Sunday, April 10, 2011
Toku Toku, Glebe
Named after the sound of sake as it's poured into glass, Toku Toku is a new izakaya in Glebe. As you'd expect, a shortage of Japanese alcohol is not one of its problems. It's an inviting spot on Glebe Point Road – an airy space with big windows, black-stained timber and high-patterned cushions; the courtyard even has a goldfish pond and small footbridge.
The menu is as fun as the name of this sake/wine bar, despite a few dishes being a tad off-key. Tomato, Tomato, Tomato ($14) is a cute take on your Caprese salad, although the Italians probably never used mozzarrella as target practice for tall noodle strands. Will liked the thick pool of balsamic vinegar that the salad was slicked with; I found it too intense; for me, the pesto was better at adding zip to the cherry tomatoes and creamy cheese.
The Mixed Mushrooms ($16) were also a debate-starter; Will dismissed them as too rich, but I liked the buttery-miso sauce that the clusters of enoki and shiitake had been sauteed in. The Wagyu Steak ($23), with delicious yuzu-zingy dipping sauce, Crispy Pork Belly with mustard and chilli-bean sauce and Soyu Warm Cabbage ($14) all passed the clean-plate test with no argument. All of them were great, especially the cabbage salad, which I was initially skeptical about (anything cooked in truffle oil – that highly synthetic, tastebud-strangling flavour that's the yuppie equivalent of MSG – is unquestionably gross), but it was surprisingly subtle, with hints of many flavours – rather than the mono-taste of truffle oil. The tangle of chilli-spiked strands and deep-fried onions were good bonus company.
Will and I were on the same side about the Spicy Edamame; I'd ordered it thinking it'd be like the brilliant chilli-soy edamame at Cafe Ish, but it was just shichimi heavily sprinkled over bean pods. People with less wussy temperaments might enjoy this dish more, but after eating enough spice-flecked edamame to advance to uncomfortable stages of lip-burning, we'd be happy to order the plain version next time.
We also agreed that the Tempura Mars Bar was lots of fun: equal parts delicious and high-calorie shamelessness. Let's face it, it's pretty much guaranteed that battered and fried chocolate (hiding a bonus seam of caramel) is going to be awesome. Toku Toku smartly serves it in three snack-sized bars with sliced strawberry. This is the perfect amount between two people; this well-rationed caramel-sticky dosage is all you want.
This izakaya has only been open for three weeks and perhaps that's why it hasn't hit smooth-running mode yet. After several checks to make sure the staff hadn't forgotten about it, our edamame arrived long after we'd finished all our other dishes. It's especially odd as it's usually a starter and is not a labour-intensive snack at all. And the tempura Mars Bar took an incredibly long time to appear.
The wait staff were quite nice and apologetic about it, and I imagine things will be seamless given some time. (Also, there was a pretty big party the night we went; that probably slowed the kitchen down.) Despite the odd imperfections, Toku Toku is a nice addition to Glebe. We stuck to unadventurous drinks for the night, but we'd like to come back and hear the sound of sake hitting glass for ourselves.
Toku Toku, 36 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW (02) 9660 9636