Located at the very 'in' section of Surry Hills' Crown Street, the no-bookings policy remains for dinner at the modern Japanese restaurant, which spawned the market for contemporary, high-end peers like Sake and Sokyo.
|Toko, Crown Street, Surry Hills|
The (relatively) old girl has still got it, with both occasion and out-of-town diners mixing it with Surry Hills locals. The Monday night vibe was not unlike a regular Thursday or Friday night vibe, such was the atmosphere and sophisticatedly simple interior.
|Spicy edamame - fried soy beans, chilli sauce|
Served chilled, the gently dry sake went down easy, especially with the spicy edamame soy beans which were liberally tossed in a hot, garlicky chilli sauce.
|Sake no miso tarutaru - salmon tartare, wasabi miso, lotus root chips|
I can see why Toko's tasting menus would be popular choices, but I persevered with a la carte selections like the salmon tartare; a petite bowl of diced raw salmon in a wasabi and miso based dressing with just the right amount of bite.
Crispy, starchy lotus root chips were used as delicate, hole-ridden crackers to carry the salmon tartare, becoming a textural contrast and delight.
Further adding to the satisfaction was that the salmon tartare is Toko's 'OzHarvest seasonal dish'; an initiative where $2 from every tartare sold is donated to not-for-profit food rescue organisation, OzHarvest. That's feel-good eating at its finest.
|Tai no sashimi to karikari buta - thinly sliced wild snapper, truffle oil, pork crackling|
While the pork crackling brought additional textural and flavour dimensions to classic sashimi, the truffle oil somewhat overpowered the delicate white fish.
|Wagyu no nigiri - seared wagyu beef nigiri, eschallots, chives|
Presented with a light brush of soy, we weren't afraid to add more soy and wasabi to the beef which, in this format, I had expected to be more buttery soft that it was.
|Watari-gani no karaage - crispy soft-shell crab, wasabi mayonnaise|
I noted that our whole tempura crab had soft-shelled, edible claws, which is probably the first time I've ever seen them despite many a soft-shell crab consumed.
|Shiitake no hachimitsu fuumi - Japanese mushroom skewers, soy honey butter|
For each serving, two skewers of the assorted mushrooms were grilled at relatively low heat, then brushed with soy and honey butter, served with zingy, seasoned and grated daikon white radish topped with chives. Not simple by any means, but a dish loved by omnivores and herbivores alike.
|Tebasaki - chicken wings, Java curry salt, lime|
|Negima yakitori - skewered chicken, spring onions, shichimi pepper|
The densely-skewered chicken wasn't dry nor juicy; hiding beneath a surface of deliciously caramelised, sweet yakitori sauce.
|Yaki onigiri nasu miso zoe - barbequed rice skewers, eggplant shiitake miso|
|Sake no aburi yaki - smoked miso king salmon, house pickled ginger|
It was fish perfection with crisp skin and fatty salmon flesh flaking softly to combine with the creamy yellow miso puddle, while the thin slices of house pickled ginger were the perfect foil for the rich, fatty fish.
|Amiyaki ro-su niku no wafu sauce - scotch fillet steak, wafu sauce, garlic chips|
|Coconattu pannacotta - coconut pannacotta, strawberry, coconut foam|
|The robabta grill|