The ToKa 10

After our interview last month with Chef Tony Kang aka Chef ToKa, we decided to take a trip to his restaurant Swallow in Huntington, NY.  Our initial thought was to let the host know we were there in hopes that we could meet Chef Tony briefly and squeeze in a few minutes of conversation since we did not want to disturb him while he was busy in the “back of the kitchen” cooking meals for everyone.

Well, the first thing you notice when you walk inside Swallow is that the “back of the kitchen” is actually right at the front of the house, where anyone passing by can peek in through the window. In full view is Chef Tony’s kitchen alongside the bar and we were fortunate enough to have great seats to watch him in action. Chef Tony greeted us and told us not to bother ordering from the menu because he had a special dinner prepared for us. We could not wait!

While waiting for what Chef Tony had in stored for us, we chatted with Ryan, the friendly manager at Swallow. We asked him about the concept behind Swallow and he said “We want to make the experience here like you are eating at home with us. The kitchen is where all the fun happens at home and we want it to be the same here.” With the small intimate setting (seats 22 people), dim lighting, a hutch filled with cookbooks like The Joy of Cooking and TV’s on the wall, it felt exactly like that. The restaurant features a small plates menu, which allows diners to try a variety of selected dishes at the same time.  In fact, the menu changes on a weekly basis so there is always something new and delicious to try.

When Chef Tony said he had a special dinner prepared for us, he was not lying! He prepared a tremendous 10-course meal (Yes 10) for us that we are still thinking about today. Here is what we had:

Butternut Squash Cappuccino Soup, Truffle Froth with a glass of white wine to start
Fresh Mozzarella, Pesto, Vine Tomato
Roasted Beets, Homemade Ricotta Cheese, Local Honey Drizzle
Crispy Calamari, Sweet & Spicy Glaze, Scallions, Chopped Peanuts
“Beef & Broccoli” – NY Strip Tataki, Fried Broccoli, Sweet Soy, Spice Crispies
Cauliflower Pizza: English Pea Pesto, Pancetta, Aged Parm, Lemon Zest
Roasted Mushroom Salad: Pork Belly, Carrots, Asparagus, Pistachio Puree
Fish Tacos – Pickled Red Onion, Tomato, Cilantro
Pork Spare Ribs, Ginger Caramel, Peanuts, Scallions (left); the Toka Bo Ssam (center)
Creme Brulee, Nutella Bread Pudding and Flourless Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Mousse

One word sums up the entire dinner prepared by Chef Tony: DELICIOUS! The soup was creamy and tasty; appetizers were extremely enjoyable; meat portions were tender and juicy; vegetables tasted fresh and the scrumptious dessert was a fitting way to conclude dinner. Each plate was full of flavor and prepared with Chef Tony’s individual style and creativity. Overall, just a memorable meal!

Between our conversations with Ryan and periodic interactions with Chef Tony as he cooked, we felt that we had known them for years and really were having dinner inside their home.  We even had the pleasure of meeting and briefly interacting with the owner, Julie Tchinnis.  All were warm, charismatic and humorous and created a truly comfortable atmosphere in which we were able to enjoy our dinner.

If you are ever in Huntington, NY, make sure to stop by Swallow Restaurant. It’s a great place with even better people and food! We will definitely be making a return trip to Huntington in the near future and possibly check out their restaurant in Montauk before the summer is over. If you decide to go, make sure to RSVP in advance because the place fills up very quickly.  Tell them Foodie Pleasure sent ya!

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