A Crown Street gem called Toko

Beef tataki with citrus soya sauce and garlic chips

Toko in Sydney is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit in a long time, and I managed to go there last Saturday night.  The whole stretch of Crown Street from Oxford Street to Cleveland Street has changed so much in the last ten years and it is now just full of great cafes and bars and restaurants that I think epitomises Sydney, especially in the summer when people spill out on to the street to enjoy the warm weather.

Reminiscent of Sushi-e at the back of Hemmesphere Bar, this place is abuzz with people and chatter and music and was packed by 7.30 when we got there (although I think Toko is more izakaya dining – where it’s basically a place to drink with the added benefit of having food to eat rather than a sushi bar).  Luckily there was a table for us (one of the downsides is that you can’t make reservations and they won’t seat you until all your party are there).

We opted for the degustation menu to sample as many dishes as possible from the menu (and to avoid having to make a decision on a Saturday night after a few wines!) and every dish that was presented to us was a delight.

Crispy soft-shelled crab with wasabi mayonnaise

We started with a beef tataki – seared thinly-sliced beef with a citrus soy sauce and garlic chips.  The beef was perfectly seared on the outside while rare in the middle and the garlic chips were a nice contrast in crunchiness to the tender beef.

Next up was what I would arguably call the best soft-shelled crab I have ever tasted.  The batter was light and crispy and there was absolutely none of the soggy oily mess that you often get with soft-shelled crab.  It was served with a wasabi mayonnaise but I don’t think the crab needed anything at all.  Absolutely perfect.

King fish sashimi with ponzu dressing

Third course was I think what reminded me of Sushi-e and their amazing king fish that’s served with a drizzle of smoking hot olive oil, thin slices of king fish sashimi served with a ponzu dressing, with ginger and crispy crushed garlic.  Again, the contrast in textures really worked in your mouth.

Courses that followed kind of blurred after these three as the wines flowed freely, but I do recall seared scallops toped with finely grated daikon served with a drizzle of basil emulsion, seared duck breast with sliced ginger and sansho pepper, and simple zuccini on skewers and corn on the cob from the robata grill were surprisingly super sweet and delicious.

Toko also has a sushi bar in Paddington, but on a Saturday night when you just want to catch up with friends in a bustling bar with the added bonus of a table and non-stop delicious plates of food being served, Toko in Surry Hills wins it for me.

Toko Restaurant and Bar
490 Crown Street
Surry Hills

T: +61 2 9357 6100
F: +61 2 9357 6155
E: info@toko.com.au

Bookings taken for lunch only

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About Carolyn Chan

A girl slowly eating her way around Singapore and farther afield when she's lucky. View all posts by Carolyn Chan

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