Tokonoma by Toko is the CBD sister restaurant of the Surry Hills original. Hidden in the basement of a great old sandstone building with an unassuming entrance in a quaint laneway just off Bridge St, this gem offers some of the best modern Japanese food Sydney has to offer. Walking in, the sophisticated interiors boast elegance with a sleek bar where diners can enjoy a drink or watch the chefs at work. The beige sandstone walls match the light timber tables, with clear lines reverberated throughout the venue, instilling the refinement of taste and chic class that this classy Japanese establishment has to offer.The house signature drink of the Toko martini bears its own autographed flask embellished with the Toko label. Proving a fun addition to the mix, I opened the vessel pouring the pre-made mixture into my stylish martini glass, sipping on it slowly to absorb the diverse mix of flavours. The ideal pre-dinner tipple!
To begin we ordered the Hiramasa kingfish, truffle ponzu, pickled daikon, chives ($22). The perfectly light way to begin, the kingfish sashimi was fresh, melting on our tongue’s effortlessly. The truffle ponzu dressing paired flawlessly to the dish, with the kick of truffle reacting dreamily with the kingfish. Sprinkled with pickled daikon & chives, the acidity helped to cut through the dish, creating an impeccably balanced plate of delight.
I didn’t know what to expect with the New Zealand scampi nigiri, foie gras, truffle, soy jelly ($13 each). The plate included the whole body of the scampi which is served raw, and delivered sitting atop a small ball of rice. Initially I was sceptical at the raw scampi and what the flavor may be, but this was absolutely outstanding proving to be one of the best dishes of the entire evening! The scampi sashimi was topped with delicate shavings of creamy foie gras, a hint of truffle and sweet soy jelly. The shavings of foie gras melted on the tongue causing my taste buds to sing praises to the gods!
The other starter of the Toko sashimi salad, red velvet, cucumber, daikon ($24) presented a bowl of gorgeous greens filled with a mix of high grade sashimi such as kingfish, tuna, salmon with pickled daikon, cucumber and a light sprinkling of sesame seeds. It was a simple dish, however it allowed the sashimi to shine, highlighting its freshness and flavour.
One of my favourite vegetables is eggplant, so there was no way I was passing up the Eggplant, tama miso, aka miso ($14). A substantial portion of halved eggplant is grilled and crowned with a generous layer of two types of light and dark miso. Proving to be sweet and salty, the rich miso sauce sunk into the eggplant meat making it moist and flavor filled. The two stark misos drew a line down the middle of the eggplant creating a tantalising mix of miso goodness!
The Moreton Bay bug tempura, yuzu koshou mayonnaise, ponzu ($34) was a scrumptious dish of deep-fried goodness! Bits of bug meat were coated in a light batter, which was cooked to a golden deliciousness. The magnificent crunch of the hot crispy tempura alongside the creamy mayo was ridiculously good. Definitely the classiest and tastiest deep-fried bugs to boot!
We were unsure of whether to order the grilled baby cos, light wafu dressing, nori-truffle ($12), but it definitely proved to be a good decision. People don’t often imagine grilling this salad ingredient as a method of serving it up, but this cos certainly went down a treat. Crunchy, warm but light and refreshing, it was dressed in a sweet and salty wafu dressing, with delicious thin nori truffle scattered on top.Another unconventional but amazing dish of the evening was the Tajima wagyu beef cheeks, wasabi crème fraiche, bone marrow tempura ($38). Braised for hours, to yield an amazingly tender, juicy meat oozing fat and flavor, the incredible meat fell apart lusciously. The bone marrow tempura was crunchy and rich on a bed of wasabi infused crème fraiche. Pure decadence!
To finish we shared the Yamazaki sundae, coffee mousse, chocolate sorbet, honeycomb ($17). Presented in a deep glass on a bed of ice, a layer of smooth velvety coffee mousse sat on the bottom, followed by dark deep chocolatey sorbet, and finally whipped up cream with smatterings of chocolate shavings. I couldn’t really taste the namesake Yamazaki whisky anywhere in the mix, but I loved the entire dessert fighting with my counterpart for the last bit of dessert.
Tokonoma by Toko
44 Bridge St (entry via Loftus Lane), Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9251 8185
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Tokonoma Sydney