Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Another amazing dining experience in Sydney, this time at Tokonoma, the not-so-little-brother of Surry Hill’s famed Japanese haunt, Toko.

The Tokonoma crew and Mark Communications hosted me and a few other bloggers to try out the chef’s tasting menu and check out the venue.

The fit-out rocks. It’s moody with retro curved booths and elegant, secluded alcoves. I heart.

Better still, the cocktail menu is the same as Toko, with some of my all time favourite cocktails in Sydney.

I rate very highly their Fuwa Fuwa Martini, as well as several others I’d like to list but can’t remember the names!!!

The amazing pineapple, ginger sugar, vanilla and rum mojito made my month. Seriously.

I could easily come here with friends and drink the cocktails all night long.

But what about the food?

Well, in one word, it’s sublime.

Head Chef, Regan Porteus, hails from NZ and spent time in London pursuing Michelin-quality experience before discovering modern Japanese cooking at Zuma in Knightsbridge.

“I want the food in Toko and Tokonoma to make an impact. I want it to please the eye, please the tastes . . . I want it to excite. I take the best of local produce, combine it with Japanese commodities and preparation techniques and try to deliver it with a modern touch.”

On discussing why Japanese food captured his imagination, Porteus said “It was a new world of ingredients, tastes, commodities, techniques and a whole new style of cooking, eating, dining and serving that kept me interested and continues to.”

Toro fans should keep their eyes peeled for the fast approaching tuna season, with farmed bluefin a potential menu item and, if Porteus can figure out a way to make the most of the kitchen’s 6-burner stove, he might just introduce a newly developed recipe of braised pork and mushroom kama meshi (Japanese rice hot pot) to keep away the cold during the winter months.

In the meantime, feast your eyes, and your stomachs, on the chef’s tasting menu ($70pp):

maguro no miso taru taru
tuna tartar, barley miso, baby shiso leaves, taro chips

Sweet, honeyed flavor reminding me of ahi poke.

gyu niku no tataki
seared beef, pickled onions, mizuna, garlic chips
Amazing, my second favourite dish with smoky seared edges and an iron-rich centre.

watari-gani kara-age
crispy soft shell crab, wasabi mayonnaise

The crab had a great spongy crunch.

omakase zushi
assorted selection of rolls and nigiri

The rolls had a sweet fish flavour with crisy, salty caviar bursts.

The kingfish nigiri was like melting butter while the fluro-pink tuna had a sticky, iron touch.

piri kara dofu to abogado
spicy fried tofu, avocado salsa, barley miso

Sweet, paprika-flavoured chilli threads over soft, fatty avocado and homely-soft tofu in crispy batter.

hotate no jalapeno amazu zoe
robata grilled scallop, sweet pickled apple, jalapeno garlic
The jalapeno salsa was a sweet, spicy hit and took on an almost chipotle flavor despite its bright green appearance. The apple and sweet scallop were complimented by it perfectly. My favourite dish of the night, and incidentally the chef’s pride and joy too.

ami yaki ro-su niku to wafu
scotch fillet steak, wafu sauce, garlic crisps

This buttery, fatty steak was simply divine. My third fav of the night.

zucchini no wafu yaki
zucchini, wafu sauce, sesame

Tangy vegetable cylinders offset the richness of the beef.

shiro miso
white miso, spring onion, tofu, wakame
This gentle umami soup was a perfect end to the savoury courses.

The dessert platter contained ginger and d-ate pudding; rockmelon, chocolate, tonka bean and calpico sorbets; ginger, coffee and green tea crème brûlées; chocolate fondant and a spring roll filled with deliciousness (sorry, can’t remember!!)

I’ll be back to Tokonoma soon. Very, very soon.

Photo of Toko interior from indesign.
Photo of Regan Porteus from Mark Communications.


  1. The food at Tokonoma is great isn't it! :) The chef's tasting menu looks lovely. How was Sweden? :)

  2. hey lorraine - sweden was great, but way too short. i'm in bilbao now and just about to catch a bus to san sebastian and arzak!!! can't wait.


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