Walking into Tokonoma is a bit like walking into a club. You push open the heavy, wooden front door and you enter a room full of darkness and funky music. It doesn’t make for great photos or seeing what you’re actually eating, but the atmosphere is intimate and moody. We’re here at Tokonoma on a coincidental double date, as we found out that we both purchased the group-buy voucher for a degustation for two for $99. We were also able to swap out our complimentary bottle of wine for glasses of sake instead, which was more to our liking.
We start with a few appetisers, which include some edamame and salmon tartare. The salmon tartare is delicious mouthful of chopped raw salmon, melded together with a mild wasabi miso and topped with salmon roe which pop in the mouth.
Beef tataki was next up, with seared and thinly sliced beef served with a few slices of pickled onions, mizuna and garlic chips! I loved the combination of the beef with the slightly acidic ponzu sauce, and the crunch of the garlic chips.
I was really impressed with the soft shell crab because it was fried to perfection and the serving was quite generous. A small dish of wasabi mayonnaise on the side was a great dipping sauce to go with the crab.
The sashimi selection was quite small but sufficient for each person to have a piece of each. I loved the presentation with the block of ice and shaved ice at the bottom, but this made the sashimi a little too cold. On our visit, we were served super fresh ocean trout and kingfish sashimi.
The nigiri was not quite the traditional nigiri sushi I was expecting, but a fun twist on the usual handful of rice with fish. The round nigiri was a daikon sheet wrapped around rice and topped with a spicy raw tuna tartare. The other nigiri was a cooked white fish wrapped with a paper-thin daikon sheet with rice, seaweed and shiso leaf.
I’m a sucker for fried squid and this is no exception. The tempura batter is light, with tender pieces of squid encased within. It seems like a simple dish but it is executed so well that it ends up being one of my favourites and I keep going back with my chopsticks for more!
One of Tokonoma’s signature dishes, the robata-grilled scallop is topped with a bright orange mentaiko (cod roe) butter and sits on a yuzu-shallot relish. The scallop is cooked well so that it is still slightly raw in the centre, and I love the grill marks on the scallop from the robata.
The presentation of the scotch fillet steak is very creative, with the steak sliced and stacked one on top of another. The beef is served with wafu sauce and garlic crisps, and is tender and still pink in the centre.
Zucchini is one of my favourite vegetables, when it’s served on a stick it’s even better! It’s only very lightly seasoned with wafu sauce and toasted sesame seeds so a little bland compared to some of the previous dishes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We finish off the meal with a dessert tasting plate which changes all the time. On the night we went, we were served milk ice cream, pineapple sorbet and mandarin creme brulee with fresh fruit. The creme brulee had a pleasing crack to the sugar crust, but my favourite was the milk ice cream, which tasted like slightly sweetened milk and was super creamy.
The serving sizes of the degustation dishes weren’t that big, but we were suitably full after all the courses. Pushing open the heavy wooden door again, it’s a bit brighter and quieter outside than inside, but luckily we weren’t drinking enough to be stumbling home (not the same can be said for some of my post-clubbing nights…)
490 Crown St
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: +61 2 9357 6100
Open Wednesday to Saturday, from 5.30pm