Thursday, 19 September 2013

Koko @ Crown Towers

Instagram: @joicejlau

Today I'm journeying back in time to April this year, when I last dined at Japanese restaurant Koko, which has been a fixture at Crown Casino since the complex opened. It does both teppanyaki and a la carte dining, but I haven't tried the teppanyaki option, so my review will be based solely on my a la carte experiences.

The dining room is surely one of the most serene and beautifully designed in Melbourne, with its great view over the Yarra into the city, and of course...that large pond in the middle of the restaurant! My friend and I were lucky enough this time to get one of the tables for two which face the river, which you must step on one stepping stone in the pond to reach. For a moment I regretted my choice of footwear (my favourite 4-inch heeled Proenza Schouler designer boots!), but fortunately I didn't end up stacking into the pond ;-)

I commenced with a strawberry mocktail which was thoroughly impressive. I watched the waiter bring a box of fresh strawberries to the bar, where my drink was made to order. I then sat back and sipped as I enjoyed the view...

Perusing the menu, I realised that there were no vegetarian mains at all and I was told that it wasn't possible for me to take advantage of their lunch multi-course special since there were no vegetarian choices there either. As such, while my friend was able to take that lunch deal, I resorted to ordering three different vegetarian entrees to make up my meal...

First up, a "tofu to daikon" salad which was delicious in every way - the sesame sauce was gorgeous - though nothing mindbogglingly imaginative. Next, I had a very enjoyable plate of "nasu dengaku", glutinous puddings with miso sauce eggplant. These were very nicely plated and each ingredient was well in proportion to the others. In this photo, you can see these two dishes plus my friend's beef entree, which he described as having a lovely refined texture:

Finally, I had the "five kinds of vegetarian sushi", which was definitely the highlight of my savoury selections, with the somewhat unusual ingredients showcased on each piece:

One of Koko's real strengths is its lush, extensive dessert menu each season. My friend and I finished our meal with two different desserts to share - a green tea ice cream and fruit trifle (left), and house-made green tea mochi with seasonal fruit (below) and rice ice cream. Our pick was definitely the mochi, which was unlike any store-bought mochi we'd ever tried, with its unique, delicate, unmistakably "fine-dining" texture and the perfectly complementing rice ice cream. Outstanding.

I've always found the food at Koko to be ultra fresh, well-executed and beautifully presented, and the restaurant itself is quite the sight. Service is smooth and professional, if a little "impersonal" compared to the warmer tone of service I felt at Hanabishi, for example - this is Crown Casino after all! In terms of our meal, my friend rated his meaty choices very highly and I definitely enjoyed what I was able to have too, though I think they could offer at least a few more substantial vegetarian choices and change these up more from season to season as they do with the non-vegetarian food. That said, generally I really do like what Koko does and am always happy to recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable, good quality (with the price tag attached!) Japanese meal in Melbourne, especially for meateaters looking for a well-rounded menu with plenty of variety.

Rating: A+
Vegetarian Friendliness: 6/10
Price Range: $$$
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman St, Southbank
VIC 3006

(Ph): 9292 6886

Koko on Urbanspoon

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Joice! I just approved your blog claim. Now your Urbanspoon profile picture is displayed on your blog page. You can upload a blog-specific photo if you prefer, and can change a few other blog settings there. Also, if you vote for a restaurant that you've reviewed on your blog, we now show your vote next to your post everywhere on our site.