From left: Sam Christie, Nicholas Wong and Jonathan Barthelmess of Cho Cho San. Photo: James Brickwood
The Apollo team has ventured into Japanese bar food and it's great fun. Located just down the road from their sleek Greek diner, Jonathan Barthelmess and Sam Christie's (really) shiny new restaurant has no shortage of sake, steamed buns and seafood to satisfy Potts Point punters.
Barthelmess and Christie have enlisted Nicholas Wong (ex-Rockpool, Billy Kwong, and Ester) as head chef. Much like The Apollo, this is food designed to share (the chopsticks are even double-ended so you've got one end for your gob and the other to load your plate with tempura okra). Petuna ocean trout with black pepper and wasabi ($22) tastes as clean as a whistle, and is nicely zapped up by the pepper. A spanner crab steamed bun ($12) is a treat with good-sized flecks of crab dressed in chive butter and topped with crisp potato batons resembling those French Fries chips once found in vending machines everywhere. The bun is more classic brioche than Momofuku trending and all power to it.
At the heavier end of the daily changing menu there are many "definitely-coming-back-for-that" numbers like whole mud crab with Japanese curry ($80), mussels in sake and kimchi ($22), and a 700g teriyaki T-bone with onion salad ($60).
Cho Cho San features double-ended chopsticks and flashes of gold.
There's a green tea soft-serve waffle cone ($6) on the sweets menu, which sounds awesome for summer but in the clutches of winter, steamed yuzu pudding with cream and house-made marmalade is more seasonable. Perfect to eat at a spot by the window as you play Count the Burberry Trench on Macleay Street.
The staff are all super helpful and the background dance music is the kind of stuff that sounds like the second glass of semillon on a summer's day. While on that topic, the drinks list is a stand out with a 25-strong sake list and loads of unusual wines to explore.
George Livissianis (he who is responsible for the polished sexiness of The Apollo and Longrain) has redesigned the old Paramount site to look something like Goldfinger's swinging Scandi hideout for the 21st century. There's a Fort-Knox-heavy gold door, gold chopstick holders, and gold clipboards for the menu. With the exception of these flashy indulgences it's a light, minimalist space with Japanese and European influences. A slab of polished concrete that's been chiselled into a bar is the room's focal point and the lighting is soft and welcoming.
Cho Cho San plans to open for lunch service in the coming weeks (initially they're only doing dinner) and the idea of long lunch with mates in the naturally lit room is quite enticing indeed.
Details: Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay Street, Potts Point, 02 9331 6601, Tues-Sun 6pm-late, bookings taken.