Sokyo, a name that evokes a fusion of Sydney and Tokyo, has much reason to celebrate.
Sokyo at The Star
Tucked inside the Darling Hotel at The Star, with an entrance discretely away from the casino lies a dining den fitted in dark tones, overhanging copper lights, a red “fish scale” wall and a sushi bar. Thick hanging ropes of varying shades partly obscure the view onto the street, their jagged outline resembling silhouetted mountains in the distance.
The modern Japanese restaurant has recently been awarded its first hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards. As a Citibank Dining Program partner restaurant, guests who dined on Tuesday 17 September joined in the celebrations with a free glass of Coombe Farm Blanc de Blancs 2011 sparkling.
Coombe Farm Nellie Melba Blanc de Blancs 2011
Chef Chase Kojima heads the kitchen and brings his Japanese heritage and vast experiences gained working in the Nobu chain of restaurants around the world. His menu is divided into sections, starting with a selection of sashimi, tempura, robata, moving onto essential dishes, salads and soups and oddly finishing with a range of nigiri sushi and sushi rolls.
A bespoke degustation showcased the delicacies and craftsmanship of the dishes on the menu. The prices below are indicative of individual dishes and may not reflect the portion size.
Kingfish Miso Ceviche
One of Sokyo’s signature dishes, Kingfish Miso Ceviche ($18) with green chilli, crispy potato, miso ceviche is spicy and zingy with a touch of citrus. The fine strips of noodle-like potatoes piled like a bird’s nest add a crunch and seasoning to the dish.
Hokkaido Scallop Yuzu Honey
Artful presentation with beautiful aesthetics creates a palette on a plate with the Hokkaido Scallop Yuzu Honey ($16) served with onions, capers and crunchy miso. This sensational dish packs a burst of yuzu citrus flavours that complements the tasty and succulent scallops.
Amanoto Akita Junmai Gingo Sake
A comprehensive wine list is available with a few options by the glass. Sake is the drink of choice, and the Amanoto Akita Junmai Gingo Sake ($12 a glass), or “Heaven’s Door” has a tropical bouquet and makes a good accompaniment to light dishes and tempura.
Snapper and Spanner Crab Spicy Soy
Snapper and Spanner Crab Spicy Soy ($19) with dried shiso, capers, spicy white soy has thinly-sliced fish topped with a delicate mound of spanner crab topped with paper-thin sliced radish. Elegant on the palate, the dried shiso leaves impart a little smoky flavour to the dish.
Wagyu 9+ Short Rib Tataki
Lightly seared, the Wagyu 9+ Short Rib Tataki ($29) is very tender and flavoursome with a kick of heat at the end. The beef is served with pickled grapes, chestnut puree, tarragon, chilli oil, tosazu and sprinkled with sesame.
Moreton Bay Bug Tempura
Light in texture but full of flavour, the Moreton Bay Bug Tempura ($26) with green papaya pomelo salad is served with sambal mayo and black pepper amazu on the side. The latter works best and does not overpower the delicate nature of the dish.
King Brown Mushroom
From the robata or the grill comes the King Brown Mushroom ($12) with lime, coriander and truffle soy. Meaty and smoky with a touch of heat on the finish, the sauce is simply one you would want to drink.
Takara Koshu Masamune Junmai
Moving on to hot sake, the Takara Koshu Masamune Junmai ($21) from Berkley California is robust and full bodied with tropical notes, a style that partners well with warm dishes.
DengakuMan ($36) is caramelised miso toothfish with Japanese salsa and cucumber salad. Warm, with sweet flavours and a soft texture, the zing and heat from the salad balances the sweetness of the fish. This dish is a great match with the hot sake.
There’s one way to enjoy the richness of the Lamb Chops ($33) with black garlic, eggplant puree, aka miso and basil, and that’s by picking it up with your hands (hot towelettes are provided). The sauce is the finest puree of eggplant, thick like a paste and dark chocolate in colour. The shavings on top of the meat are eggplant skin.
Sushi is best served with a dfferent style of sake such as the Kubota Manju Nigita ($29), or Sake Ten Thousand Ways, a medium dry sake that cuts through the fattiness of the fish.
Resembling a miniature taco, the Tai Ceviche ($16) with crispy nori, shio konbu and lime salsa bursts is fresh, textural and moreish.
L-R: Spicy Tuna, Queensland
The Spicy Tuna ($20) with crispy rice, truffle salt and spicy mayo is another signature dish that delivers addictive bursts of flavour and heat. The accompanying Queensland ($21), with spanner crab, spicy avocado and soy pepper has the beautiful sweetness of crab meat in a creamy texture. The combination of the two juxtaposing styles of sushi is simply a taste sensation.
Sayuri Nigori Sake
A most unusual sake accompanies dessert. Sayuri Nigori Sake is unfiltered, reflecting ancient methods when filtration methods did not exist. With unfiltered sake, the impurities are not stripped away which yields a more fruity and floral type that matches sweet dishes.
Milky white, it leaves a residue on the glass. Pungent on the nose with an unpleasant fermented aroma, it is sweeter on the palate with prominent floral and fruity notes.
Chef’s Dessert Sampler
The Chef’s Dessert Sampler ($26) takes the guess work out of choosing dessert. The Yamazaki Caramel Macchiato ($12) with coffee ice cream, cocoa nibs and whisky foam is to be mixed altogether and eaten. The Tropical Panna Cotta ($12) with coconut tapioca, passionfruit curd, fresh melon is a light and fruity alternative. Goma Street ($12) is the pick of the bunch, with caramelised white chocolate and a velvety sesame ice cream. The Sokyo Moshi Ice Cream ($9) is soft and chewy with a filling of frozen strawberry milk shake.
The Yuzu Souffle with creme fraiche ice cream is light and airy like a cloud with a tang of citrus,
and the Donatsu ($13) hide a creamy pineapple mascarpone filling encased in a light doughnut with crème fraiche ice cream on the side. For best enjoyment, make a hole in the top of the doughnut and pour a little raspberry coulis inside it.
Finish the evening at the bar with a fine Japanese whisky such as the Nikka Yoichi single malt.
Nikka Yoichi Whisky with Taka Shino
From the excellent presentation of dishes to the swift and well-informed service, dining at Sokyo is an experience that lingers in memory. Each dish is innovative and the menu offers a natural progression of flavours and textures. The ambience is welcoming and relaxed with friendly banter exchanged among diners. The modern and stylish decor adds a touch of sophistication without the formalities of fine dining.
If you’re looking for a dining venue to impress someone, or simply to treat yourself, Sokyo is a star that shines so bright.
Sokyo is featured in our guide to Sydney’s Best Japanese Restaurants.
Level G, The Darling at The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
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