The gist: Following the recent trend of Japanese chains like Ikinari Steak, Ichiran, Naoki and E.A.K. Ramen invading NYC, Tonchin is the latest interloper from the land of the rising sun — making its NYC debut in Midtown on November 15. A Tokyo-based chain with 16 locations throughout Japan, Taiwan and Shanghai, Tonchin mixes traditional Japanese fare with inventive cocktails and a modern design aesthetic.
The food: Expect from-scratch, elevated takes on familiar dishes like Tokyo tonkotsu ramen (the house specialty), dumplings, karaage and nambutekkiyakki plates named for the nambu tekki iron griddle they are cooked and served on.
Appetizers range from a bright, refreshing octopus and avocado salad with wasabi shoyu dressing to delicately crispy spicy chicken wings. Also of note are the steamed pork belly kakuni buns and pan-fried ginger gyoza.
Ramen bowls feature house noodles that are made fresh daily and include the classic Tokyo tonkotsu (pork broth, roasted pork, egg, scallion, menma, seaweed), spicy tan tan (pork broth, roasted pork, egg, scallion, menma, crushed peanuts, miso, chili pepper, oyster) and “uoton” smoked dashi (pork broth, egg, smoked fish oil, clams, tobiko, mizuna leaf, yuzu peel).
The drinks: When it comes to libations Tonchin leans more experimental, with concoctions like the Pink Lady (gin, grenadine syrup, yuzu, lavender, egg white, lemon), Wasabi Vodka Tonic (wasabi vodka, tonic water, lime) and Hinoki Big Apple (Hinoki and Helix vodka, pear syrup, apple comfort). The theatrical smoked matcha cocktail made with premium matcha, Helix vodka and vanilla is topped with fresh whipped cream before being placed underneath a glass cloche and smoked. It’s served with a glass of Lustau ‘Pedro Ximenez’ San Emilio sherry to be poured over top (pictured above).
The space: Designed by Carpenter + Mason (previous projects include Seamore’s and several Van Leeuwen locations), the 60-seat izakaya is contemporary in feel, with clean lines and bold geometric accents including shallow ceramic lampshades made from a Brooklyn-based artisan and a sleek custom-made marble top bar. The bathrooms are lined with a striking noodle-inspired wallpaper designed by Brooklyn-based studio LMNOP.
The details: 13 W. 36th St. Limited hours and menu during soft open; at full launch open every day 11:30AM–3PM and 4PM–11PM.