When a Spreets email came floating along with an offer for Tokonoma it was one we could not refuse. A two for one deal on their $90 Banquet that also included a bottle of White Wine. We arrived and all we needed to do was advise it was the ‘Spreets’ offer, hand over our vouchers and away we went. Settled into our booth we all got our noses deep in the Sake and Cocktail menus. Lex and I had previously had a very late dinner at Toko next door and were quite impressed so we were looking forward the newest restaurant in the Toko stable.
Edamame. Warm edamame sprinkled with sea salt.
As always the edamame were a great way to start off our Japanese dining experience. So light on the palate and quite cleansing, the sea salt gave that little bit extra and also got me reaching for more and more until they were all gone.
Kingfish carpaccio with ponzu dressing.
Not just a simple piece of quality kingfish like I expected, instead we were presented with a plate of kingfish topped with a sauce and finely grated ginger. The light ponzu based marinade made this feel less like a sashimi dish and more like a tataki/carpaccio.
Gyu niku no tataki. Seared beef, pickled onions, mizuna and garlic chips.
Beef tataki is a definite favourite of mine; the deep rich beef marinated and seared gives a good marriage of flavours. Sliced with precision, so thin and topped with pickled onion I really enjoyed the visuals of the dish. The slightly peppery mizuna (think rocket) and the ever so crispy garlic chips gave a nice compliment to the soft but sometimes slightly chewy beef. I was happy to be elected to eat the last remaining piece on the platter.
Watari-gani kara-age. Crispy soft-shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise.
Wow, the soft shell crab was amazing. There is not much more you can wish for in a dish like this. Crispy and crunchy tempura batter giving way to the amazing soft shell and succulent flesh. Add some wasabi mayonnaise and it was a perfect combination. Quite possibly the best soft shell crab I have eaten.
Nigiri. Prawn and kingfish nigiri.
The prawns were quite large when it comes to nigiri and seeing as though this was a Japanese restaurant I decided to eat the whole thing tail and all. Having never eaten prawn tails it was nice to add a little more texture but it didn’t really feel I had been missing out. Kingfish is a winner almost any way it is served, but lovely sashimi grade fish with just a hint of wasabi is exactly how it should be.
Pirikara dofu to nasu. Spicy fried tofu, eggplant and ponzu sauce.
Not hearing exactly what the dish comprised of we began deconstructing what was in front of us. Silky soft tofu topped with cubed and stir fried eggplant and ever so thin julienned and slightly roasted chilli. The creamy tofu with the smoky and lightly spicy chilli gave a nice warm feeling to the dish and the sweetened eggplant was delicate and well matched with the rest of the dish.
Pirikara buta bara. Spicy Pork belly.
My second experience at a Japanese pork belly dish and this time around I was not left unimpressed. Soft meat, melt in your mouth fat and crispy crackling were just the beginning. The mayonnaise had what seemed to be red bean paste mixed through it and it was quite an accompaniment to the delicious pork.
Zucchini no wafu yaki. Zucchini with wafu sauce and sesame seeds.
I quite enjoyed the zucchini, a straight forward dish with just the natural and juicy zucchini flavour. Perfect to cleanse the palate and give you a little break from the salt of the prior dishes. The others at the table were a little less impressed hoping for something out of the ordinary and not just enjoying a nicely charred piece of zucchini.
Ko hituji yasai suzuke zoe. Lamb cutlets marinated with hatcho miso and homemade pickles.
The lamb looked amazing, and came as somewhat of a surprise since we had been counting the dishes so far and thought we may only have dessert left. The delay after the zucchini and thoughts that it was all over made the arrival of the lamb a great surprise. This build in excitement was not left at that, it was the dish of the night for all of us, it was everything you could hope for from the miso marinated lamb. Succulent, tender and ever so tasty, it is something I will be coming back to try again.
Shiro miso. Miso (made from white miso paste), spring onion, tofu and wakame seaweed.
Left until the very end we had thought we were going to miss out on our miso but again right on queue during our discussion of the lack of miso it arrived and we all calmed down. Quite hot and nothing much to report other than it was a nice miso.
Apricot brulee served with an assortment of fresh fruit & Warm dark chocolate and hazelnut fondant served with a selection of ice cream (green tea gelato, milk ice cream and chocolate ice cream).
I make cremé brulee often enough to know that messing with the original can end in tears. This version was fairly conventional except the layer of apricot puree at the bottom. The rich fruity flavour and the creamy vanilla custard were a good match for me, I found it to be a very good version and will be attempting my own very soon.
Being a shared dessert (as with the brulee) it is hard to hold back when something like this arrives at the table. The fondant was the first to be attacked and it was cooked to perfection. Breaking through the soft outer revealed exactly what we were after, hazelnut chocolate oozing from the centre. As for the selection of ice cream; the green tea gelato was a miss for all of us, the milk ice cream did well to cut back the rich chocolate and hazelnut flavours in the fondant whilst the chocolate ice cream gave the chocoholics a good hit when combined with the fondant.
Seville Estate 2007 Pinot Gris.
A big surprise of the night was the Pinot Gris that came with the banquet. Quite soft and fruity with a nice bit of acidity on the back, way above expectations and perfect accompaniment to the banquet. A great night, and an amazing meal made even better when the price was so stunning, $45 per person for just the right amount food. Many thanks to Lex for buying the vouchers for all of us for Christmas, a very nice gift indeed.
490 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9357 6100