“Didn’t you just review a Japanese restaurant?” Well…yes, but I don’t care because I love it. Hey guys, long post incoming, this is Sokyo:
To celebrate Steven’s birthday this year, he had the brilliant idea of going out somewhere nice. Of course, university budget plus nice food doesn’t work well together but that’s what friends are for. So here goes nothing.
Tucked away from the adrenaline filled gambling rambling on in the Star, Sokyo is situated in a more quiet secluded area. With an eerily quiet foyer, it’s pretty much the perfect place to put a nice higher-class restaurant.
Inside the restaurant, it was dark. As modern food goes, pretty much everything is dark and with the ambient lit candle lights and fancy décor, it makes a great place for a date…or conversely a 21st birthday with 15 people. Either way, as far as environment goes, I was ready to eat some grub.
Now as opted by the birthday boy, we went for their delicious set menu. With a collection of sashimi, sushi and other seafood, it seemed like a reasonably large and satisfying menu. Let’s get this ball rolling.
First up is the Tuna Umami. For those who are unfamiliar with that term, let me give you a quick rundown. As you know, we have four main tastes; salty, sweet, bitter and sour. However, as someone discovered, there was still something missing from it. That “ah” factor you get after sipping a spoonful of your favourite ramen. The flavour that rolls off between salty and sweet and sour all at once which makes you all confused. Umami is the fifth taste. The best way to convey this is MSG; it’s artificial umami! And yes, umami is my favourite and why Japanese cuisine is up there for me.
Now it’s important you know this because holy damn, this dish had the most umami-rocking flavours out. The tuna was nice, firm and fresh and with the soy umami marinating it, it was perfect. Not to mention the touch of sweetness added by the plum jelly and little crunchy garlic pieces; it was incredible! Definitely up there.
Next up is the Tai Yuzu Honey. Now this one was actually one of my less favourite dishes. With the sashimi being sun bream (called Tai in Japanese), the fish actually carries a really strong and pleasant seafood taste, however I wasn’t a total fan of the flavours that came with it. The sauce was just overly bitter and overpowering. The honey did help but it was just an odd flavour for me.
Following the Tai fish was Kingfish; one of my favourite types of fish. Fortunately, this one certainly delivered. The kingfish delivered great flavours of miso and was nice and soft with a tiny bit of firmness to it. Combining this with that crunchy deep fried potato bits and it was awesome.
Moving onto some deep fried goodness…Cuttlefish Tempura. Fresh off the oil, it was nice and hot and most importantly, crispy to the days! Served with lime, the tang was outstanding and furthered by that delicious vinegar soy sauce. The only problem was that the flavours were a bit too heavy that it overthrew the fresh taste of the cuttlefish. I guess that’s a compromise you get when you throw it in some boiling oil though.
Prepare yourself now, because this one was my absolute favourite. By miles. Let’s give a warm welcome to DengakuMan; caramelized miso cod. If Sokyo should be iconic for one thing, it should be this dish. The nice large chunks of fish were indescribable. Imagine taking a bite into the most tender piece of fish which magically holds shape when you pick it up with chopsticks but melts in your mouth as soon as you take that first bite. Combine that with a sweet miso marinade and a perfect amount of seared flavour…can I just order a bucket of these? If you don’t choose the set menu, you have to promise me to include this in your selection. I’ll know if you don’t.
You’ve heard great things thus far so I’m going to drop a little complaint to shaken things up. Now the menu so far is great. I’m getting delicious sashimi, melt-in-your mouth cod; nothing too complex or heavy. So why is the next dish grilled lamb chops? Don’t get me wrong. The lamb chops were delicious, it was perfectly cooked, there was a delicious burnt flavour to it and the marinade was subtle yet still noticeable…but why?
When going through a set menu, I want it to be an orchestra. I want my flavours to be nice and subtle at first and I want them to gradually increase in intensity before it falls back down but let’s take a look at the menu. It goes from tender soft fish to (comparably) tough lamb chops and the scariest part, back to sushi. That isn’t gradual. That’s like letting someone play a violin solo and then interrupting it halfway with a cymbal crash. Not to mention my palette is now officially lambed up before it hits that sushi. Lamb was delicious…but it just didn’t fit.
After that little misfit, it was time to return back to Japanese cuisine. Oh yeah, I’m talking about sushi. So what’s on the agenda? A lot of things. It was a nice, reasonable assortment of sushi. From nigiri to mini rolls, it covered a nice spectrum. Seared salmon, normal salmon, king fish…yummo! The rice was well made, the ingredients were nice and fresh and overall was an incredibly pleasant dish. If only I didn’t still have lamb rolling around my mouth (sad face).
Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the inside, but voila, here was our dessert. At first, we sat there thinking “oh, is it some kind of cappuccino?”. Stuck our spoon into it and there we discovered, like discovering fire, the delicious coffee ice cream which laid hidden blow. Oh and that foam wasn’t normal foam, it was a hearty whisky foam. Subtle but enough to give the coffee that extra kick. This is then complemented by little crunchy chocolate cookie bit things. Nothing beats a pleasant surprise!
So there we have it. Apart from the disappointing arrangement of the menu, the food was outstanding. Fresh ingredients and amazing flavours. Will I go again? Definitely. But maybe not with that set menu again. Nevertheless, happy birthday again Steven!