One of my colleagues in the partition job was recently disappointed out of a trip to Melbourne. Before I left on Thursday afternoon, I attempted to console her.
‘Don’t be envious,’ I said. ‘I won’t be doing any shopping- well hardly any shopping…just Christmas presents, really…no fun shopping. And I won’t be eating anywhere really nice. It’ll be street food all the way this trip. Really, it will be…’
I lied. Although, there were elements of the food that we had at Tonka that could possibly have come from a street food vendor… the fried cauliflower, garam masala salt, fenugreek and yoghurt dressing…maybe? No?
Ok, I lied…
Tonka. We found it accidentally- hidden off Flinders Lane, down Duckboard Place, just where the rows and rows of dirty trainers are strung up. Hang on, didn’t strung up trainers mean something else? Best not to get started on that train of thought. Anyways, we were following AC/DC Lane, walking off a Chin Chin lunch, looking for new street art, just chatting about where we’d like to go for dinner, when we saw the name. I commented how it sounded like a toy truck, my friend said it sounded Japanese…as luck would have it, they had a table available for dinner. Far from being a toy truck or Japanese, Tonka is Indian inspired, but nothing like the burning ring of vindaloo fire you might have sampled down at the local takeaway- not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course… It’s Indian, with a twist away from the traditional. It’s fresher, it’s lighter, it’s creative, and it’s flipping good. We started with cocktails- mine was a luscious combination of rum, pineapple and Campari…my friend had something with pomegranate seeds and black salt…yes, I should have written it down. This was followed by three “small plates” to share between the three of us: Spanner crab salad with puffed rice, green papaya, peanuts, coriander and green chilli Chargrilled Western Plains pork belly, chickpea, pork crackling and pickled radish Hunter Valley beef rib Vindaloo, cucumber, pineapple and pickled radish Just before the beef came out, the sommelier came out to talk about the wine. So what, I hear you ask…he’d checked our menu choices and discussed specific choice that would work with what was to come.
Riesling with vindaloo? Actually, yes, it worked. What came next were the bigger plates: Avani’s lamb curry with roasted coconut, black cardamom and white poppy seeds Rajasthani duck, cucumber, mint and buffalo milk curd The afore-mentioned fried cauliflower (seriously good and something I’m going to try to replicate at home), raita, pappadums and naan (to mop up the gravy) rounded off our meal.
Service: Just great
Will I tell everyone else how great it is? Ummmm, I think I’ve just done that!