May 11, 2018
Just next door to the perennially packed Toko Restaurant and Bar, Tokonoma turns down the pace a notch. A slick lounge bar designed in a similar vein to its mod-Orient-inspired neighbour (think: a sleek, airy space that draws the eye to several bold wall features), Tokonoma invites guests to kick back and let the cocktails do the talking. Shochu, a distilled Japanese spirit typically made from rice, is the favoured spirit here, and forms the basis of many house cocktails. Take care this stuff is lethal. An extensive list of sakes (not to mention whiskeys, amongst a dizzying array of other exotic spirits) are also on offer, but if you’ve come for the cocktails, this is the place to take a step out of your comfort zone. The Japanese Gibson, a blend of gin, dry vermouth and Japanese vinegar, garnished with a pickled onion, is a characterful, grown-up choice for adventurous palates, while others prefer the lip-smacking freshness of the bar’s wildly popular Lycee and Jasmine Mojito. Conveniently, food is available here too patrons can order from the same modern Japanese dinner menu as Toko, from spicy endamame snacks to the 12-course tsuchi (tasting menu). Drawing a mixed crowd of hip urbanites, suits and arty students befitting its cool Surry Hills locale, Tokonoma generally fills up on weekends, and noise levels can get a bit much. If you prefer to quietly savour your $20 craft cocktail (there is wine and beer available for those on a budget), visit midweek.