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Prior to 2012, my count for encounters with teppanyaki dining stood at a surprising zilch. I have since been to three restaurants. The latest of these encounters took place at Koko thanks to Mr TMF.
One foot through the threshold and we were immediately greeted with Japanese flute music and a strong oriental vibe. The screen doors, brown and gold resonated strongly with the room from the opening scenes of Inception. I almost expected to see Ken Watanabe and Leonardo Dicaprio seated at a long table haha! The zen pond added a traditional and peaceful aspect to the interior. And the decorations don’t end at eye level; be sure to look up to take in the wooden beams and giant ropes.
The beautiful riverside and city scenery outside of the window speaks for itself and give customers yet another thing to marvel at whilst enjoying their meals.
Green tea and complimentary cold noodle-salad starter.
Assorted fresh sliced sashimi.
Given the opulent surroundings we found ourselves in, it was really no surprise that their food was also carefully plated, culminating in some of the best food presentation I’ve witnessed to date.
Grilled ‘sashimi’. Sashimi fans all around the globe will probably be shaking their heads at this photo!
Seeing as we were partaking in a teppanyaki dinner, I asked the chef to lightly grill the raw sashimi pieces so that they weren’t completely raw. The pieces were cooked on the outside but still slightly raw on the inside. The freshness and quality of the fish was evident as soon as you bit into it; amazingly tender and with no signs of what I describe as ‘stale fishiness’.
Tempura lobster tail, with wasabi mayonnaise.
When they say wasabi mayonnaise, they really mean wasabi mayonnaise. I’ve had more than my fair share of wasabi mayonnaise encounters in the past but none were even remotely close to the walloping punch and potency of the mayo in this dish. The greener colour should have set of warning bells but after slathering on EVEN MORE mayo, I was probably only one step away from eating a spoonful of wasabi on its own. The resulting burning sensations and pain in my nose were enough to make my eyes water. Needless to say, I spent a good while smearing the mayo off my next piece. Minus the wasabi sensations, I was able to enjoy the light fluffy batter and firm tenderness of the lobster.
I was expecting a herbal/medical broth of some sort going by the presentation in the pot and the appearance of the broth itself. I was in for a surprisingly tasty treat instead when the strong taste mushrooms registered with my taste buds. The flavours were quite rich and are likely to have stemmed from hours of cooking.
Hotate misoyaki - grilled scallops with miso mustard sauce, topped with microherbs.
Not surprisingly, the scallops were fresh, tender and perfectly seared with the accompaniments presenting the scallops in a light that I had never seen before. The miso mustard sauce was creamy and somewhat resembled melted cheese and the microherbs provided a minty edge. Different but very enjoyable.
Prawns, scallops and sea perch. Sesame, tomato and sour vinegar sauces for meat, veggies and seafood respectively.
The chef at work. Unfortunately, the theatrics at Koko aren’t as interactive or flashy compared to other teppanyaki venues and lack the wow factor. From what I hear, this is thanks to past incidents such as one lady copping a spill that landed on a very expensive dress.
More meats - Australian Wagyu beef striploin and teriyaki chicken.
I’m not the biggest meat fan and I was starting to struggle at this point, so it was all a meaty blur. The flavours were standard and probably no different to the other teppanyaki venues but the freshness and great quality was present in all the meats and seafood.
Fried rice. Close shot of cooked prawns. Seasonal house salad.
Teriyaki sauce dressed up the salad and it provided a welcome and refreshing break from the heavy meats.
Fresh fruits with green tea ice cream.
If I was struggling before when the meats were coming out, then I was in serious struggle town now. But hey, there’s always room for ice cream! You just have to wait a good 20 minutes or so.
Very fittingly located in one of the upscale sections of the Crown Complex, everything about the Koko dining experience also exudes class and fine quality: from the gorgeous interior that whisks patrons away to another time and era to the amazing freshness, flavours and presentation of the food. Not to mention the fantastic customer service.
Level 3, Crown Towers
8 Whiteman St,
Southbank, Victoria, 3006.
(03) 9292 6886