Tokyo Tina, the youngest of three siblings (for now). In her early 20’s she rebelled and went to Japan to study manga for a gap year, and fell in love with a Japanese man. They both decided to come back to Australia and open up a restaurant following in the footsteps of her sister’s Saigon Sally and Hanoi Hannah.
The inside decor grasps the feeling of a questionable alleyway in Japan with peeling walls, raw timber, large dangling globes, ink murals lining the walls and bamboo plants placed throughout.
The menu is Modern Japanese Street food, with a Korean influence. Not sure if that is intentional or coincidence.
To start, I ordered the Crispy Ricecake Skewers; Spicy beef, Cured Egg Yolk & Parmesan. I was sceptical at first because I enjoy the glutinous texture of rice cakes and didn’t know if that would lose during the deep frying thankfully they were only lightly fried which gave the rice cakes and crunchy element and still retained that chewy texture. The spicy beef tasted more like a spicy bolognese and not anything that had a Japanese influence to it.
Obviously, I got gyozas; Pork and Kimchi with a Pomegranate and Soy Vinegar.
The gyoza skin was silky and chewy, filled with slightly spicy kimchi and pork mixture then drizzled in a fruity sweet yet tart dressing. The flavours were really balanced well.
Pork Hamhock Ssam- Pork Hamhock, Spring onion pancake, Cos Lettuce and Ssamjang. Ssam translates to “wrapped” and usually refers to Korean cuisine where usually a leafy vegetable is used to wrap a piece of meat.
Warning: do not bring a first date here unless you’re like me and both comfortable with getting a little messy when eating.
The ham hock was the star, sitting there so big and glistering with a knife stabbed through for a dramatic effect. Crispy with rich meat that fell apart, wrapped in a chewy spring onion pancake lined with fresh cos lettuce and topped with kimchi, spring onion salsa and spicy ssamjang. Not only were there so many textures there were also loads of flavour, from spicy to sweet and salty – a real treat for the taste buds.
To truly judge and understand a Japanese restaurant you have to try their ramen. Because this is a modern take on Japanese food, there is a modern take on ramen.
Spicy Chicken and White Sesame Ramen; Pan-fried Chicken, Leek, Snowpea, Yuzu Kosho. The broth was rich and creamy – a good sign, right? Yeah until I tried everything else, the leeks which I swear still to this day were actually celery, added a nice freshness to start with then became overbearing by the second bite. The chicken had been crumbed and cooked then added into a broth which makes it soggy – who thought that was a good idea? There was no spiciness to the dish at all, take it off the menu.
I decided to order dessert because it was named Orange is the New Black which made me laugh. It was a frozen dessert, mandarin ice cream coated in a black sesame mix. It tasted old, was extremely hard to put my spoon through and a waste of calories.
Overall most of the food was well balanced, executed well and full of flavour. You can have a wonderful experience here if you order the right things.