Cho Cho San

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Jonathan Barthlemess and his assembled A-team have taken Macleay St by storm, again. This time with a touch of Japanese flair, Cho Cho San has taken over the former Shogun restaurant site replacing old world Japanese with new. Potts Point has always been a delectable melting pot of restaurants and bars so a new opening like this is always looked keenly upon. Strolling towards the restaurant, CCS is lit up like a beacon, attracting hipsters like moths to a flame. The media has certainly done a great job creating a stir around this place. I was almost surprised not to see a mob at the door clamouring to get in.

Skipping straight to dessert! The rather lush steamed yuzu pudding, perfect for this cool blustery weather. The yuzu in this dish served as a little palette cleanser. Topped with cream to seal the deal

Let me just put it out there that this is a gorgeous restaurant, with minimalist hues of white, birch ply and bare concrete. Employing once again, the services of interior designer George Livissianis who has rendered one of the most photogenic restaurants in town. The backlit ceiling is punctuated with perforated beams which hide the air conditioning and audio system, also acting as sound absorbers. The soundtrack, as if straight from my own playlist (weird) features SBTRKT, Glass Animals and Lorde. So far, CCS is getting big ticks.

The geometry of the table settings; the food is certainly designed to share

Following the successes of The Apollo, Cho Cho San takes loose inspiration from Japanese cuisine which has been rejigged into something rather new and exciting. Combining the very best seafood Australia has to offer with more traditional techniques of pickling (all. the. rage.) and grilling over a hibachi; Barthelmess has created a menu that is adaptable. Be it for some casual drinks at the bar with snacks or a veritable feast, it all works. Mind you, the good stuff doesn't come cheap (but what does in Sydney these days). What's more, they open 7 days so you can maximise your chances of getting a table (so not kidding here). Failing that they're also open for lunch Fri-Sun. 

Down the barrel, communal dining at its best. The bar seats have little bag hooks so all your devices are within easy reach, haha Credit: Hayley Morgan for Two Thousand

Already, in its early days there are some crowd favourites. I had read the high praise for the fried chicken alone (done) in Gourmet Traveller and seen their soft-serve cones all over Instagram and the like. Initially a vibrant green tea version, the ice cream and the menu have had a few seasonal tweaks to change things up. The service was excellent, and staff were happy to accommodate for dietary requirements at the table. It was all good fun going through the procession of dishes we had ordered (crazies), almost like a custom degustation. Roll up!

From the raw bar: Petuna ocean trout, black pepper and wasabi (left) and Tuna, avocado and pickled eggplant (right). Both of these dishes were delicious, not only because I am a total sucker for sashimi. Sliced to order, the fish was of phenomenal freshness and quality. I probably could have polished them off myself!

Fried Chicken. Simple in name but there are some subtleties to delivering one this good.  There's a lot more finesse involved in creating a dish like this. Tender and juicy chicken, still succulent and piping hot with a familiar crispy, crunch on the outside. Be warned, the wasabi mayo is addictive

Prawn buns (left) and fried miso eggplant (right). No boa for us, these prawn buns were super tasty, I think fresh prawns and kewpie had a lot to do with that. But at $9 a piece...REALLY?! The eggplant was a nice dish but I tend to prefer the more traditional version  of nasu dengaku (miso glazed roasted eggplant)

Japanese charcoal chicken, read: spatchcock. The bird was cooked really well, with a delicious black charry crust (the best bit). Finger lickin' good

King crab omelette, Japanese curry. A very mild curry flavour allows the crab to shine through. The egg was also nice and soft, not overcooked and dense

Teriyaki T-bone, onion salad. Simply delicious, mop up the dark soy sauce and let the meat do the talking. Thank goodness it came ready carved

Miso cod, celery, ginger (left) and brown rice, shitake mushroom, egg (right). The former dish sort of faded into the background compared to some of the more tasty dishes. The cod was cooked well but none of the miso really came through over the burnt crust. And at $40, was rather meagre. The fried rice was respectable, and a good way to marry everything together

Two green lights: banana soft-serve cone, peanut, caramel. I make no apologies for the amount of food we managed to order. The ice cream was the perfect way to finish the meal. The salted caramel was perfectly balanced but still allowing the banana flavour to come through. Bringing out the inner child in each of us - a triumph!

Cho Cho snow: ginger custard topped with shaved ice, jackfruit. A nice little number but I was a bit distracted by the ice creams. Sorry

In all its bright and spangly newness, Cho Cho San is the place to be. An oasis all in white and timber, CCS represents a rather exciting venture in Potts Point. Offering a rather watered down version of Japanese cuisine, this is dining for the well-to-do masses. Ultimately, the variety of dishes and balance in flavours wins you over - it's almost all too easy. When The Apollo burst onto the scene, critics were quick to sing its praises for bringing a renewed energy and innovation to the dining scene. I think it might be time for round two! 

Cho Cho San, positively glowing Credit: Tom Ferguson for Yellow Trace

Thanks for reading!
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  1. the food looks good! can't wait to visit next week :)

  2. I didn't order any of the grill items when I went but that massive T-bone looks delicious!



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