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Tokyo Tina is like a metaphor for the transformative power of Melbourne's restaurant scene. Take one old bong shop on Chapel St (not even a good bong shop), add Simon Blacher, Paul Nguyen and Nic Coulter from the juggernaut Commune Group, and simmer in a wok over a low heat. The result? Tokyo Tina. The third alliterative foodie sibling to join Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally (RIP). That's one tasty family right there.
Along with Hanoi Hannah, Hawker Hall and (probably) Sash Japanese, Tokyo Tina is one of Windsor's 'it' restaurants. Seriously, it doesn't matter if it's a sub-zero Tuesday in June, this place will be pumping. In fact especially so, ever since chef Scott Lord got his mitts on a 'Bradley Smoker' over Easter. Now he's pumping out lunch bowls of epic smoked brisket ramen. Just what you want as Melbourne slides into another bleak winter, full of long coats and despair.
The fit-out of Tokyo Tina is half the charm. You could be in a crumbling building behind a pachinko parlour in Shinjuku or something. The walls are classic Windsor scuffle, with timber beams and inky Tokyo illustrations covering the remaining space. Green tiles on the bar, some samurai-looking Japanese knives magnetised to the wall, and sake bottles hidden in various nooks and crannies—yep, this is Japanese stying at its best.
These days you can still pick from a mix of Hibachi grill regulars (chicken yakitori with spring onion is a no-brainer), bao buns stuffed with crispy avocado or DIY pork belly, or larger plates like Okonomiyaki pancakes (drizzled in a wicked yuzu aioli) or crispy pork hock with ssamjang. It's all glorious, delicious chaos, and Windsor locals can't get enough.
If Godzilla ever does invade Melbourne, this is where he's coming for dinner. Kanpai!
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis