Hakata Ton Ton
61 Grove St.
Yes, Hakata Tonton's menu is all about pigs' feet — and if that doesn't scare you off, you'll be richly rewarded. This cozy West Village space would feel welcoming even without the extraordinary attentiveness of the staff, who greet you warmly at arrival and offer a quirky parting gift of Pez as you leave. In between, there's a wealth of Japanese soul food to be had, virtually all of which incorporate trotters in some way. Sauteed gyoza arrive sizzling on the platter, tuna sashimi salad is entree-size and peppered with savory bits of fried garlic. (Want even more allium? Try the fragrant but not overpowering garlic rice.) The pigs' feet themselves, tonsoku, come in a variety of preparations, all of which celebrate the gelatinous, bony cut, and are recommended to be eaten with the hands, as is Japanese custom. The showpiece of the menu is the Hakata Tonton hot pot, a meal in itself on this small-plates menu. It arrives at the table a good ten minutes before cooking is complete; watch it boil down into a delightful, salty, porky, bubbling mass, and then dive in. A perfect evening: you, a friend, that hot pot, and two Sapporos. And a Pez to go, of course.