Well hello again, it’s been a while! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Hokkaido in Japan where we got stuck in the airport both there and back, and when we finally landed on home soil, I was off again on another interstate work trip!
So it’s kind of nice to be home, and to have time to sit down and blog and just chill. But one thing I started to miss as soon as we got back to Australia was the incredible food in Japan – hell, even the fast food there is way better (Mos Burger anyone?)
So yes, this post is about Japanese food, coz you all know I can never get sick of the stuff. I’d had Cho Cho San on my radar for a while, so I was pretty happy when Charm chose this restaurant to have her farewell dinner.
The menu has a selection of dishes designed for sharing, which suited us perfectly as we were able to try little bits of everything. We started with the tempura eggplant miso, a deep fried take on the classic nasu dengaku. The tempura batter was wonderfully light, encasing soft pieces of eggplant and drizzled with a sweet miso sauce, sesame seeds and shallots.
The beef tataki was like no other I’d had, with super thin slices of fatty raw beef that melted in the mouth, with nutty-tasting wild rice for texture and a light ginger dressing.
One of the best things about visiting Hokkaido is the amazing seafood, particularly the crab and scallops. Hokkaido scallops are plump and sweet, and especially sweet when eaten raw. The hokkaido scallop dish at Cho Cho San played up the sweetness of the scallops by contrasting it against the umami flavours of the katsuoboshi (dried bonito) and the tangy flavour of yuzu. There was also chopped radish and wakame seawood for colour.
Another item from the raw section of the menu was the tuna, avocado and pickled eggplant. The raw tuna was cut into perfect cubes, and nestled amongst blobs of avocado puree and slices of pickled eggplant.
We wanted to try the pork katsu steamed buns. Crumbed and fried pieces of pork were sandwiched between a steamed bun, with a bit of lettuce and a squiggle of spicy chilli sauce. While the pork was juicy and the buns soft and fluffy, these were a little underwhelming and quite pricey for the serving size.
The snow crab omelette with Japanese curry was one of my favourite dishes. It looks like a bit of a mess but trust me, it’s a delicious mess. There’s a crispy omelette, topped with picked snow crab meat and a spicy Japanese curry sauce, and when you mix it all together, the flavour packs a definite punch. I’d happily order this again.
I reckon the teriyaki fish collars are the best value item on the menu. This is not a dish for those who don’t like to pick at bones, because you basically attack the fish collar with your chopsticks to find the meat, whilst picking out the fish bones at the same time. But for those who don’t mind a bit of work to get your food, this is well worth it to get at the nuggets of fish smothered with the dark and sweet teriyaki sauce.
The XO noodles are delightfully spicy – one of those dishes that is spicy (well, it was spicy for me) but so tasty that no matter how much it burns you still want to keep eating it. Yeah, that.
We were still a bit peckish so we ordered the soy glazed wagyu beef which arrived with curls of onions and fried tendrils of leek. The beef was tender and flavoursome but didn’t quite have the wow factor of some of the other dishes that we ate.
Ok so this was probably the most expensive soft serve I’ve ever bought, but after tasting it I can understand why. The green tea flavour was pretty amazing – slightly sweet but still with that hint of bitterness that you find in matcha. The texture was creamy without any iciness and while it wasn’t the best soft serve I’ve had (soft serves in Hokkaido blow this one out of the water), it was still pretty awesome.
While the food isn’t traditional Japanese, it’s a modern twist on Japanese food that takes different elements that aren’t usually combined together and mixes them up in surprising and delicious ways. Not all the dishes were a stand out, but it’s a place that I would definitely return to for a modern Japanese fix.
Cho Cho San
73 Macleay Street
Potts Point NSW 2011
Ph: +61 2 9331 6601
Open Monday to Thursday from 5.30pm, Friday to Sunday from 12pm