Toko Melbourne is Matt Yazbek’s fourth restaurant. The sprawling space features a sushi bar, traditional Japanese tatami room for private dining, indoor and outdoor bars and a whisky room. The concept is based on the Japanese izakaya, a place to enjoy an after-work drink and share a bite to eat with friends.
There are 60 sakes to get you into the spirit, including Toko’s signature drop, Tokubetsu Junmai. In the outdoor bar the focus is on cocktails with some clever Japanese twists. There’s the tangy Yuzu Gimlet and a Sashimi Tini, made with shiro shochu, West Winds gin and ginger liquer, served with a wasabi-dipped skewer of raw salmon.
At the sushi bar you can watch the chefs work throughout service, prepping your sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls to order. The food is designed to share, and the extensive menu works from bite-sized dishes to more filling meals. Try the marinated lamb cutlets, with chilli miso and pickled eggplant, or the tenaga ebi no nigiri – scampi nigiri with foie gras and truffle oil.
Then there’s the whisky room. With red fabric wallpaper and a striking cinderblock bar, the space feels distinctly different to the rest of the restaurant. It offers a selection of 41 rare and premium whiskeys. Some, such as Ichiro's Malt, aren't even made any more.