It’s hard to describe Sokyo. It’s easy to say it’s a Japanese restaurant, but – and I kind of loathe to use the word – it’s definitely a Japanese fusion restaurant. There are distinctly Western elements in its dishes, and I’ve got to say – this is done to wonderful effect. Taking this into consideration, you’d do yourself well to filter out all of the negative press about this place exclaiming “it’s not traditional” or “original” and so on, so forth. We all know that when fusion is done right, it’s spectacular. It’s awesome that Sokyo landed on that side of the fence.
It also may have become one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Sydney. No kidding.
Date Visited: 16/11/2012
Address: Level G, The Darling, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street Pyrmont, NSW, 2009
Go-to dish: “yakiniku” marinated lamb chop w/Japanese pickles & yakiniku BBQ sauce
Being part of the prestigious chain of restaurants that comprise The Star casino complex, Sokyo is expected to possess plenty of style, and it shows.
Its entrance was so discreet we had to ask for directions to find it. There’s no signage until you actually get INTO the restaurant. Oh, how avant-garde of you.
I did notice that there was a sushi bar at the place which is excellent – there are too few of those around. I will definitely come back to pay it a visit, it sucks not having something to compare Sushi E with 😛
Without further ado, we make our salivating choices and eagerly await the sensory delights to follow.
Yes, it’s just edamame, but whereas it’s usually served to you post-boiled (maybe with a pinch of sea salt), Sokyo goes one up further by making it spicy and topping it with that yummy stuff they put on takoyaki – fermented skipjack tuna shavings! Ohhhhh man you never realise how things can improve until they actually are improved.
As a lover of spice, I found these beans to hit the spot – there’s really that extra dimension of spiciness that adds flavour you just can’t get without it. Pair it with the umami-inducing fish flakes and this is a side dish I would order multiple servings of.
Just remember Sokyo isn’t a cheap restaurant – at $9 for a bowl of these little beans, the ask is quite high; take it or leave it.
WOW, what excellent tempura this is. Not sure what they put in it, but it’s insanely delicious. The batter is crisp and yet has a juicy element, like as if there’s bursts of flavour packed into the batter itself (which I’m sure there must be). The lobster bug itself is succulent and well…perfect.
But that’s not even the best part – it’s that sauce. Yep, that mayo is the perfect sauce for the tempura. Put the two together and you get a spicy umami combo that I can’t imagine improving.
Or maybe it’s first-time glasses. But meh, this dish was nigh on perfect.
I have to say, the mushrooms are actually pretty well cooked, even though ultimately I couldn’t bring myself to like them because, well…they’re mushrooms. Didn’t actually realise mushrooms came with the fish, actually. Nevertheless, texturally they were quite nice!
The fish is really where it’s at, with pronounced softness and it breaks apart so easily, gently, with flavour subtle yet strongly hinted by the maple miso. It’s a fantastic balance, though I don’t think I could bring myself to eat this on and on, as it will eventually get too rich. Still, a great main to share.
These scallops were fantastic – the normally subtle-inklings of the scallop flesh are fully brought out by the white pepper sauce. It seems to be a good day for the sauces today – they’re just winning again and again.
The flesh of the scallops already happens to be superb, so pair it with such a wonderful sauce and you’ve got a killer scallop dish.
I never thought I would pick out a Japanese restaurant for my favourite lamb chops, but Sokyo has done it. I don’t think I’ve had better lamb chops. So tender, but firm, and the flavour of the special sauce is something I’ve never tasted before. It just works so well with the lamb words fail me.
I’m gushing a lot here, figuratively and literally – the drool has come again.
Make sure you order this dish if you like lamb. You will not be disappointed for sure (unless you prefer your lamb dry, Aussie barbie-style; nothing wrong with that).
These pieces of chu-toro rival those of Sake’s, with a rather hefty price tag too (the market price for ours worked out to $8 per piece). Sake’s does edge these out in terms of fatty flavour, but Sokyo has certainly lived up to its own standards when it comes to its sushi delivery. The level of fat and consistency of said fat is what makes or breaks tuna, and these definitely deliver quality befitting their price.
Reverse dip it into the soy sauce, and you’re going to feel it just melt in your mouth. Sushi heaven, ahhh….
Finally, a place other than Sake that does tuna that’s above akami!
It’s testament to the quality of Sokyo’s food that I was still mentally famished after going through all that food. But we decided it was time to settle for some dessert, and we expected good things out of that too.
Lucky for us, there was a sampling platter which perfectly suits our desires!
Ohhhh man so pumped to dig in. Let’s get started.
Immediately out of the ordinary is mochi, but not as you know it. The “ice cream” is frozen milkshake, but tastes more or less like ice cream. That means it’s yum! Sweet, and I’m glad I didn’t get too much of it for I fear for my sugar intake as I know I’d just eat it all.
The glutinous rice skin is very soft, but also difficult to yield. I love this particular texture of mochi – it’s just so satisfying chewing on it.
This was a particularly playful dessert, combining a bevy of flavours that somehow magically work together. It’s a bit of sweet, a bit of savoury (but not that much!), a bit of salty all together. Makes for an odd combination that just works. Don’t ask me, order and try yourself!
The odd name aside, this is a more traditional dessert. Traditional doesn’t mean bad however – sesame ice cream is a tried and true favourite of many, me included; the white chocolate (which is actually encased within the sheets of dark choc!) is a guiltily sweet endeavour to undertake.
And of course, there’s crumble. You know me and my crumble – we’re inseparable. Lovely dessert.
This was a truly surprising dessert – it had barely any taste at the top as it was really just whipped foam, but then go further down and the intense aromas of coffee beans hits you hard. But no, it doesn’t let you go just yet – as the hit of whisky comes shortly after, and five seconds later you’re not really sure what you just did. Was that a dessert?
Yet despite this, I couldn’t help but finish it off. I guess it’s what they say – alcohol is addictive 😉
A fantastic experience Sokyo is, and I wouldn’t think I’ve found another niner, but a restaurant certainly earns it when I deliberately try and fail to find enough faults. This restaurant wins.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀
The Good: amazing fusion Japanese, as if it’s tailored to my palate
The Bad: portions sizes resulting from the kaiseki-style of dishes leaves me wanting, mushroom surprise!
I give Sokyo a grand total of 9 Caesars out of ten – 9/10