Isabelle Comber

New approach: Japanese and French flavours dominate Tokonoma's menu.
New approach: Japanese and French flavours dominate Tokonoma's menu. Photo: Supplied

Hidden down an alley off Bridge Street in the city centre is a black door that leads to Tokonoma.

A more refined and mature offering from the owner of Crown Street's Toko, Tokonoma inhabits a peaceful space under street level. Simple and relaxed, the restaurant features streamlined design with a menu built from seasonal flavours.

"With Tokonoma, we wanted to make this a more personalised, exclusive and seasonal offering," owner Matt Yazbek says. "Toko is such a beast that motors along, but with this we can take the time. Every season the menu will change - as soon as something's out of season it will be off the menu."

Wagyu at Tokonoma.
Wagyu at Tokonoma. Photo: Supplied

Significantly smaller than Toko's menu, Tokonoma's list of offerings is dominated by Japanese and French flavours. Traditional edamame has its place beside more unusual fusions such as honey bug nigiri with foie gras and soy jelly.

The menu features fresh signatures such as NSW oysters with wakame and tosazu and whimsical touches such as popcorn shrimp with spicy mayonnaise.

"We don't have cold rooms here - [produce] is purely brought in that day," Yazbek says. "It's prepped and if it runs out, it runs out. Just being able to obtain the best produce that we can obtain can make it work in this venue that wouldn't work in Toko."

Drinks on offer include a growing selection of Japanese whiskeys, Japanese and Australian beers and a dry signature sake with light ginger flavours - along with a few variations of Jack Daniels, the owner's favourite.

The original Toko on Crown Street opened in 2007. Toko Dubai opened last year.

Tokonoma Sydney, basement, 44 Bridge Street, Sydney, (02) 9251 8185, tokonoma-sydney.com.