Monday, 7 February 2011

Tokonoma, Surry Hills


Hellow people \^o^/ 
Apologies for the lack of posts of late , I'm still blogging - just have been having the case of "writers block" :P
The amount of back logged posts kept increasing, so I better get my act together and stop procrastinating !! 

Tokonoma is located right next door to its sister restaurant, Toko, a hip and trendy izakaya along Crown Street in Surry Hills. 
They look very very similar, so read the sign or you'll end up entering the wrong restaurant (which my friend almost did hehehehe).

Back in December, Spreets has a dining offer at Tokonoma, just $99 for a Japanese banquet for 2 people and a complimentary bottle of Seville Estate "The Barber" Pinot Gris. 
Pretty amazing deal as their 5 course banquet is usually priced at $70 per head. For the obvious reason, I had to bring along someone who can drank that bottle of wine LOL 
Luckily, it was that time of the year where we had our last team meeting for the year, so I dragged along the sales manager / foodie friend from Melbourne office (whom I discovered by the end of the night that she can drink a LOT of alcohol and still feels normal *bow*).

Lychee & Jasmine Mojito ; Tokonoma decor
Edamame ; Seville Estate"The Barber"  2009 Pinot Gris

As we were seated, a chilled bottle of 2009 Pinot Gris was brought to our table - had a few sips throughout the night - it was crisp and has a lovely fruity notes to it which makes it quite sweet, very nice indeed.
My friend also ordered a cocktail on the side, a Lychee & Jasmine Mojito - fresh mint & lychees muddled with havana club anejo especial and fresh lime - served long with jasmine tea & soda.
I remembered it tasting just like a regular mojito, with a very slight hint of lychee and couldn't taste the jasmine tea actually.
To accompany our drinks, a bowl of salty edamame to nibble on - the saltier the better !

Kingfish Carpaccio

Although the voucher said its going to be a 5 course banquet, we actually had 10 dishes in total - even if I grouped them into type of foods, I still end up with 6 courses...unless my math is really bad LOL.

First up we have the fresh kingfish carpaccio with ponzu dressing. The kingfish has a nice firmness and sweetness to it, a refreshing start to the banquet. 

Gyu-niku Tataki w/ Ponzu Shoyu
Beef tataki with ponzu soy sauce dressing

Which arrived on the table together with the nicely seared beef tataki with ponzu dressing and garlic chips. The beef was tender and the addition of the garlic chips added more oomph to the delicate taste of the dish. 

Watari Gani Karaage
Soft shell crab karaage

Apologies for the shaky shot of the crab -___-;  It was so dark inside and as the night progress there was even less light coming in from the street. 
The soft shell crab karaage at Tokonoma had to be one of the best I've had, the batter was light and it wasn't oily at all. Perfect when dipped in the accompanying wasabi mayonnaise.

Grilled Tofu & Eggplant

At this point, I discovered the lighting behind the lounge we sat on. 
So from this dish onwards, all the plates got moved to the bench behind me LOL (things we do to get good lighting :P).

The cubes of deep fried tofu was topped with sweet and tender eggplant, once again ponzu dressing was used here - they love ponzu here !

Nigiri Moriawase
Mixed nigiri sushi

At the time we dined there, we got salmon and scallop nigiri. The salmon melts in your mouth and can't go wrong with sweet, juicy and plump scallops.

Buta Bara Kushiyaki
Pork belly grilled skewers

Just look at the glistening pork belly and you can be sure that it will taste good...mmmm....
The juicy, caramelized pork belly kushiyaki was served with a sauce of red miso mixed with go ju chang  (red pepper paste). 

Zucchini Kushiyaki
Zucchini grilled skewers

Something healthier to go with the delicious pork belly, grilled zucchini smeared with grated radish, ginger and sesame sauce. 

Ko Hitsuji to Yasai Suzuke
Lamb cutlets w/ homemade pickles

Why does lamb like to make an appearance in a banquet style menu ? *sigh*
The lamb thankfully was bearable for me thanks to its sweet and caramelized crust , and it was super tender as well. 
The cutlets has been marinated with hatcho miso, grilled and then served with pickled eggplant, which has an interesting spongy texture but delicious nonetheless. 

Shiro Miso Shiru
White miso soup

To end the meal, a warming bowl of miso soup made with white miso, wakame and a sprinkle of sansho pepper. 
I personally prefer white miso compared to the standard red one as it has a lighter flavour, so this bowl was just perfect :) 

Dessert Platter
Fruits + Ice Creams + Chocolate Fondant

After a progression of delicious foods, I must say the dessert platter was a bit of a let down :(
Can't fault the presentation though, the 3 desserts arrived in a heavy stone bowl filled with crushed ice - it definitely has the wow factor.
Freshly cut fruits and the matcha & chocolate ice creams were quite ordinary, thankfully there was the favourite (well, my favourite) chocolate fondant. Springy spongy chocolate cake with oozing chocolatey goodness...yummmm....

Dining at Tokonoma is definitely more relaxed than in Toko, I believe the food came out from the same kitchen in Toko, so wherever you decide to dine in you will get the same quality  :)
I'd say the main difference would be that you are more relaxed and has more privacy in Tokonoma, where as Toko is perfect for dining with a group of friends and if you don't mind communal table (they do have smaller table as well ).
The service remained very friendly and prompt despite the place was almost full by the end of our meal. 

The dishes in the banquet was consistently good, my favourites being the soft shell crab karaage and the pork belly kushiyaki :)
My friend who finished pretty much the whole bottle of wine PLUS the cocktail left the restaurant sober whilst me who had a few sip was tipsy - so sad...sad sad sad.....

Toko on Urbanspoon


  1. That's a great deal! $99 for two, plus a whole bottle of Seville Estate. Amazing food! I might give Tokonoma a try some time soon. :)

  2. Mmm all of that delicious Japanese food! I really enjoyed my meal at Tokonoma too :)

    Best of luck with the writer's block! :D

  3. hi marvin : it was an excellent deal, considering we got more than I expected, definitely give them a try !

    hi lorraine : thanks, definitely need all the encouragement and luck I can get lol