July has been a massive month of reviewing restaurants in Sydney for Mushroom Mania. Today is the last review and believe me guys, I have saved the best until last!
Toko is an amazing restaurant in the heart of Sydney’s buzzing media district called Surry Hills, serving Japanese food at its fine-dining best.
If you fancy a drink first, then start your meal with a sake cocktail in the bar; a great place to chat, lounge and people-watch. When you’re ready for something more substantial, grab yourself a table in the moody and dimly lit restaurant and be prepared to have your taste buds set alight with deliciousness.
My visit was a lunchtime affair with baby Poppy, my girlfriend Ju’eta and her four year old daughter Nyla. We let Nyla peruse the menu while I set about trawling through it for mushroom dishes. A few minutes later Nyla lifts her head and asks ‘do they have agadeshi tofu?’. A wide smile spread across my face; Ju’eta’s girls (she has two) are so incredibly gourmet! I can only hope that Poppy will be the same one day.
I quickly look over the menu, and it doesn’t seem to be on there. We call over the waitress and she says it is no longer on the menu but will check with chef if he can whip it up for the little Miss. Success! So, above is the agadeshi tofu that Nyla ate – apologies, it probably won’t be available for you if you dine there, but it was really good.
The first mushroom dish us grown-ups ate was Japanese mushroom skewers with soy honey butter ($13) – what a way to start a meal! Whole shiitake and chunks of king brown mushroom were skewered and grilled and doused in a sweet/salty butter. Absolutely delicious and definitely the stand out mushroom ‘hero’ dish of the whole month.
The chef kindly added extra mushrooms to the Assorted vegetable tempura with dashi broth ($16.80) with shiitake, king brown and enoki being perfected deep fried tempura-style. The batter was crisp and not in the least bit oily with a big branch of broccolini nestled among the mushrooms for a little freshness. I simply adore how juicy vegetables become when coated and deep fried – especially mushrooms.
I just cannot attend a Japanese restaurant without ordering Sweet eggplant miso ($14.80); the combination of eggplant steamed until soft and unctuous then topped with miso sauce is completely irresistible to me. This version did not disappoint and the addition of hoisin sauce and black and white sesame seeds was a real winner, plus the presentation was just so pretty.
Our last mushroom dish of the meal was Chicken, shiitake and egg rice hot pot ($19.80). I have never ordered a hot pot dish in a Japanese restaurant before as I usually associate them more with Chinese or Vietnamese cooking.
However, once this hot pot was delivered to the table, I instantly became a convert. It arrived looking particularly appetising with large truffle shavings and a raw egg perched on top. The waitress waited for me to take a quick picture before stirring it through with a wooden paddle.
The result was a thick, glutinous rice dish similar to risotto but with lovely Japanese flavours including shiitake mushrooms, chunks of chicken thigh, flecks of colourful herbs (chives, shiso?) and of course the heady aroma and taste of fresh truffle. I can still taste the gorgeous combination as I type this review and wish I was eating a bowl right now to warm my chilly toes.
I’ve reviewed other Japanese restaurants here on Fig & Cherry but will have to declare that Toko has overtaken all others as the best Japanese I’ve eaten in Sydney. The food, coupled with the atmospheric decor and fabulous cocktails (which I tried on an earlier visit), make it the perfect place for a romantic date, girly catch up or just about any occasion. If you’re in the mood for great Japanese food, Toko should be your destination.
Food bloggers don’t get to have all the fun – you can join in too!
Simply visit one of the participating restaurants in your state (click here for a list) and then write up a short review to be in the running to win $100 every week in July, thanks to Mushroom Growers Australia.
This restaurant was reviewed as part of Mushroom Mania month which is happening all across Australia during July 2011. Fig & Cherry dined at Toko with compliments of Mushroom Growers Australia.