Tonka – Indian Malaysian Fusion Food

panda-3-5-rating2

For Dad’s birthday I decided to take my family out to a new restaurant called Tonka. Being of a Sri-Lankan background I was so excited to hear about a new restaurant that was specialising in Sri Lankan flavours. Tonka comes to you by the team behind the fantastic restaurant – Mykal and Kate Batholomew together with Adam D’Sylva. The location is in one of the iconic laneways of Melbourne and is where Honky Tonks used to reside. The team has transformed this space into an elegant and modern space (and the name even pays tribute to the former venue).

The venue itself is split into three separate areas – there is a bar – allows people to sit on high tables where you can order a drink from the extensive drink menu and have bar snacks., followed by the formal restaurant area (where you can make bookings) and then a more casual restaurant style bar area, with large windows which over look Flinders St – where restaurateurs don’t need to make a booking to enjoy the full menu. Despite these three different areas, they are all seamless and you really don’t feel the difference in any of the areas.

As you walk into the restaurant you are greeted by friendly staff that are very happy to assist you. We had a booking in the formal restaurant which was located in the middle section. We walked past the open kitchen which was lined with colourful jars of spices and other condiments. There is a real wow factor that you get as you step in the doors of Tonka. There are distressed walls and the definite wow factor is the art installation by Naomi Troski – which his featured on the ceiling – white twists of mesh that remind you of clouds in a dramatic sense.

The menu is inspired by the unique range and variety of flavours from southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The executive chef is Adam D’Sylva and the Head Chef is Michael Smith together with Mumbai born sous chef Ved Navghare. The menu is accentuated by two tandoor ovens which definitely add and enhance the brilliant flavours of each dish – such as tandoori meats, fish and naan.

I arrived before the rest of my fam, so I ordered the Tonka take on the traditional Lassi drink (there are two options the alcoholic version which has Rum as well as a non-alcoholic version) – I opted for the non-alcoholic version which consisted of mango, rose and the addition of pistachio nuts. The lassi was one of the better lassi’s that I have tasted – a great starter drink!

Once the rest of the fam arrived we settled on our order – we ordered two entrée’s, two mains, a side, naans and rice.

The first entrée we had was the Pani Puri – crispy parcel filled with spiced potato and lentils, date and tamarind chutney served with mango infused aromatic water. For some reason the idea in my head of what a Pani Puri was, was different to what arrived at our table. These Pani Puri were cute (yes, I know it’s a weird way to describe food, but seriously that’s what they were). Our waiter presented this dish to us and then poured some of the aromatic water and said that was to enhance the flavours and not to leave it to get too soggy before you ate it. These were delicious and the only downside was that the dish was so small. The potato and lentils were perfectly flavoured and the data and tamarind chutney added the sourness. The aromatic water on its had a pleasant sourness taste to it as well. The next entrée we ordered was the Spanner Crab Salad with puffed rice, green mango, peanuts, coriander and green chilli. This was another stand out dish that all the fam enjoyed! It had a bit of a hint of what a Thai dish would represent and all the flavours were infused together really well. My only criticism was that the puffed rice to me didn’t have as much crunch as I would have liked it to have.

For mains we ordered the Goan Fish Curry and Hiramasa Kingish from the Tandoor. The Goan Fish Curry when it came out was this richly coloured curry that came not only with fish, but had additional seafood as well – King Prawns and Mussels, as well veggies (beans). This was a great surprise as we weren’t expecting this. The Kingfish from the tandoor was hands-down my favourite dish. The kingfish was perfectly cooked and had the smoky tandoori flavours with the right salt levels and spice added to it. It was served with another asian influenced salad that added to making the balance of flavours complete. This is a definite must try dish when you come to Tonka. We also had the Fried Cauliflower, Garam Masala Salt, Fenugreek and Yoghurt Dressing as a side – yet another winner of a dish. The mix of cauliflower, garam masala and fenugreek had a strong taste to it, yet it wasn’t overpowering and the addition of the yoghurt lightened these flavours.

When you get your mains, you are also given the Tonka version of a Raita (Yoghurt Sauce) where they have added pomegranate pieces. I loved this idea as one of my favourite yoghurts is pomegranate yoghurt =) You also get a chilli sauce if you need more spice added to your dish. I wasn’t a huge fan of this second sauce.

Next up was dessert – we orderd the Saffron baked meringue, strawberry, pistachio and rose water and orderd Tonka’s Gulab Jamun with saffron syrup and silver leaf. I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with either of these desserts. I have eaten Gulab Jamun’s better and say your local Indian takeaway restaurant and at $6 per ball, I expected much more. I didn’t like the texture or the flavour of the Gulab Jamun. The other dessert we ordered was the Saffron Baked Meringue and I was expecting the meringue to be crunchier on the outside than it was. The flavours however were quite nice – the mixture of the strawberry, pistachio ice cream and rose water together with the tang and sourness of the pomegranate seeds.

Tonka is a great addition to the Melbourne laneway culture, and the team have created a warm, welcoming and cosy area that overlooks some of the great tourist spots. The food is flavoursome and hold true to the authentic flavours together with a modern twist. The use of the tandoor ovens definitely needs to be tried out by one and all. If you are a fan of Coda (or even if you haven’t tried out Coda) you will definitely find a new favourite in this place.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte menu – can be viewed at http://www.tonkarestaurant.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Food-Menu-10-4-13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Has a wow factor, and is a great place to catch up for a drink with friends or have a celebration dinner. The lighting and decor makes the place feel warm, cosy and comfortable.
Standout Dish: Hiramasa Kingfish from the Tandoor
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful.
Online Booking: No, but you can call up the restaurant to make  a booking in their formal sit down area, or you can just walk-in
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tonkarestaurant.com.au
20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 3155

Opening Hours:
Open for Lunch Monday to Friday
Open for Dinner Monday to Saturday

Tonka on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Stokehouse – Beachside Beauty with Divine Food!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

– John Dory Fillet, Hickory Smoked Clams, Banana Chillies, Baby Onions, Carrot Purée
– King Prawn and Bug Tortellini, Smoked Tomato, Peas, Baby Gem Lettuce, Saffron and Shellfish Veloute
– Seared Magret Duck Breast and Leg Pastillas, Poached Rhubarb and Fennel Salad, Garlic Purée, Smoked Kaiser
– Crispy Chicken with Pancetta, Mushrooms and Greens
– Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse and Nougat Crunch, Salted Caramel, Honeycomb, Malt Ice Cream
– The Bombe – Frozen White Chocolate Parfait with Strawberry Sorbet and Toasted Meringue

The Stokehouse has the perfect location setting with views overlooking St Kilda beach. There are two parts to this restaurant – the Upstairs which is the elegant more stylish part and the Downstairs Bar & Grill which is a more casual setting and serves pizzas, pastas etc – perfect place for a casual catch up with friends all year round. The Bar & Grill is currently closed for renovations and will open up in November 2012. A new Stokehouse Cafe is coming soon as well – keep checking back to their site or follow them at Twitter to find out more information (@Stokehouse). Stokehouse menus are created by executive chef Anthony Musara and head chef Oliver Gould, and represent the best of Modern Australian fine dining.

My friends and I headed to Stokehouse Upstairs for Dinner and it was the first time there for all of us. We were shown to our tables by our friendly waiter. The place is decked out in white but in a classy and elegant manner. There is a balcony which overlooks the beach, where you can have some casual drinks before retreating to your table. The view is not only relaxing but calming. We ordered the King Prawn and Bug Tortellini, Smoked Tomato, Peas, Baby Gem Lettuce, Saffron and Shellfish Veloute as an Entree to share. The home-made pasta parcels were fresh and cooked perfectly. Even though in the picture there appears to be a lot of “foam” aka Veloute, there wasn’t. The mixture of King Prawn and Bug was flavoursome and together with the other elements of the dish worked perfectly. My main was the John Dory Fillet, Hickory Smoked Clams, Banana Chillies, Baby Onions, Carrot Purée. The combination of the Fish and the Smoked Clams were fantastic and dipped in the carrot purée created a smoky sweet mixture. The presentation of all the dishes had a touch of elegance and even though there were so many elements present on the plate. The dishes weren’t too cluttered, and the use of white plates enhanced the fresh colour of all the ingredients.

Next was my favourite course – DESSERT! I had read about The Bombe – as it the most talked about dessert at the Stokehouse and has been a feature on their menu for a very long time, and it sure did not disappoint. It comes standing proudly in the centre of the plate – a cross-section of frozen white chocolate parfait, strawberry sorbet on a sponge base encircled by a thick layer of blow-torched meringue, which taste like clouds in your mouth. It is simply delicious and you find yourself savouring every mouthful. The strawberries that come to the side don’t even need to be there, the Bombe on its on is all you need. The other dessert we had was the Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse and Nougat Crunch, Salted Caramel, Honeycomb, Malt Ice Cream. This was pretty spectacular as well – the mousse was light and fluffy and together with the salted caramel and honeycomb somewhat offset the powerful chocolate taste. I have never had malt ice cream before, so this was a nice addition.

The Stokehouse to put it simply has great food, wine, service, ambience and views which makes for a memorable dining experience no matter what time of day you go. You can catch the sunset or even just enjoy the night time view of the sea.

Note: The restaurant upstairs can acommodate up to 135 guests seated for an a la carte meal or up to 300 standing for cocktails. Exclusive use of the restaurant space is suitable for wedding ceremonies or any other special occasion.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – A la Carte – can be found online
Upstairs at http://www.stokehousemelbourne.com.au/upstairs/,
Bar&Grill – http://www.stokehousemelbourne.com.au/bar-grill/.
All new Stokehouse Cafe coming soon – http://www.stokehousecafe.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Stylish yet casual and has lovely views. Great for a dinner with friends, a private function like a wedding (where you can hire out the entire Stokehouse Upstairs) or for date night.
Standout Dish:
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive. Stokehouse is known for their great service and they didn’t disappoint when we went there.
Online Booking: Yes via website –
Upstairs – http://www.stokehousemelbourne.com.au/upstairs/,
Bar&Grill – http://www.stokehousemelbourne.com.au/bar-grill/.
All new Stokehouse Cafe coming soon – http://www.stokehousecafe.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.stokehousemelbourne.com.au/
30 Jacka Bvd, St Kilda
Tel No: 9525 5555

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Monday to Saturday: 12pm – 2:30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 6pm-10.30pm

Stokehouse (Upstairs) on Urbanspoon