Koko

Crown Casino
8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
+61 3 9292 6886

So, it may be week 13 of semester (at least I think it’s week 13. I don’t know, I’m hardly ever on campus) but my lecturers held their last classes last week so I did not have a valid reason to be in Clayton today. After picking Adam up from work (and meeting a few of his more flamboyant workmates at the East Melbourne store), we hopped on the city circle and trammed all the way from La Trobe Street to Crown. It took us effing thirty minutes – time better spent walking there, in my opinion but 1) Adam is a lazy fck and 2) Adam is a cheap fck who doesn’t want to buy another tram ticket. Anyway, the place that we were heading to, Koko, was probably the first “proper” fine dining restaurant I’ve been to. The year was 1999: I had just met Aaron and Chris Nolan for the first time, we had watched Austin Powers 2, ICQ was sooo in and despite being in yr.9 at an all-girls private school with the Blairs and Serenas of the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, the thought of having to pay more than $50 per head for sushi did my head in. Little did I know, back then, that I would one day think nothing of paying double that much for awesome sushi.

Located at Crown Towers, Koko has been around since the day the casino opened. The head chef Allan Koh might be Chinese-Malaysian (which to many people, means that because he ISN’T Japanese then his food must suck), but that has not stopped Koko appearing in consecutive editions of The Good Food Guide thanks to his creative approach to Japanese cooking. A popular destination for Louis Vuitton-toting Asian tourists, it has proudly cemented its position as THE premier Japanese restaurant at the casino. That was, until Nobu opened downstairs with much fanfare. With the opening of Nobu, people have wondered whether Koko would survive but I think the fact that it’s still drawing in a decent crowd during Thursday lunches is a testament to what they can do. Mind you, I actually hated the place back in yr.9. I thought the sushi was “not bad, but not worth $50” and I was still hungry afterward, so I happily ran off to Maccas to fill my stomach up. Curious to see if anything has changed, I picked this place for lunch today.

Stepping through the rock pool, located in the middle of the room (haha, rock pool!), we were shown to a table by the window which was a plus one for me (yay for natural lighting!). We were given the a la carte menu (teppanyaki is also available on a separate menu) and informed of the $42 two-course lunch special where you could use anything off the a la carte menu except for the ones marked with an asterisk (usually high-end dishes such as lobster, foie gras etc), plus you got a bowl of miso and steamed rice. That sounded good to us, so off we went.

Iced water to start us off. I also ordered a glass of ‘Tsunami‘ ($8.50) which was a fizzy sake-based iced drink flavoured with lychees. Exactly what I needed on a warm day like today.

An amuse bouche of pickled octopus with cumber and bonito. A light refreshing morsel to start off the proceedings (though I did find the octopus a little on the soft side…).

Adam’s entree: hotate misoyaki. Three grilled scallops rested on an, in my opinion, overly excessive bed of sea salts. They looked like they were doused in some cheese sauce (i.e. a homage to those cheesy oysters at yum cha, I thought) but the yellow sauce was actually a sweet miso mustard sauce which heightened the naturally sweet flavour of the scallops. I don’t normally go for sweet dishes, but I thought this one was pretty good.
My entree: gyuniku tataki. I received a generous serving of seared beef fillets topped with a strong yuzu kosho dressing. On one hand, I liked the wonderful peppery and tangy dressing which pwns all over the one that was used to dress Nobu’s version of the tataki but on the other hand, I did feel that it was a smidgen too strong for the delicate beef which was already flavoursome on its own.

You may be wondering why the photos are looking a bit ‘shady.’ I take back what I said about sitting by the window. At this stage, the sun was directly facing us which made photo-taking pretty much impossible. And I didn’t bring my UV filter either. Efffffff…

“Oh noes, BHP’s share price is going down! AAAAAAAAARGH!”


Adam’s main: wagyu yanagawa. Reminiscent of the popular Mongolian beef, fine slices of wagyu were cooked and presented on a clay plate and served with a delicate soy mirin sauce with shiitake, enoki and shimeji mushrooms, leeks and spring onion. What I really liked about this dish was digging into the tangles of wagyu strips and finding a runny free-range yolk sitting in the middle of the plate. Mixing the egg with the beef and the sauce, it was a pleasure to eat. I liked that the sauce did not bog down the natural flavour of the wagyu too. Good choice, Ads.

My main: assorted sushi. I don’t know why I chose this dish, particularly since I didn’t like it 10 years ago. I guess I was curious to see what my better-trained palate would think but in hindsight, it was a huge mistake. By all means, there was nothing terrible about the sushi. The presentation was fine, each little morsel (of tuna, kingfish, salmon, and prawn) would be given a credit grade at cooking school. They just didn’t do it for me like Shira Nui or Shoya did. And the fish wasn’t as fresh as Shoya’s. Wrong choice, Libs.

Oh, I do realise that getting a rice and a bowl of miso seems a little odd when one is ordering sushi as a main. I did shovel pretty much half of Adam’s dish into my rice though, which worked out well for me.


He eats.

The total bill was $92.50 but we got it down to $69.40 with the Entertainment Book discount. After today’s visit, I would be more inclined to visit Koko again to try their teppanyaki menu and maybe try their seafood mains. I won’t touch the sushi again though. As for prior concerns about having to compete with Nobu? Frankly, I don’t think Koko needs to worry. Sure, Allan Koh’s Chinese background shows in his dishes and while some might argue that Koko is not 100% ‘authentic’ in that regard, it is 10 billion times better than Nobu.

Random: They now sell Krispy Kremes at Safeway, QV. What the?!?!
I eat too much.

8 Comments

  1. MelbourneRain
    October 22, 2009

    The food tasted chinese! However it was good chinese πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. DivisionSix6
    October 22, 2009

    LOL @ MelbourneRain and the food tasting Chinese!KKs, haven’t had those in about a year and a half hrmmmm.

    Reply
  3. peach_water
    October 22, 2009

    MMMMM sashimi! <3Oh, RMIT finishes officially in week 12, and we have week 13 as our swotvac, and that’s it. If your exams fall straight after swotvac.. then.. 1 week of studying πŸ™ which is me! 1 week! for 3 subjects :(WTH krispy Kreme in safeway?! LOL. How is wordpress coming along for you? Are you designing your own theme or you going to go with a ready made one? Did you also purchase a domain?Sorry about all the questions. I get all excited when it comes to web design haha.

    Reply
  4. SNSAZN
    October 26, 2009

    @peach_water – Yeah, I’m glad I don’t have your exam timetable!I’m currently using a boring-looking ready-made theme, which works well for a food blog (don’t want too many things clogging it up). I really want to make a custom one but I can’t be bothered learning about how to make one from scratch at this point in time. As for purchasing a domain… I would like to, but again, not at this stage.

    Reply
  5. peach_water
    October 27, 2009

    @SNSAZN – I know! my exam timetable is horrible! 27th, 28th, 29th and 10th!If you ever want a theme designed, I more than happy to design you one :)It’ll be a portfolio piece.I’m also thinking of opening up a wordpress blog so I can work on my portfolio site. I’ll probably need to buy a domain!

    Reply
  6. SNSAZN
    October 27, 2009

    @peach_water – Eeeek, I hope the one you had today went well! I’ll link you my wordpress site when the majority of its contents are up and ask for suggestions and opinions. I *think* you do have to pay a small fee if you want to create your own custom CSS though which has sorta put me off… :(Good luck with the rest of your exams!

    Reply
  7. peach_water
    October 27, 2009

    @SNSAZN – πŸ™‚ The exam for today went a lot better than I thought. I had a panic attack on Saturday, thinking I would fail because nothing would sink even after all my study notes and also attempting the set questions.I managed to cram in revision from study guide and also more revision questions from the textbook. Also luckily I went to consultation with my lecturer and attempting past exam papers helped! Coz one of the questions worth 25 marks was a question in one of the previous exams.OMG, this male fob who i’m friends with (surprised?) had past exams up til 2003! I was like O_O how on earth did you get them!But anway, I think I did relatively alright. I should pass this time!Also, I should be ok with the rest of the exams, all my lecturers are awesome this semester :)Yeah, I’ll give you good constructive criticism for your site! Just a suggestion if you have already worked on customizing the colours, is to make sure the background isn’t pitch black and red. This will have better readability, and it wont burn the eyes! You don’t want people running away from your site. Red is a no-no generally in terms of media, because it tends to “bleed”.I know your xanga is black, so hopefully I dont offend you there! If you really like the dark themes, my suggestion is that, you should try a few shades lighter than black. :)Yeah, that’s the bad thing about using the free version of wordpress.If you’re thinking of having customized wordpress in the future i would suggest you to purchase your own domain and space with SQL enabled, so that you can download wordpress for free and install it. Very easy πŸ™‚ done it 10 times already!

    Reply
  8. SNSAZN
    October 27, 2009

    @peach_water – Good job with your exam! I believe that you’ll be fine this semester. Hopefully no more stuff ups from the lecturers *fingers crossed* I also have to wonder why only certain students in your course manage to get exam papers while others don’t. That really sucks. I would be so livid if I were you.Yeah, I decided to go for a plain white background for wordpress… already, the food photos stand out more. I should probably change my xanga background colour too but I’ve had it on black for so long that I feel somewhat weird changing it… but yeah, plain white for wordpress. I just want to keep it simple and clean. There aren’t many ready-made themes to choose from and the only one I REALLY like has unfortunately been taken by tummyrumbles. I suppose I could use the same one but I’d feel bad using it and people will think that I’m copying tummyrumbles, so I had to go with another one that wasn’t as good (but still better than the other options). Re: purchasing my own domain, I guess I’ll have to do more research into it… the money factor also plays a part too… hmmmm…

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *