Although Toko Melbourne has now been open for a few months, it’s still on most people’s radars as the place to go for the best of the best in izakaya dining. The Toko Group have several locations around the world and have no plan on stopping their expansion with the huge success of each restaurant opening.
ATMOSPHERE & SERVICE
Taking over the old Fog location, the team have recreated the space to a more sophisticated and chic venue with low lighting, funky brightly lit bar, natural timber and exposed brick walls. With the help of architect Annie Snell and Interior Designer Matt Darwon they have worked with every inch of the space to create something complete new for the Melbourne market. The space itself is split into a few different sections, with the main area being the dining room seating up to 120 people with their open concept kitchen area.
The restaurant also features a sushi bar, outdoor bar with Japanese style gardens and cherry blossom trees, whiskey & cocktail bar and a private lounge and bar area.
The service is that of a high end restaurant. The menu was explained once we were all seated, drink & food orders taken promptly with a professional and friendly attitude.
Toko is an izakaya style restaurant with a more stylish and high end approach. Their drinks menu is extensive with an impressive range of Japanese whiskeys that you won’t find a too many places, and their cocktail list is definitely worth checking out! With any Japanese restaurant, Sake is always a must, however definitely check out their own personal Sake, Tokubetsu Junmai, created by partnering with Japan’s Nanbu Bigin brewery.
With a menu designed to share, we definitely took full advantage of this by ordering a bit of what felt like everything! Both the Sashimi and Nigiri are an absolute must! We tried a selection of hamachi (kingfish), maguro (tuna), tai (snapper) and sake (salmon) and of course the wagyu.
You always need to get a serve of veggies in with every meal, so we opted for the yasai tempura, which were a selection of seasonal vegetable tempura served with dashi broth. Also ordered were the zucchini no hana to tofu no tempura (tempura zucchini flowers, tofu, feta).
Next out was the hotate no ponzu to wasabi ae gunkan (chopped scallop, ponzu, wasabi, cucumber) and ika no kari kari age (crispy fried squid, green chillies, lime). Both were delicious and prepared amazing.
Our last dish to arrive was the koushi no tataki (venison carpaccio, nashi pear, yuzu koshu, potato airbags). This was by far my favourite dish of the night, it’s so true what they say, always saving the best for last! The potato airbags worked wonders with the saltiness of the venison.
Although slightly on the pricey side of the spectrum, the food, service and atmosphere are definitely worth the price paid. Weekends kick off with a full bar and not a table free, so make sure to prepare well in advance to avoid disappointment.
*hero photo from bookarestaurant