Tonchin (109 N. 3rd St.) is a new Japanese restaurant in Williamsburg that recently opened on July 13. The Sugeno family opened the first Tonchin restaurant in Tokyo in 1992, and they now own several throughout Asia.
Twenty five years after the opening of the first Tonchin, Anan Sugeno carried on his family’s legacy, opening a location in Midtown Manhattan. Tonchin, which means “come together” in Japanese, went on to receive a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, and has now opened its second New York-based location in Williamsburg.
Williamsburg’s General Manager Dylan Capello told Greenpointers that during the pandemic, guests stopped going to Tonchin’s Midtown location. After a little research, the team discovered that many of the regulars lived in Brooklyn.
“We realized we needed an outpost in Brooklyn. During the pandemic, people were not in Manhattan,” explained Capello.
The Tonchin team started by opening a pop-up in Bushwick in May of 2020. “We sold out on the first day,” said Capello, so the Tonchin pop-up continued for three more months. Capello said much of the menu focused on items that people could eat while walking down the street, like Tonchin’s shaved ice and cocktails.
After the success of the pop-up, the Brooklyn location was made permanent. The Williamsburg neighborhood was chosen because “it is central,” said Capello.
The Williamsburg location also got its own unique menu. “About 80% of the menu is different,” said Capello. “People deserve a thoughtful restaurant. There was no cut and paste.”
One of the best dishes, exclusive to Williamsburg, is the Shima-aji. It’s made with raw striped jack and anchovy puree in a green garlic sauce with chives and pistachio.
Capello also described a dessert made exclusively for the Williamsburg location in partnership with local Greenpoint tea brand, Kettl. It’s a tea-flavored panna cotta drizzled with local Williamsburg brand, Andrew’s Honey, and mint olive oil. “It’s full of flavor,” said Capello.
“We love the way Brooklyn comes together as a community, so we want to make local partnerships happen as much as we can,” stated Capello.
The remainder of Tonchin’s menu features tonkotsu ramen and Japanese-style wings. It also includes appetizers like Kyuri, with Parisian cucumber, sweet onion dressing and purple shiso, and oysters with umami clam jelly, grapefruit and kabosu mignonette, plus Yakitori options like a tsukune-chicken meatball skewer with tare-umami sauce, quail-egg yolk, and house-blend shichimi pepper.
Ramen options include the Tonchin classic Tokyo tonkotsu with housemade noodles, Tokyo tonkotsu broth, roasted chashu pork, nitamago egg, scallion, menma and nori seaweed, and the Spicy Tan Tan with homemade noodles, Tokyo tonkotsu broth, roasted chashu pork, nitamago egg, scallion, menma, cashew nuts and chili pepper.
In addition to the panna cotta, the dessert menu offers the pop-up’s popular shaved ice in flavors like ichigo with strawberry, strawberry sauce, honey cream and mint; mango with mango, mango sauce, honey cream and mint; and matcha with ceremonial grade matcha, matcha sauce, honey cream and asuki-sweet red bean.
One of the “most shocking” menu changes, according to Capello, is the decision to completely cut out the cocktail program and focus instead on natural wines. Capello told Greenpointers that the wine list currently includes about 90 bottles of natural wines from all over the world.
“We want to become a natural wine outpost,” explained Capello. Tonchin’s wine list includes funky and exciting wines that can challenge even people who are well versed in wine. “We want people to be excited when they look at the wine list,” the general manager said.
In addition to natural wines, the beverage program offers a selection of sake, tea and housemade sodas. The homemade non-alcoholic drinks include options like the Momo, with Japanese peach, fresh grapefruit, aka shiso syrup and aka shiso leaf, and the Suika, with watermelon, pomegranate syrup, angostura bitters and Hawaiian black sea salt.
Tonchin’s Williamsburg location includes 60 seats and was designed by Carpenter + Mason, who also worked on Talea. The minimalistic design features a lot of natural materials and textures with bold geometric elements.
Tonchin is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.