Our Night At Toko Melbourne Japanese in Prahran
Toko has opened it's doors in Melbourne following the huge success of Toko in Surry Hills Sydney, and the Prahran and South Yarra "creatives" are giving it the thumbs up. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience this modern stylish Japanese cuisine. Toko Group has had its sights set on the south for some time with Toko Melbourne located in a prime precinct at 142 Greville Street Prahran. The previous Fog restaurant location has seen an extensive renovation with a step up in style and sophistication. Also check out our Best Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne.
Toko Melbourne founder Matt Yazbek’s is launching out with this restaurant his fourth venture. Yazbek is working with a team of 50 including General Manager Evan Gargaro. Evan introduced himself to The World Loves Melbourne and is keen to impress Melbournites with fine cuisine and savvy service. Yazbek said the time is right to open in Melbourne. “We’ve been looking for the right location in Melbourne for two years, so when this site on Greville Street became available, we pounced. "
Featuring izakaya dining in the finest tradition – a style conducive to sharing – Toko Melbourne’s menu includes signature dishes like 48 hour marinated smoked miso king salmon with house pickled ginger (sake no aburi yaki) as part of the tasting menu... This dish was an absolute highlight with smoky and miso nuances to be savoured.
Another highlight of the tasting menu was the Freshly sucked pacific oysters, tosazu. A hit of lime was welcome. Toko served up several dishes on a bed of ice; we enjoy the aesthetic and imagine the amount of ice they go through each evening!
A taste and texture triumph was the Salmon tartare, wasabi miso, nori rice crackers. This is delicate and sophisticated fare.
A sense of theatre pervaded with the advent of Venison carpaccio, nashi pear, yuzu koshu and a potato crisp. We spooned the carpaccio out of the leaf cone. A rewarding creamy gamey dish complemented with a smart crisp crunch (we scooped the carpaccio on to the crisp).
A dish simply named Daily selection of sashimi highlighted another strength of the kitchen in its clean cuts of fresh sashimi. The World Loves Melbourne has a penchant for kingfish and was not disappointed.
By now we were covering a great deal of ground in this tasting plate menu; from seafood to Venison and now back to Beef and seafood with Scampi nigiri, foie gras, truffle oil. The sweet scampi was well received. Tasting menus should take you on a journey and Toko provides just that.
Toko was now pumping by 7pm with hardly a spare seat in sight. The creatives of Prahran have embraced this new kid in town.
Soft shell crab is one of the pleasures of life and Toko serve up a delightful Crispy soft shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise.
Broccolini and sesame dressing was a simple dish that provided even more variety in the tasting menu.
A highlight was the Wagyu tenderloin, 500 day grain-fed with a marble score of 9+. Yeah baby, so succulent with a sprinkle of salt and a hit of wasabi. The accompanying sauce was addictive and added to the experience.
With most Japanese establishments serving miso first in a meal, Toko serves miso towards the end of its tasting menu. For The World Loves Melbourne miso is welcome at any time.
Surprising was the dessert which for us almost seemed Italian. The chocolate fondant was first class, as was the ice cream.
Other highlights on the menu include wagyu beef gyoza with white-soy mustard and shiso (gyu niku gyoza); thinly sliced kingfish with a yuzu dressing and chives (hiramasa no usuzukuri); and six-piece chef selection signature nigiri including the scampi with foie gras and truffle oil; and unagi, torched foie gras, and umeboshi. The food is served in synergy with an extensive sake menu, a considered spirit list highlighting interesting and top-shelf rare whiskies, and a seductive cocktail selection. We imbibed both sake and fine wines.
Curated by Paul Birtwistle of the Toko Group, the sake menu is a key focus for Toko, which works in partnership with the Nanbu Bijin brewery in Japan to create a signature sake - Tokubetsu Junmai - presented in a custom bottle. Toko stocks the Tsuki No Katsura Yanagi, a rare and exquisite example from the Sudo Honke brewery in Ibaragi. A selection of Japanese and Scottish whisky is served. (Toko has chic bars adjacent; with these bars packed on weekends).
Highlights include the exceptionally rare Mars Komagatake 2011 The Revival; Suntory Hakushu 25 year; and the boutique Nikka Taketsuru 17 year. Toko’s cocktails surprise; Kakeru’s Cloud is fun with strawberry infused Wyborowa vodka, mandarin shochu, vanilla, and egg whites garnished with pink fairy floss; and the Shimamoto Sour, Toko’s twist on the traditional sour, with apricot infused yamazaki, honey, chamomile, citrus, hint of absinthe, served with a drunken apricot.
The interiors are a collaborative effort between architect Annie Snell, Toko interior designer Matt Darwon, and Yazbek. Natural timber, exposed brick walls, stone bars and low lighting meet a chic, minimalist colour palette to create a warm understated interior. The World Loves Melbourne is impressed with the transformation.
Toko Melbourne features a private dining room, seating for 120, sushi bar, open kitchen and open chef preparation area, outdoor bar with Japanese style gardens with cherry blossom trees, and a separate whiskey and cocktail bar, also available for use as a private lounge and bar. Get on it!