What’s it like: Just when you thought this city didn’t need yet another high-end Japanese lounge and restaurant, along comes this brand from Sydney that goes and changes the game – with nothing more ground-breaking than good food, good service, and a stylish yet relaxed ambience. The contemporary chic interiors are vast, yet feel intimate, with warm wood furniture and a panoramic view into an open kitchen, but as soon as the weather permits, we’d recommend sitting outside on the terrace covered with a canopy of Geisha-style umbrellas, and leafy landscaping. The menu specialises in Izakaya-style dining – although they do offer a selection of sushi and sashimi – which is basically Japanese tapas, a.k.a sharing-style small plates. Becoming quite popular among restaurants here, it’s a great way to sample a variety of dishes, while relaxing with your cocktails. We lingered over the succulent, flavoursome boneless chicken wings served with smoked miso butter; the smoked robata-grilled miso salmon with a charred crispy skin and pickled ginger, which came highly recommended, and rightly so; and a delightful grilled avocado with sweet soy and lime (definitely something I’m going to try and recreate at home). The portion sizes are just right, which means we had enough room left to try the spicy baby chicken with lemon soy sauce; a more-ish eringi mushroom with white asparagus and truffle butter, and their signature braised wagyu short rib with wasabi crème fraiche – melt-in-the-mouth, doesn’t do justice to just how tender and delicious the meat was. While we did well to pack so much into our meal, dessert was definitely going to be a sharer – and our choice of coconut panacotta with coconut foam and a raspberry sorbet proved that there isn’t one thing this kitchen produces (at least from the ones that I tried) that I couldn’t recommend. And the buzzing crowd on a Thursday night obviously agree!
UPDATE: In January 2016 Toko Dubai relaunched as Downtown Toko, and no longer has any ties to the Sydney restaurant.