What is it about Tonka that consistently makes it appear in my top 5 restaurants of Melbourne? Could it be the enchanting venue that makes whimsical and class coexist perfectly in the one room. Or perhaps it's their incredible staff who treat the art of serving with the precision and coordination required of the American ballet. Or is it the food - their mind blowing, incredibly delicious, modern take on Indian cuisine. Whatever it is, a night at Tonka is guaranteed to impress and it was the perfect venue for the very special occasion of my girlfriend's 30th.
On the evening we went, the stars of the show were without a doubt the butter chicken and the palak paneer gnudi with pine nuts and lemon pickle. I know what you're thinking - 'you can get butter chicken anywhere' - but this butter chicken was the cream of the crop - the Kim of the Kardashians. Rich and full of flavour, it was a dish worth licking the bowl for. And the palak paneer gnudi - well let's just say I'd happily turn vegetarian if it meant I could eat a bowl of this every night. These soft, moist (sorry moist haters!) but fluffy parcels were an absolute textual and flavour delight.
The ugly duckling of the night was the dal with black lentils. Whilst still a delicious dish full of fragrant flavours - this runt of the pack brought back memories of the mud pies I used to make as a child.
However, if the dal was the ugly duckling of the night, the pani puri and the duck korma with apple and vanilla spiced beetroot was the majestic elegant white swan. Exquisitely delicate, the pani puri still surprisingly packed a punch and the duck was cooked to perfection.
The highlight of the night for the desert lovers was, well, with no surprise the deserts. But I must admit, these desert lovers were definitely onto something as both the carrot halwa and the coque meringue came out looking like Picasso masterpieces, with tastes to back up their looks.
Tonka has found the perfect formula to make your occasion feel special, but casual - fine dining, but in comfort - exquisite food, that still fills you up and leaves you feeling completely and utterly satisfied. Okay, okay so I'm starting to sound a bit like a 1990s love song - but you get the point - this place should be number 1 on the to do list, which is what scores itself the title of the new fave.
And a very special thanks to the mother of the birthday girl who very generously took us out for this very special evening.
Verdict: The New Fave - put it as number 1 on the To do list