Ambience designed by Tony Chi with tranquil Japanese water garden in the middle of the restaurant. Surrounded by dining tables and teppanyaki tables. Koko offers teppanyaki and à la carte menus for guests to choose from and is known for their sushi and sashimi.
We walked in and were advised of 2hr dining and had to give the table back by 8.15pm. We thought it was perfect for just the two of us and if service is fast, we’d be out of there even earlier. Unfortunately, the service at the start was a bit disappointing, I had already finished taking photos of the view, waiting… with nothing to look at. We waited 10 minutes to be handed the drinks menu and water. Then followed by the a la carte menu. The pace picked up soon after… (thankfully).
We ordered two mocktails that isn’t on the menu – lychee & tropical. The lychee flavour was light and had more apple juice than lychee. Tropical was more refreshing with pineapple. I probably wouldn’t order the mocktails again, I’d try something else non-alcoholic, like tea.
There were many delicious sounding dishes, we were very lost… and resorted for the INDULGE IN THE HANAMIZUKI set menu $150pp.
We started of with a set of threes in a small bento box. 1st one was shellfish with soy vinaigrette jelly. The highlight for me was the jelly, a refreshing start to the set menu, cleansing my pallet and some added texture from the shellfish. 2nd was the Sesame with Chicken. It was very tasty, a bit like chicken pie but not oily and with a bit of moisture. Thankfully it was cut in two pieces because I wanted to end on a high, so I tried the third one, braised octopus and finished with the chicken. Braised octopus was very tender and the sauce was well made – J loved the sauce. I personally would swap the order of #2 and #3, so that I end on a high note.
Then comes assorted sashimi, I like the idea of set menus having assorted, so I can taste bit of everything and order the best ones for encore! The Amaebi was delicious, soft and fresh, I was so tempted to suck the remainder of the head, J had no second thoughts to do so. Ocean Trout nigiri was fresh, already had some wasabi nested under the fish. Kingfish sashimi was sliced very finely and tasted better than the Tuna. Tuna tasted a little older expected, wasn’t as fresh as all the other sashimi.
Up next was the steamed Sakura wrapped in NZ snapper and glutinous rice served with fresh nori sauce. It came out with steam from the fish, too bad my photography skills are not to the point of capturing steam from food. It was visually very appealing. Each element was cooked perfectly, dug right into the sakura and snapper straight away. Beautifully fresh – falling off the sizeable pieces and easy to eat. The sauce was rather a broth to me, clear and fresh, I’m glad it wasn’t strong to take away the sakura scent and the delicate steamed fish. Glutinous rice was not sticky at all, it fell apart nicely. The lotus leaf was a good finish wrapping the sticky rice.
4th course was fried white bait wrapped in bean curd skin, tempura corn and edamame. Koko chefs did very well in the tempura of white bait. The meat was shredded and lightly seasoned with nori. It added some flavour as I don’t think it was seasoned with any salt. The corn and edamame visually looked like popcorn, it was fun breaking it apart, but I found it dry. Although we could squeeze some lime on top to make it a easier to digest, I felt that it was lacking a sour / sweet element like some kind of dipping sauce, vinaigrette as an example.
The last few savoury dishes was grilled 160gm Wagyu sirloin steak served with KOKO steak sauce. Side salad and miso soup to accompany the steak.
Wagyu was so soft that it just melted in my mouth. I didn’t find it hard to chew. Shiitake mushrooms were treated well and roasted potatoes were crispy outside. J kept dipping the potatoes with the KOKO sauce. The side salad was very nice, I finished the salad for J, who doesn’t like sesame dressing and fresh salad? Miso tasted the same as any other miso, nothing special that I could taste.
We didn’t feel full knowing that the last course was near, so as we received the last savoury dishes, we ordered more sashimi. Knowing that the tuna wasn’t great, I specifically requested all salmon sashimi. It was nice for the waiter to ask which part of the fish. As I wouldn’t have thought to specify to the best part – the belly! This dish wasn’t part of their a la carte menu, but they were able to accomodate for $31.50. I thought it was a good deal, knowing that their 15 pieces assorted sashimi cost $35.
Finally, come dessert we chose one of each for a variety. The Macha crème brûlée with red bean, didn’t have it’s “cracked” sound like the caramel on the traditional crème brûlée. It came with seasonal fruits with a bit of everything. I personally wouldn’t order this dish from the a la carte menu. But it was still nice to try. I picked the Yuzu cream and white chocolate mousse with green tea crunch. Yuzu taste was quite mild, I could taste a lot of white chocolate. The stick was also white chocolate. I saw the green base being the green tea that added the crunch to the dessert. The mousse was airey and soft. It was well made but the flavours wasn’t exactly to my tastebuds. I prefer the Yuzu mousse more than the Macha creme brûlée.
Through our observations, the teppanyaki chefs didn’t do a whole lot of shows, they just cook in front of you. I was somewhat relieved that we chose the a la carte menu for our romantic date night.
Overall, we had a lovely celebration of our anniversary at Koko. The place was so busy on a Saturday night of December. So I do forgive them about their lack of service upon arrival. It certainly improved and I could see the team worked hard to ensure our sudden addition of sashimi was made just before dessert. We concluded just before 8:15pm. My recommendations are their sashimi, their small treats and wagyu. Dessert wasn’t a hit for me unfortunately.
I would like to try their lobster sashimi on my next visit with a bunch of friends who love lobsters!
Location: Level 3 Crown Towers, 8 Whiteman St Southbank VIC 3006