Just having reinvented itself in September 2017 as Toko's cheeky little sister, Tokosan, a bar and Japanese restaurant on Greville street (no.142) in Prahran, (03 9521 3155) is open for business, Tue-Thu 5-11pm, Fri & Sat 4pm-1am and Sunday (from 28th Jan 2018) 12-8pm (closed on Mondays).
The first thing that grabs you is that it's spacious, colourful and pleasing to the eye. If you're a lover of street art or Japanese style art, this is the place for you. A Karaoke Room tops it off for when you'd like to take a break from the DJ spun tunes to feel like a superstar and stretch your vocals instead, plus there's an outdoor undercover courtyard area for a more intimate catch up with friends.
Co-owned by Matt Yazbek and Brett Stewart, the latter was available for a bit of a chat about the venue. Stewart (pictured) is a former professional rugby league player (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in the NRL) with whom he played a crucial role in the Manly's 2008 and 2011 Premierships title wins.
Yazbek is the founder and driving force of the Toko Group of restaurants and has 16 plus years working with Japanese cuisine. He's opened Toko, Toknoma, Toko Mebourne (now Tokosan), Toko Dubai and others, including Sydney's first Japanese-Lebanese restaurant in August 2016.
A former fine dining restaurant for 2.5 years (Toko), Tokosan is now more relaxed and bar oriented, offering a fast-casual dining experience set against a backdrop of Japanese street art that spans across a 16-metre wall that was completed in 6 days. Tarantino fans, the cocktail list is named after Kill Bill characters like 'The Bride, O-ren Ishii, Boss Tanaka, Johnny Mo, Sofie Fatale' and so on.
Currently not open for lunch or on a Sunday, there are plans to rectify that come end of January/February this year. For right now, you can enjoy the friendly, warm atmosphere and kitschy neon signs that'll make you feel like you're in a laneway in Tokyo. Kick back and listen to DJ spun tunes or book the Karaoke Room which is available every night and caters for functions and accommodates up to 20 people. Bookings in the dining area is available for 8 or more people.
With a street style Japanese menu that's casual and designed for sharing, you can enjoy Temaki Tuesdays for 'all you can eat' temakis (cone-shaped hand roll) at just $20. Enjoy it in the courtyard sipping cocktails at Jappyhour with $4 beers, $5 wines and $10 cocktails. Bring a party and book out the karaoke room or courtyard, or perhaps both and enjoy a banquet menu. Split bills is a no-no at Tokosan.
There are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options and the $45 banquet menu requires a minimum of 4 people. Sparse on dessert, a Yamazaki Sundae Split is your only option. Perhaps the Japanese whiskey foam, and Nutella topping will appease you, over a wafer, honeycomb ice-cream.
A seafood lover, I thoroughly enjoyed the crispy squid and the tempura softshell crab which was perfectly cooked. The kitchen menu includes vegetable gyoza, wagyu cheeseburgers, shoestring fries with curry ketchup, chicken katsu curry and tofu eggplant as well. From the grill comes what we're most familiar with - the yakitori skewers, scotch fillet steak with wasabi mash, pork ribbies, broccolini and sweetcorn.
In the starters, the tempura oysters could be for those who don't quite relish the thought of swallowing it raw. Served up with tokosan mayo and caviar, it's rather appealing and tasty. In fact, the starters are just that, to tempt you to salivate for more. It's hardly a hardship with chilli edamame, sweet eggplant miso, takoyaki squid pancake balls and more on offer to dance around your taste buds. Head over for a good night out with mates, but be prepared for Temaki Tuesdays to be busy with all you can eat tamakis on offer for $20.