Phew, it’s been a majorly busy few weeks for me with work, weddings, Easter, family, friends, birthdays…well life in general really (aagh!). Basically this meant I was left with the good old dilemma of ‘too much to do, too little time to do it all in’. If only I could have a couple extra hours every day to cram in everything!
Regardless, somehow, I managed to squeeze in a catch-up with our good friends Justin and Christina at Toko in Surry Hills. The vibe of Toko pure trendy. It’s definitely a place where you get the feeling that this is where the beautiful people go to be seen. It’s probably one of the biggest draw card apart from the food that keeps new customers coming. Unfortunately, despite the restaurant’s popularity, as is the case with a lot of popular Surry Hills/Paddington eateries nowadays, they do not accept bookings for dinner. Drive past this place on any night of the week and you’re almost guaranteed to see a crowd mingling outside waiting for a table – sometimes waiting in excess of an hour or more. So knowing this, and after one failed attempt previously arriving at what I thought was an early 6:30pm dinner, this time we arrived well before opening time.The restaurant isn’t open officially until 6pm for dinner, but luckily the cocktail bar opens at 5:30pm so we were able to have a quick round of drinks before settling in for an early dinner.
The interior of Toko is largely wooden predominated with a long bench table down the middle and several more intimate seating along the window. For those wanting a show with their dinner, there are also front row seats in front of the sushi preparation area and the robata grill. The rest of the kitchen is also primarily open so from where ever you’re sitting there’s always an opportunity to glance inside to see the inner workings.
Served warm with a light sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.
Watari-gani Kara-age (Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Wasabi Mayonnaise)
A classic nowadays at Japanese restaurants. The crab was seasoned lightly and was perfect by itself and also dipped in the wasabi mayonnaise.
Gyu Niku No Tataki (Seared Beef, Pickled Onions, Mizuna & Garlic Chips)
The lightly seared beef was very thinly sliced. Delicious eaten in a single bite rolled around the sour pickled onions, the mildly peppery mizuna leaves and the crunchy garlic chips.
Maguro No Miso Taru Taru (Tuna Tartar & Baby Shiso Leaves with Barley Miso Dressing)
The sweet potato chips had a delicate crispiness which contrasted with the smooth texture of the tuna tartar. The barley miso dressing was very understated and served to complement the rich flavour of the tuna.
Omakaze Zushi (Assorted Selection of Toko Rolls & Nigiri)
Fresh sashimi nigiri and crispy soft shell crab rolls – what more could you ask for?
Piri Kara Dofu To Abogado (Spicy Fried Tofu with Avocado Salsa & Barley Miso)
One of the more unique dishes. The tofu had a nice contrast of the slightly spicy fried texture of the outside with the smooth texture and simple flavour of the plain tofu inside. The avocado salsa was a surprise addition though.
Hotate No Jalapeno Amazu Zoe (Robata Grilled Scallop with Sweet Pickled Apple & Jalapeno Garlic)
I didn’t taste much of the jalapeno flavour in the garlic as advertised in the description. However, that said, the grilled scallop had a nice smokey flavour from the robata grill with the sweetness of the fresh meat enhanced by the sour pickled apple on top.
Ami Yaki Ro-Su Niku To Wafe Sauce (Scotch Fillet Steak with Wafu Sauce & Garlic Chips)
There’s nothing like a perfectly cooked piece of steak. While the steak was largely unseasoned by itself, the flavours were provided by the soy based wafu sauce and the garlic chips. Simple but delicious.
Zucchini No Wafu Yaki (Zucchini with Wafu Sauce & Sesame Seeds)
Another dish off the grill. The zucchini was grilled perfectly so that while it was cooked through, it wasn’t mushy in anyway like zucchini tends to.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the meal was the delicious fig and ginger pudding that was served as part of the dessert platter. So good in fact that it pretty much overshadowed everything else on the platter. :) The ice cream and sorbets were quite a contrast to each other though. While the vanilla ice cream, chocolate ice cream and rockmelon sorbets were quite subtle in flavours, the tropical sorbet on the other hand definitely packed a punch that had you widening your eyes with shock at the intense flavours.
The bustling kitchen of Toko. I couldn’t help but laugh when the chef stopped what he was doing halfway to pose for me! :)
Toko Restaurant & Bar
490 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia
P: 612 9357 6100 F: 612 9357 6155