I responded to your earlier post and was wondering why it got removed...such a mystery...anyway...
I tried hakata Tonton once but it was a small meal because it was totally unplanned and I already had dinner. I tried the grilled tonsoku in plain form with salt, which turned out to be my favorite. Also tried the tonsoku consumme which was good with some vinegary flavor. The shumai were big but the flavor was subtle. Texture-wise it was quite interesting.
I am definitely going to go back and try out more "bigger" tonsoku dishes, such as the braised ones and those with rice or hot pot.
Thanks to your posts, I visited Hakata tonton last night and had the following:
Grilled tonsoku with salt: Very flavorful, lovely slightly crunchy skin
Shumai: More visual than taste, with the large dumplings covered with some fatty skin and a toe nail sticking out. The dumplings lacked salt, so liberal doses of soy sauce was needed
Nimono with sweet potato: Very comforting and simple
Hotpot: Tasted very korean with the go chu jang like base providing sweetness and some lingering heat. The broth's consistent got increasingly sticky as the fats and skin dissolved into the soup providing a good mouthfeel. I love how all the veges made the dish look healthy.
Bibimbap: co-opting another korean dish, with rice blended with the remainders of the hotpot and some chives cooked in the same stone pot. Leave the rice on for a longer time for more crunchy bits.
Beware: the very expensive tea. Whilst the server did tell me they charged for tea, I wasn't expecting $16 for 4 small cups of tea (refills were additional).
With pork belly being de rigeur now, pork trotters may not be as scary sounding as people think. Wish them luck.
I'd have to say that the pig ears are a must to avoid. They are flavorless, gelatinous AND crunchy. Just disgusting.
Pretty good: the "tonsoku simply grilled with salt" comes with this amazing citrus-infused salt. The tonsoku gyoza served on a sizzling platter and peperoncino pasta with garlic, bacon and tonsoku are very good, but kind of tame. The pasta comes in a huge portion (I split it with my boyfriend... too much food for one person!).
The "rare cheesecake" is not to be missed! They serve it in a coffee cup, it has no crust. Instead, it's basically congealed butterfat with a consistency a little like cottage cheese. It made my eyes cross, it was so good. However, I could feel it instantly padding my thighs.
Pig's feet heaven!
Tonsoku simply grilled with salt: AWESOME. Even my b/f who's not into "interesting" cuts of meat liked this dish.
Shumai: Toe/claw sticking out of dumpling might put some people off... but it's delicious. I don't think it's covered with a layer of fatty skin. Need to be dipped in the ponzu sauce that comes with it.
Consomme: Intense porky flavor, like a concentrated hakata ramen broth. Thick, rich but refined.
Meatballs: Doesn't really highlight/feature tonsoku... Still pretty good.
Hot Pot: Too sweet. I would not get this again. The sweet broth overpowered everything...