Seeing as though we were staying quite close to the Crown Complex during our Melbourne visit we decided to have a bit of a wander through the Casino and somehow ended up deciding to check Koko out. We arrived without a booking but were lucky enough to get the last free table. The interior by internationally renowned designer Tony Chi is impressive with a picture perfect water feature taking centre stage.
Koko Chef’s special sashimi, Chef’s catch of the day ($46.50).
Our lovely waitress explained what everything was but she was so softly spoken and there were so many to remember I can’t recall them all. Suffice to say all of the usual sashimi suspects were there from mouth-watering ocean trout to impeccable king fish; we were very impressed with the freshness of the seafood. However it was the less common sashimi that drew our attention, especially the hokkigai (surf clam) with its rich orange and contrasting cream flesh catching my eye. Other notable mentions were the salmon belly, red snapper and octopus tentacles. We were glad we chose this dish as otherwise we may never have dared try many of the varieties; I only wish I could name them all.
Ebi hotate gyoza – Steamed handmade prawn and scallop dumpling with ginger ponzu dipping sauce ($25.00).
Presented on a lovely glass tray the gyoza were impressive to say the least. A great balance of soft and lightly chewy dough encasing such a marvellous filling of prawn and scallop. I think we would have been completely content if all we had was a never-ending plate of these for the course of the night.
Kamo enoki maki – thin slices of pan-seared duck breast rolled with enoki mushrooms with yuzu mirin soya sauce ($38.50).
The duck was succulent and tender, crispy skin softened by the sauce, everything you could ever want. The enoki mushrooms look a million dollars but were quite hard to bite through thanks to their stringy nature (apparent the longer they are cooked) and attempting to achieve a clean bite was therefore quite a challenge. The yuzu mirin soya sauce was pleasantly rich with a distinct Japanese flavour that worked perfectly with the duck and mushroom combination.
Kurobuta saikyoyaki, grilled miso marinated “Kurobuta” pork belly ($35.50).
The pork belly had an awesome flavour but seemed to cool rather quickly which meant you could really taste the fat. The first few pieces were relatively hot but unfortunately after only a few minutes the pork tasted quite rubbery and the cooler pieces towards the end of the dish lost their appeal. Nicely presented on a wonderfully coloured plate but it is a shame it didn’t reach its potential.
Chocolate Chilli Ice-Cream ($12.00).
The ice cream was really creamy and a we enjoyed the rich chocolate flavour with just a hint of chilli. But we’re always expecting more chilli in desserts! I’m not sure if chefs play safe with mild chilli content just to please everyone but we would really like to try a chilli ice cream with some kick to it!
Yuzu crème brulee – yuzu crème brulee, fresh fruit and lemon sorbet ($12.00).
An unusual crème brulee with yuzu, when so accustomed to variations within the French boundaries something like this can really throw your senses. The technical aspects were flawless, smooth and perfectly set but I found it hard to really appreciate the yuzu flavouring as much as I would have liked.
De Bertoli Noble One Semillion 2006 ($15.50).
A splendid meal with some great surprises, most notably the sashimi platter with its array of fresh seafood. The wonderful staff and the calming feel of the room made this quite a good night and we will definitely be going back.
8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9292 6886