I was flipping through The Weekend Edition online to divert from my usual sources of dining inspiration (aka Urbanspoon and The Urban List). I jotted down some new cafes to try and then stumbled across a review of a new Japanese restaurant in Paddington. I wasn't interested at first because it seems to me that Marc and I have been to plenty of Japanese restaurants recently... until... I saw a mention of avocado macaron.
WEeooooOOoooOohhh!!!! Whilst the macaron phase might be teetering towards the end of its popularity streak, I haven't been able to produce a batch successfully so I still find them cool and mysterious, not to mention tasty too. Add a mention of avocado and I'm THERE. Avocado smoothies are my downfall at Asian beverage outlets and I sort of imagined an avo-flavored macaron to be along that vein. I didn't even bother looking at the rest of the menu before I made the booking.
Kokoro is located in the Iceworks building where Given Terrace turns into Caxton Street (corner Castlemain St). We had no trouble finding the restaurant but were devastated when we realized we'd forgotten our wine! The place is apparently BYO with a $10 corkage fee but since we forgot, we ended up getting a bottle of red at the resaurant.
I liked the fit out of the restaurant, which managed to feature distinctly Japanese elements but kept funky with the neon blue lighting and large bar.
The menu is described as 'modern Japanese' and I think that's an accurate representation of what's on offer. There are traditional favorites, some with quirky twists, along with a couple of dishes that seemed unique to Kokoro.
Agedashi tofu - with grated radish, spring onion, dried bonito, nori and tsuyu broth
We ordered a few smaller dishes and one of the mains to share. The agedashi tofu came first. It was one of my requests because I don't think it's something Marc would normally order (there's no meat involved) but I thought he might like it. The tofu was lovely and light with a delicately crunchy batter. I loved the broth that accompanied it too. Beautiful!
Assorted sashimi - with tuna, salmon kingfish and tamagoyaki
The sashimi platter was devoured quite radically. It wasn't the largest platter we've seen, in terms of quantity, but the fish was quite fresh.
We ordered some karaage as well. This ended up being my favorite dish of the night. The chicken nuggets were perfectly cooked without a hint of dryness. The exterior was crunchy and delicious and I loved the combination of lemony, juicy chicken with mayonaise and sweet soy.
Beef nimono - sweet soy braised beef with radish, carrot, chickpea and garlic mousse, and crispy leek
Our main was the beef nimono, which I chose because the menu description sounded interesting. Unfortunately I found this dish extremely inedible! It tasted like beef-flavored rubber to me, i.e. a piece of meat that would normally be used to flavor stock and then discarded. It was so tough, I couldn't believe it was being served at a restaurant. Marc came to its defense and said that it wasn't 'tough' as per se, just 'chewy'. Whatever! I don't recommend this dish.
We finished on what drew me to the restaurant in the first place. Dessert! I was sufficiently tipsy by this point to insist on 2 dessert items. Marc being the obliging boyfriend that he is eventually resisted.
Avocado macaron creme brulee
I was mighty curious about the avocado macaron, not just about how it would taste but also about how Marc would receive it. He hates avocado and makes insulting remarks about people who like it (myself included). He boldly bit into a piece, reasoning that he bet it would just taste like any other macaron he's tried: sugar-flavored. He turned out to be right! I couldn't detect avocado in this but it was indeed sugary. I was slightly disappointed but Marc was probably relieved. I'm also not sure what the reference to creme brulee is, aside from the piece of toffee.
Green tea ice-cream fritter
Our other dessert choice was the green tea ice cream fritter. By the time it got to us, the fritter wasn't the most attractive of desserts. However, I thought this was much tastier than our other choice. As a child, I was obsessed with green tea ice-cream. As a teenager, fried ice-cream was one of my favorite vices. This was literally a marriage of those two ideas... a deep-fried, battered ball of green tea ice-cream! There's no way it could have gone wrong for me.
Kokoro had a couple of misses with the food but overall, we had a good experience. I think if I didn't taste that beef nimono, I would've raved about this place! My favorites were the tofu and karaage but the green tea ice-cream dessert was good too. Our staff were very nice and I liked the dining environment.