Sokyo at The Star is a restaurant serving contemporary Japanese cuisine fused with Western flavours. The name Sokyo is a result of merging the words Sydney and Tokyo which is a reminder of the restaurant's fusion cuisine. The restaurant is headed by Chase Kojima, who is also head of the Nobu restaurant in Melbourne. With such a reputation, I had wanted to dine at Sokyo for some time, and finally got the opportunity the other night.
Menu at Sokyo
Sokyo is located on the ground level of The Star near The Darling hotel. With a member of staff stationed at the entrance to The Darling, it's relatively easy to find the restaurant. My significant other and I had made a reservation for a 6:15pm dinner but arrived late around 6:45pm, however this wasn't a problem. It should be noted that Sokyo doesn't take walk ins, and reservations are essential. We were shown to our table and were immediately offered water and given copies of the menu.
The ambience is sleek and elegant, with dark tables and beechwood chairs. Within moments of being seated, a server approaches our table and introduces himself as Daniel, our waiter for the evening. He was utterly professional and one of the most attentive waiters I've had the experience of meeting. As it was our first time dining at Sokyo, he explained the menu to us and also made some recommendations. The menu at Sokyo was split into sections including sashimi, tempura, robata (Japanese grilled skewers of meat, seafood or vegetables), essential dishes, sushi and nigiri. Daniel explained that at Sokyo, one dish is generally ordered from each section, and each dish will come out following another one, similar to a degustation. A few minutes after ordering, our first dish was presented.
The Tuna Umami ($18) from the Sashimi section of the menu was the first dish of the evening. Thin slices of raw tuna were laid out on a dark plate, with a drizzling of garlic soy sauce on the side and small cubes of preserved plum jelly lay on top of the raw tuna. The tuna was so soft it practically melted in my mouth. The garlic soy on the side was light and subtle. Admittedly it was a bit difficult to scoop up the slices of tuna with the small cubes of plum on top.
As a snack on the side we'd also ordered the Spicy Edamame ($9). It was garnished with shavings of katsuobushi, a popular rice topping made from bonito fish flakes, and also used on top of okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The edamame was probably one of the tastiest I've ever had, and was charred black in some places, but this only added to the flavour instead of diminishing it.
After we'd finished devouring our first dish, it was promptly cleared by a waiter. We didn't have to wait long before our next course, the Asparagus Tempura ($12) was brought to our table. It was a fairly small serving of tempura, with only a few pieces arranged neatly on the plate, with a side of truffle sauce that was a pale beige colour. The asparagus tempura was crisped lightly, and the asparagus interior retained firmness inside. The creamy truffle sauce was mild in flavour and wonderfully creamy, although it was a little difficult to detect the flavour of the truffles.
Corn Fed Chicken
The next dish was a robata dish, which is a Japanese dish of grilled meat or vegetables on a skewer. The Corn Fed Chicken ($12) consisted of two skewers served on a small plate. There were two pieces of chicken on the skewer, with a large piece of spring onion in between, and burnt leeks arranged on top. The chicken was tender and succulent, and the yakitori jus was the perfect pairing. It was one of the best dishes of the evening.
DengakuMan- alternating between flavours of acidic and sweet
The robata was followed by a dish from the essential dishes menu selection. Our waiter Daniel had recommended the DengakuMan, consisting of caramelised miso cod, japanese salsa and cucumber salad. The serving was small, but he hadn't gone wrong with his recommendation. The miso cod was so tender it fell apart as we tried to pick it up with our chopsticks. The miso cod on its own had a soft, warm texture and sweet flavour, but tasted better when combined with the cool cucumber salad and japanese salsa, which added contrasting temperatures and a slight acidity which offset the very sweet miso cod. This was also one of the standout dishes of the evening.
Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice
Following this, Daniel had made another recommendation for our nigiri course which was the Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice ($20) consisting of crispy nigiri, truffle salt, and spicy mayo. The textures of the nigiri were very interesting and innovative, and unlike anything I had ever tasted before. The tuna was exceptionally fresh and so soft it practically melted in our mouths.
While we were still finishing this off, our last dish, the Japanese Barbecue roll ($19) under the menu section Sokyo Sushi Rolls was brought to our table. In terms of presentation, the Japanese Barbecue roll didn't look as appetising as the previous dishes had. The roll was comprised of beef short rib, gochijang sauce, and white kimchi. The sauce was an interesting flavour, but I found the beef a little bit chewy. Compared to the quality of the two previous dishes, this one was a little bit of a let down.
Japanese Barbecue Roll
The other aspects of dining at Sokyo, such as the service was exceptional. Our waiter Daniel was knowledgeable about the cuisine on offer at Sokyo, and constantly checked with us all evening about whether we were enjoying our food. I also admired the skill of the chefs for being able to prepare everything in such a timely manner. We never had to wait too long for our food, and barely did any waiting that night at all. The one downside was that I found the servings a little too small, and wasn't entirely full after finishing dinner. Therefore, I wouldn't recommend this restaurant for people with large appetites unless they're willing to spend over $150. Other than that, I enjoyed the experience dining at Sokyo, and will have to return to try their other offerings.
Where: Ground level of The Darling Hotel at The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont NSW.
Why: Contemporary Japanese cuisine
Cost: More expensive than your average restaurant. On this occasion we spent $129 for seven dishes.
When: Lunch on Fridays, and dinner Monday to Saturday.