Step into any one of the Star Sydney’s top restaurants on a Friday night and you’ll understand how the obsession with good service and outstanding food translates to regular habitué. Harbouring restaurants that explore the upper levels of taste in both its literal and metaphorical form, dimly lit spaces with extensive Whisky menus find harbourside views with open kitchens at these restaurants. Pick from anyone and you’re promised a thoughtful menu with explosive flavours.
Our choice for the night was Sokyo, widely regarded as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Sydney it has the pedigree to back up any claims. San Francisco-born executive chef Chase Kojima is the man behind the contemporary Japanese menu, and his former placements at Nobu are immediately obvious, and if anything, elevated.
What we ate: Chef’s Tasting Menu ($150)
What we drank: Chasing Kojima Cocktail, 2019 Tormaresca Chardonnay.
Highlights: Sokyo Style Sashimi, Mushroom Tempura, Dengakuman, Short Rib, Caramel Macchiato (dessert).
Sokyo Restaurant Review
Sometimes we find ourselves obsessed with the idea of exploring hidden gems and forgetting there’s a good reason the top restaurants in Sydney are just that. Sokyo is a great example, and exploring the Chef’s Tasting Menu ($150) as we did here reminds you in an instant. While we haven’t had a chance to sit at the sushi bar – where your own personal Japanese chef slings you raw cuts of the freshest fish all night – we’ve heard it’s an equally great experience.
What’s the Venue Like?
Mood lighting fills the room, on one side you have a long bar with seating and the adjacent modern lounges are a great place to relax before you move into the physical restaurant for dinner. Drinks are essentially the same as you’ll find at your table, however, we recommend arriving 30-60mins early to the bar on a Friday and relaxing with a celebratory end-of-week drink before you embark on the culinary experience. Italian white wines are always a welcome addition when sampling Japanese food and the Wine List reflects the best from all corners of the globe – there’s even a bottle of 1982 Rothschild for the adventurous. Cocktails are enticing, especially ‘Chasing Kojima’ with Yuzu sake, pink grapefruit, lemongrass and elderflower, particularly sweet but delicious nonetheless.
As you shift from the bar into the restaurant the scene changes from mood set bar to exciting modern Japanese. You catch glimpses of the sushi chefs behind the bar presenting their creations to guests, and the dining tables are equally vibrant, you’ll catch most guests exaggerated reactions to their omakase presentation.
Is the Food at Sokyo Good?
Choosing the Chefs Tasting Menu for this visit, the dishes read well-thought-out front to back. A mixture of sashimi, tempura, short rib, and coffee dessert makes for an inviting main course, although, you can add anything from nigiri to robata at an additional cost should you need anymore. In any case, we started with a plate of top-tier edamame to start. Warm, well-salted and plentiful, it’s a great snack to steer your tastebuds in the right direction before indulging in the menu.
The first dish, Sokyo Style Sashimi with Tuna & truffle egg yolk, pickled daikon, red onion is absolutely phenomenal and a great way to start the main course. At no point is the truffle egg yolk overpowering and the Tuna is fresh and flavourful, welcome additions of pickled daikon, red onion act almost as palate cleansers from both the edamame starter and the second-course Mushroom Tempura. Here, a large Shiitake mushroom is presented with a prawn filled head, smaller shimeji mushrooms are lightly fried and soak up the miso transporting you to a texture-rich peak.
Scallop & Ika contradicts the mushroom tempura with a soft, buttery scallop and spicy salsa verde. No matter how many times we experience top-tier spice it always shocks us how accurately the best chefs can balance these flavours. If we could add this salsa verde to every dish on the menu, we would. Thankfully, the Miso-glazed toothfish backs up the flavour with tangy Japanese salsa and soft cucumber salad.
Short Rib is grilled to absolute perfection on a Bincho grill and the accompanying Japanese potato is cut so finely you’d be mistaken for thinking it’s white truffle. Of course, the Chef’s Omakase Sushi gives a short glimpse into the experience at the sushi bar and leaves you wanting to come back another time for a sample. The final dish on the menu is likely our favourite, and if the Omakase wasn’t enough, we guarantee the Caramel Macchiato dessert with coffee ice cream, cacao nibs, and Nikka whisky foam will get you back. At its top layer, the Nikka whisky foam captivates our palate and if you’re a Man of Many readers, you already know why! Moving down the layers, coffee ice cream is rich, balanced by cacao nibs that soften as you indulge. We didn’t know what to expect with this one, but we’d say it’s one of the best desserts we’ve had in Sydney, period.
Would we come back again? Absolutely. Did we mention the extensive Whisky menu… that’s enough of an excuse, right?
Located in: The Star Sydney
Address: Level G, The Darling The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009
Hours: Mon-Thur 7 – 10am, 5 – 10pm, Fri-Sat 7 – 10am, 12 – 3pm, 5 – 11pm, Sun 7–10am, 11am–3pm, 5–10pm
Phone: 1800 700 700