30% of them being empty shells. We didn’t have this issue at Tonka. Overall, it was a good dish but I didn’t find it outstanding as the flavours weren’t as bold or as captivating as their other dishes.
#6: Pappadums with kachumber
A simple but great starter. Probably could have done without it though as we were already served another dish that came with papadums.
#7: Avani’s lamb curry with roasted coconut, black cardamom and white poppy seeds
The lamb was cooked really tender, to the point where it just fell apart nicely and didn’t require much effort to chew. One downside to this dish was that it needed a bit more of a kick. When I think curry, I think of a dish packed with spices and flavour. In this case, it tasted great but could have done with some heat.
#8: Brussel sprouts poriyal
Being completely honest here, I had never tried brussel sprouts before. I know that this vegetable is notorious for being disliked, so I wasn’t expecting to be blown away. However, it tasted surprisingly good – a pretty strong salty flavour and a hint of bitterness. Whilst I was munching away, I happened to bite down on something that tasted like straight up black liquorice. It was very overpowering and because the restaurant was so dark I couldn’t really see what else was in the dish. I’m not a fan of black liquorice (though mango liquorice is like my favourite thing ever!) and felt that leaving that in there was rather unpleasant to bite down on.
#9: Tonka’s butter chicken
This was cooked beautifully! Super tender, tasty, and not dry at all.
+ Paired all the mains with a side of India Gate basmati rice
#10: Green apple bergamot Bombe Alaska with caramelised puffed rice
So small, but so delicious 🙂 This was their one dairy free option on the menu and it was the most refreshing and exciting dessert I’ve ever had! The light crunch of the puffed rice complimented the softer textures on the plate really well. The green apple flavour was prominent but not overbearing, which helped to maintain the brightness and airiness of the dessert.
#11: Coffee kulfi, brownie, rum raisin, coco crumb and mandarin sorbet
This sounded amazing and I was so tempted to order it for myself. My dad ordered it and it was positive remarks all the way. I was trying to get a better photo of it, and because the darkness of the restaurant was not working with me, my dad tilted the candle on our table toward the dessert and allowed me to take that second photo. We were all busy eyeing the food and one second later, the melted wax spills out of the candle holder and onto the table … I swear, we leave a mess everywhere we go! 😛
Tonka is a highly recommended place to dine if you’re looking for something different and feeling adventurous. It’s popular for work dinners/lunches, dates, or special events – regardless, the more people you go with, the more dishes you will get to try 🙂