Tokonoma – Surry Hills

November 14, 2011

I subscribe to every meal deal website available to Sydney. No really. So on a daily basis, there will be at least one deal that will take my fancy.

Being the impulse buyer that I am, but then still being wary of over-spending/over-eating, I forward each “worthy” deal over to Stud to see the verdict.

About a week or so ago, fed up with my constant spamming, he simply replied “Unsubscribe!” Well, I never! Thankfully this Tokonoma deal made it in before his opt-out.

Being in Sydney’s South West, it’s not as often as we’d like that we get over to Surry Hills for dinner. We usually choose a little more local for transport purposes. Ok, its not France or anything, its just that Newtown for example, is a little less faffing about for us to get to and from so when we do go, we’re reminded how it really is a foodie mecca for any taste.

We arrived bang on time for our 6:30 dinner and walked up to the hostess, advising her of our names. Ahem. It seemed we were in the wrong place. You see, there’s Tokonoma, then there’s Toko. Tokonoma, while still having that funky Surry Hills bar feel, is actually the restaurant where as two doors down, there’s Toko, more bar like with indoor/outdoor (street) dining but mostly a bar.

Yeah, we’d walked in to Toko.

Sorry! We’re not from around here ;)

To be fair, it’s an easy mistake to make as Toko is very “HEY! Look at me” where as Tokonoma is more of a blinks and you’ll miss it type joint. From the outside anyway.

Anyway! We walked up the stairs and were greeted by Sheba our hostess, who was just fab!! Very bubbly and a great front of house personality. She even asked us if we had booked a celebrant for our wedding as she was in training lol. We had, otherwise she’d be totally in!

The inside of Tokonoma just oozed funky. If funky oozes? I guess sexiness kind of oozes? Anyway! It was well cool! Great interior and would be perfect for a birthday or just a celebration in general really. I did ask if I could take photos upon entry but was told that I could take photos of the food, but not the venue. So sorry guys, but you’ll just have to go see for yourself.

Its also really dark inside so apologies in advance for the images.

Our deal was through Spreets and was $99 for a Japanese dego for 2 including a bottle of 2009 Aura Verdejo. Hence why Stud said yes ;)

Up first, in true Japanese style, were the edamame. Perfectly cooked and seasoned. As usual, we hoovered these in no time!

The service was great at Tokonoma. Very fast and attentive without being too needy.

Our next couple of courses were sliced kingfish (with chilli and yuzu ponzu dressing). Stud and I are suckers for kingfish so knew this would be a hit. I loved the hint of chilli but the fish definitely shone through.

The beef carpaccio (with yuzukoshu chive),was amazing. Deliciously fresh with a nice amount of seasoning. This was the first time we had eaten yuzukoshu chive and its got a great amount of pepperyness (yeah, its a word) to it which really lent itself to the beef wonderfully.

Stud isn’t really a fan of tofu so was skeptical with the Agedashi tofu (with spicy nasu miso). I had thought I might score a dish to myself here but even he was converted with the salty softness of this dish. Damn it! lol

Up next was the chef’s selection of Toko-style nigiri sushi and chirashi maki (a chef’s selection of mixed fish, tobikko, rock chives). The quality of the fish at Tokonoma is amazing and although smaller portions than others, I’d rather have quality than quantity. All of these were delicious

We continued with a crispy soft-shelled crab (with wasabi mayonnaise). Stud isn’t a wasabi fan so didn’t eat much of the mayo. I drowned mine in it as I love the stuff! The crab was perfectly cooked and not at all oily like some can be.

Next was the Scotch fillet (with smoked miso). Sorry about the photo of this one. The beef was utterly delicious! Perfectly cooked medium rare and melt in your mouth fantastic!

To accompany the beef, we were brought the grilled zucchini (with wafu sauce and sesame). Now lets be honest, stuff totally tasted better when its on a stick, right? The zucchini were still al dente which was fab so they held their own when you picked up said stick and the sauce gave a great nutty flavour.

To end our savoury feast we are given a soft soba broth with shallots. Soba? Yes please! Oh Stud, you don’t want your soba? Yeah, hand it over! The broth was amazing and anything with soba for me is a pure winner!

Finally, it was dessert time. The deal included the Tokonoma dessert platter for two and definitely arrived with drama.

The platter contained both chocolate and mango gelato, fresh seasonal fruit and a creme brulee. The gelato was actually placed on a massive ice chunk to keep to cool when brought out. The brulee has a perfect shatter as your broke through its “lid” and a delicious custard on the inside.

After our first Tokonoma experience, its definitely a place I want to go back to and try the whole menu. The deal was a great showcase of what they do best and the venue is perfect for any occasion.

We’ll definitely be back!

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These views are mine and mine only. I don't claim to be any kind of professional food critic, I just know what I do and don't like and express accordingly. Please contact me first if you wish to use any of my images for another purpose.