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tokonoma

May 19, 2010

You’d never believe it looking at me these days, but I was once a temporary citizen of the land of the beautifully primped, posied and fashioned.

Hair styled, face primed, I stomped around in tendonitis-inducing heels and attended soirees. (To be fair, they were more often than not soirees that I’d helped to organise, complete with carting boxes of samples up and down stairs and stuffing gift bags in said heels).

Oh, and I lunched at Toko.

Not tokonoma, mind you, for it wasn’t around then, but a sister-restaurante no less, and the promise of takeaway from it made the chalkboard stains on my far-too-expensive outfit all the less worrisome.

I’m back, this time, by way of public transport and wearing heels that I’d carted there in my handbag until I found myself half a block from the venue. And, having left the cares of my not-quite-as-fancy (but all the more satisfying) job behind me, am joined by Howard and our hosts, Fiona & Sian of Mark communications.

edamame

But first, a drink! And whilst I settle in for the night with a cocktail whose name I am highly unlikely to recall, Howard makes eyes at an Ebisu beer & a bowl of edamame.

There is banter, staring at walls and a loosening of the mind from the wire fences of work. And then the suggestion of a booth, maybe? And a tasting menu? Yes please!

salt & pepper squid

Nibbles whilst we decide what to imbibe. The salt & pepper squid is light on the tongue, and leaves no oily residue. I find myself alternating between nibbling at the salty, fragrant bursts of lime covered chilli and cursing the effects of dim lighting.

Tasting menu: Course 1

gyu niku no tataki: seared beef, pickled onions, mizuna, garlic chips

gyu niku no tataki: seared beef, pickled onions, mizuna, garlic chips

Course 1 is, in itself, a crowd pleaser – and none quite so pleasing as the taste of beautifully seared beef topped with sweet pickled onion slivers, fresh rocket tips and garlic chips. I could have eaten the plateful (but restrained myself at the promise of things to come and an aversion to stealing meat from hungry boys. Or, in this case, hungry boy.)

watari-gani kara-age: crispy soft-shell crab, wasabi mayonnaise

watari-gani kara-age: crispy soft-shell crab, wasabi mayonnaise

Half a crab per person sat on a plate for the crunching. And whilst I can take or leave soft shell crab in general, I’m rather a fan of wasabi mayonnaise.  So much of a fan, in fact, that I used it to adorn the crispy, slippery slivers of our third starter.

maguro no miso taru taru: tuna tartar, baby shiso leaves, barley miso dressing

maguro no miso taru taru: tuna tartar, baby shiso leaves, barley miso dressing

Make your own canapes! Or, in my case, an excuse to sneak nuggets of firm tuna tartar into your mouth, top with wasabi mayo and crunch down on the sweet root vege chips until the table starts to resemble a picnic ground.

Tasting menu: Course 2

omakase zushi: assorted selection of toko rolls and nigiri

omakase zushi: assorted selection of toko rolls and nigiri

omakase zushi: assorted selection of toko rolls and nigiri

omakase zushi: assorted selection of toko rolls and nigiri

Course 2 sees a return to the toko I know, with beautifully shaped nigiri and toko rolls. In this case, salmon and tuna nigiri, spider rolls and another with beautifully fresh fish, and greenery surrounding a translucent skin.

piri kara dofu to abogado: spicy fried tofu, avocado salsa, barley miso

piri kara dofu to abogado: spicy fried tofu, avocado salsa, barley miso

But my favourite item had to be the tofu. And not just because of the difficulty we all had in trying to eat it in an elegant fashion. (The tip, wait for it to cool, then pop the whole thing in your mouth lest you sit there fanning your mouth and saying “Oooh! Hot!” or having the shreds of dehydrated capsicum float not-so-gracefully from your mouth and onto the table).

Tasting menu: Course 3

hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe robata: grilled scallop, sweet pickled apple, jalapeno garlic

hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe robata: grilled scallop, sweet pickled apple, jalapeno garlic

Course 3 and we are on the home straight with perfectly seared scallops and a recipe that was created for a charity cookbook. Even my avocado aversion didn’t stop me from sampling this one, and it was firm, and sweet, and salty and lucious.

ami yaki ro-su niku to: wafu sauce scotch fillet steak, wafu sauce, garlic crisps

ami yaki ro-su niku to: wafu sauce scotch fillet steak, wafu sauce, garlic crisps

But oh! The meat! The nuggets (for they were cut into nuggets) of melt-in-your-mouth-goodness. The drool-worthiness! The not-letting-the-waitress-take-the-plate-til-we’d-eaten-every-last-one. Even though they’d gotten cold in the flurry of gabbing and gossipping and arm flailing.

And oh. The garlic crisps. Nuff said.

shochu tonic

shochu tonic

And the reason we neglected such prime pieces of meat? Shochu tonics. In my case, blood orange and honey. With a big ball of freshly chipped ice in its centre. (I think I need one now.)

Tasting menu: Dessert

chef's selection of desserts: ginger creme brulee, chocolate fondant, tonka bean ice-cream

We could hardly handle dessert, but when there’s a trio of creme brulees (coffee, ginger and another long forgotten), three ice creams, a melon gelato, a chocolate fondant and a highly impressive looking yoghurt pannacotta with a pistachio brittle that I managed to smash all over the table (shochu tonic, I’m looking at you), there is always room for more.

chef's selection of desserts: yoghurt pannacotta with pistachio brittle, melon sorbet, coffee brulee

chef’s selection of desserts: yoghurt pannacotta with pistachio brittle, melon sorbet, coffee brulee

And so it is, with smears of chocolate and melon surely staining my chin, that I drift past the beautiful people adorning the bar and into the night.

tokonoma
490 Crown St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
ph: (02) 9357 6100

(Shez dined at tokonoma as a guest of Mark Communications)


  • #1
    May 20th, 2010

    Hehe, thanks for the tips on eating hot tofu! Must remember that for next time at tokonoma and other cool trendoid places 🙂

  • #2
    May 20th, 2010

    Oh I love the look of this tasting menu. There are so many great looking things.

  • #3
    May 21st, 2010

    Oohh wooww look at all that food!! I have yet to get myself to toko let alone tokonoma! Mmm the meat is calling out to mee

  • #4
    May 21st, 2010

    Beautiful and tasty looking! It’s fortunate you had help consuming those wonderful treats!

  • #5
    Jacqui
    May 21st, 2010

    Their presentation is very impressive, very enticing.
    Will have to give it a go!

  • #6
    May 22nd, 2010

    Looks gorgeous, love a tasting menu (and the backdrop here! is it new?)

  • #7
    May 24th, 2010

    oh yum everything looks great especially the dessert platter at the end :O)

  • #8
    bigbite
    May 25th, 2010

    I want to try everything…. and this is after my lunch!

  • #9
    March 14th, 2011

    […] more complicated. Especially when the people you’re talking to are aware of certain double standards regarding your aforementioned […]

Shez