Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Trip to Melbourne, Australia (Day 4): Koko

Since we were saving so much money on food so far, we decided to do a really nice lunch the next day and splurge on ourselves. We decided on Koko which we had passed by earlier in the week on one of our walks. Koko is a Japanese restaurant set inside the Crown Casino. We looked at the menu and was immediately drawn to the two course $46.50 (or three for $58) lunch menu. It looked pretty good and the choices spanned across the regular a la carte menu. The only thing not included in this lunch menu was the sushi.

Inside, the decor was serene with a koi pond and massive windows along the edge. Lunch business was slow for them but this was a pretty pricey option for a day to day basis. Most other patrons sat at the teppanyaki stations. We went for the regular menu.
I can appreciate the simplicity and yet attention to detail in Japanese restaurants. So beautiful.
After we ordered, we were presented with an amuse bouche of pickled vegetables. It was light and refreshing. Not very sour but with a slight tang.
Since it was going to be a very hot day in Melbourne, I decided to go light. I started with Namagaki: a half dozen of oysters with momiji grated daikon and lemon wedges (regularly $24). The oysters were extremely fresh, briny, creamy, and tasting of the salty sea. They didn't need the sauce in the middle. They were perfect with a simple squeeze of lemon.
Mr. M&P had the Hotate Misoyaki: grilled scallops with miso mustard sauce topped with micro herbs (regularly $24). The scallops were really well cooked and tender while the sauce was rich and creamy. I thought that the sauce would overpower the delicate texture and flavor of the scallops but it didn't. It was expertly prepared. Yes it was a rich sauce but not cloyingly so. I think the tang from the mustard helped.
For my main course, I had the Ise Ebi Onigara Yaki: grilled lobster Onigara style with saikyo miso sauce (regularly $50) served with a side of miso soup and rice. The lobster meat was perfectly cooked. Tender, juicy, sweet. The miso sauce on top was earthy and savory which gave the dish the right amount of salinity.
The accompanying rice and miso soup was classic Japanese. In fact, this was probably some of the best miso soup I've had in my live. Clean, refreshing, rich, umami flavor. Even the rice was expertly prepared. Everything about this meal screamed details, talent, and quality.
Mr. M&P had the Wagyu Yanagawa: Australia Wagyu beef striploin cooked on a clay plate with shitake, enoki, and shimeji mushrooms, leeks, egg, and spring onions in a soy mirin sauce (regularly $51). This dish came extremely hot and sizzling but as it cooled, the sauce and juices melded together making it ridiculously good. If you're a meat lover, you would love this dish, as Mr. M&P did. The tender slices of meat cooked perfectly only to get richer with the runny egg yolk and the thick sauce. This is definitely a meal to have with rice which they provided. The umami and earthiness from the mushrooms brought the dish into an even deeper complex dish. This just screamed comfort. Even though I like lobster over beef, I was a little jealous of his dish. It was that good.
Koko was a great choice for a splurge lunch. The atmosphere, the service, and the food was superb. Although it's normally kind of pricey, the lunch deal is definitely worth it.

Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman St, Level 3
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 9292 6886

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