Say hello to Tokyo Tina, the Japanese sister to the Vietnamese restaurants Hanoi Hannah and Saigon Sally. The place is overwhelming decorated with Japanese pop culture decor that mixes up a lot of the old school signs with a Bruswick-esque feel. Despite this, Tokyo Tina takes an off centre approach to Japanese cuisine. The restaurant was designed initially to be a walk-in restaurant only however the place does allow for bookings to be made for groups of 6 or more.

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One of the thing I immediately noticed from the menu was that there were no sushi or rice dishes at all. Although Tokyo Tina places it’s emphasis on serving Japanese cuisine, there are influences from other Asian cultures.

Having no idea what Tokyo Tina aimed to be before my visit at the time, I was quite confused with the restaurant’s concept. I couldn’t quite figure if I was meant to have an authentic Japanese dining experience or not.

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Inside the restaurant, the energetic vibe and bustling atmosphere makes it a good place to chill out with mates and hang out. But maybe not so much for a quiet and romantic dinner. It helped a lot that staff were both friendly and helpful throughout the night.

2015-03-13 Tokyo Tina (5a)Wombok roll (4pcs) $12.00
Kale, quinoa and toasted nori puree

The wombok roll is like your vegan sushi roll except that it’s rolled in wombok instead of nori. Kale and quinoa gives the wombok roll a lot of crunch, while the toasted nori puree marries all the textures and flavours together.

2015-03-13 Tokyo Tina (6)Crispy avocado bao $6.00 each
w/gochujang and pickled ginger

From the pillowy bao encasing crisp and creamy piece of avocado. The pickled ginger added some tang against the spice kick from the gochujang sauce. Not quite Japanese, but it was really good.

2015-03-13 Tokyo Tina (7a)Miso mushroom ramen $14.00
w/ shitake, enoki, oyster mushrooms and soft boiled egg

The miso mushroom ramen had a surprisingly deep umami flavoured broth. It was nothing I had ever tasted before but in a good way. Served with fresh enoki mushrooms, a generous serving of shitake and small oyster mushrooms, this ramen bowl was very satisfying. The noodles were not overcooked and had a good bite to them while the soft boiled egg added a nice creaminess to the deep broth.

2015-03-13 Tokyo Tina (8b)New Hokkaido crab ramen $21.00
w/ Blue crab, pickled bamboo, corn and chilli

My friend and I both found that the Hokkaido crab ramen’s broth was too overpowering in such a way that all the other components of the dish ended up being dissolved away by the heaviness of the broth. It was spicy and a whole mix of flavours that neither of us was used to combined together.

2015-03-13 Tokyo Tina (9a,10)Tokyo Banana (left) $10.00 Banana mousse, salted caramel parfait & macaron

Yoyogi Beer (right) $8.00 Ginger beer jelly, ginger panna cotta, pineapple white miso sorbet

I was actually expecting some sort of banana mousse and caramel parfait with a macaron on the side to be honest. Not a macaron in the shape of a banana. It should have just been name Tokyo Banana macaron instead. Although it was not what I had expected the cold macaron still had a nice flavour to it.

The ginger ale panna cotta on the other hand was difficult for either of us to stomach. The black sesame sugar crisp was quite nice and encouraging but as soon as we took a little taste of the ‘foam’ part, we found ourselves making weird faces at each other. We discovered then that beer flavoured desserts are not our thing. The ginger beer jelly was more palatable, but then again that beer aftertaste really put us off and we could not finish it.

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After having dinner, I left Tokyo Tina feeling confused. The food was good for the most part and staff were attentive and friendly throughout the evening. Having been opened for less than two months, some kinks need to be flattened out from the menu.

If you’re looking for a traditional or even contemporary dining experience that is more Japanese than selectively fusion, then Tokyo Tina may not be the right place for you. However if you’re all for experimenting with new Japanese inspired food with the odd authentic dish here and there, then by all means check them out.

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