Since being introduced to Tokonoma by Mark Communications, I have strangely been finding myself at Toko (Tokonoma's sister restaurant) for birthdays, date nights, and other outings. The trendy decor, delectable drinks and top-notch menu makes it the perfect place for many things.
Before I go on, for those who aren't familiar with the Toko restaurants, I'll just clarify that there are three establishments. Toko Restaurant & Bar is an izakaya style dining experience, where as Toko Paddington is a classier version of sushi train. Then there's Tokonoma which is more of a bar and lounge type restaurant that sits right beside its sister, Toko Restaurant & Bar. The architecture is stunning at all three.
On this particular night, eight of us are at Toko to celebrate Xiaohan's birthday.
We decide to share a selection of small dishes and then order our own main course.
We start with bowls of edamame ($6.30) which are simply sprinkled with Maldon sea salt crystals; next we have the soft shell crab karaage. The soft shell crab is deliciously crunchy and the wasabi mayonnaise it is served with brightens the bite.
The tuna tartar ($16.40) is perhaps my most favourite dish at Toko, served with baby shiso leaves, barley miso dressing and long sweet potato crisps which we use as spoons to scoop the tuna. I love the contrasting textures in this. It is creamy and crunchy all at the same time.
Other small dishes we share are dengaku nasu, a blissful binding of roast eggplant and miso ($12.80); the spare ribs with sweet soy chilli ($18.80); and Japanese mushroom skewers with soy honey butter ($9.90).
The drinks menu at Toko will keep you going all night. There are 7 cleansing mocktails including a shojo mary ($8) - a wicked twist on the bloody mary, featuring pungent kimchi and shichimi pepper! Although, I always start with the zaksan ($8) which is fragrant with lychees, pink grapefruit and genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice). On the alcohol side of things, there are over 30 varieties of sake plus a list of shochu tonics with seasonal flavours like figs and kumquats.
I haven't been very creative with my ordering lately so predictably share the sakyo-miso marinated black cod ($30.80) and the duck breast ($28.80) with Zen. Rice is a whooping $4!
The cod is wonderfully glazed in sakyo-miso, producing a light earthy sweetness. The texture is as it should be, rich and buttery with firm flakes.
The duck is also perfectly cooked - the outside is well-caramelised and the inside is tender and pink. I love the pickled nashi pear and sasho pepper that it is served with.
For dessert, I have the kokutou pear and white chocolate spring rolls ($12.80) served with sesame brittle and nashi pear sorbet! OMG, it is so awesome, I highly recommend ordering this! X has the Greek yoghurt pannacotta ($13.20) with green apple, rockmelon sorbet and pistachio brittle. The presentation of her's is breathtaking.
While not cheap, what you pay for is a guaranteed good night out!
490 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW
Phone: (02) 9357 6100