As a part of my recent food adventures in Sydney, we headed out to Kings Cross to try out Cho Cho San. This was my first time in Kings Cross, I’ve never been there before. I’ve heard a lot about it and seen it on TV but never visited, it’s not really my scene but it does have plenty of good food, so this time, I decided to trek out and give it a try. I honestly was a bit hesitant about it still, blame my vulnerability to media spin, and played it safe and went on a Monday. Ouk has been to Kings Cross before, apparently he had a Groupon for a Brazilian BBQ joint a couple years back and he had a couple of interesting stories about his time there. The bouncers in Kings Cross are apparently pretty interesting guys! Anyways, we learnt that if you head out the Victoria Street exit, you don’t have to see any of the stuff Kings Cross is famous for and Victoria Street is where all the food joints are including Ms.G’s so yeah we didn’t really see too much of that reputation at all.
Anyways, we headed out onto Victoria Street and began walking towards Cho Cho San, its about a 10 minute walk, unless you get lost like us. We headed up and down Macleay Street, we even ended up behind Cho Cho San on Rockwell Lane, it really didn’t help that we were running late for our booking. Cho Cho San doesn’t really have any street signage so we just never really saw it. The only signage was inside the restaurant! So if you’re walking past you have to be looking through Cho Cho San’s glass door to see its sign! Not cool when you’re rushing. I think it’s also next to an art gallery or something. It’s in a pretty historical looking building that’s bluish or greyish. Hope this helps someone else find Cho Cho San. Once you get in, its a simple lay out, quite industrial, no colour just white, greys and pretty clinical. Or modern, I think it’s referred to as modern. There’s quite a bit of seating once you walk in, there are a couple of tables for medium to bigger groups and plenty of seats for two people. We managed to get a table instead of a bar spot, which was good for me because I always have heaps of takeaway food from places we ate at earlier in the day.
Anyways less rambling, time for food talk.
First up, the Beef tataki ($18) with wild rice and ginger dressing. Firstly I feel like I should throw down an all encompassing general comment, and it is this: The food at Cho Cho San was amazing! I didn’t know much about Cho Cho San, I saw a couple of pictures online once, liked them and decided to check it out hence I had no idea what I was in for. I wasn’t even sure it was Japanese until I got there. Boy was I impressed, everything at Cho Cho San was delicious including this tataki. I don’t get these much and the few times I have, I didn’t really enjoy it, I almost always prefer tartare, but this time was very different. My previous experiences tended to be too salty and not very tasty. Here at Cho Cho San it was quite the opposite.
The meat was amazingly fresh and super soft, I barely had a chew it. There was just enjoy soy on the beef to give it some amazing flavours but it was really quite a simple dish. There was also a hint of ginger to it but very mild and only really came out as an aftertaste. Underneath the generous amount of beef, there was some wonderful black rice. I’ve had black rice a couple of times before, mainly in this Vietnamese dessert that I used to always have but I never knew it could be used for anything else. Here, it added a great deal of charcoal flavours to the beef which was a great smokiness to what was essentially raw beef. It’s also much tougher in texture compared to white, brown or multigrain rice which was a good thing because it added some great texture and crunch to the meat. As it was wild rice instead of just standard black rice there were also bits of that puffy cereal rice that you find in oats or granola. It added some wheat flavours which played of perfectly with the smokiness of the black rice. Such an amazing dish. Every element worked and made it better and better!
Next up the Soy glazed wagyu beef ($36). We were initally toosing up getting this or the Japanese style charcoal chicken, and boy am I glad we went with the wagyu! I’ve eaten a lot of steaks, and this, to be realistic, isn’t really a standard steak as you’d normally get in a standard steakhouse, even a good one. With that said, this is the best steak I’ve ever eaten. Apparently the wagyu is a grade 9, the menu doesn’t state this, we only found out because we asked the staff at Cho Cho San to give us a recommendation on whether to go with the chicken or wagyu and it came out while he was explaining our options. I find this really awesome because most places will just rave and make a huge fuss about how they have grade 7 wagyu so the fact that Cho Cho San uses grade 9 and doesn’t even feel like talking about it really said something about the quality of food they’re aiming for and I appreciated that. Grade 9 is standard for them, not amazing.
This steak was amazing. It was the most tender steak I’ve ever had, almost like a slowly smoked brisket, but not quite. I barely had to chew this, it just broke apart so easily and melted away in your mouth, the marinade did a great job of breaking down the fibers of this meat without sacrificing any of the taste. There was also so much flavour to it, this wasn’t just a normal salt and pepper job, I wouldn’t really be able to explain the marinade but it had oyster and soy sauce overtones to it that were just wonderful. You could still tasty the meaty goodness of the wagyu, the soy here just accentuates the flavour of the meat, but didn’t take anything away at all.
Look at the redness of the wagyu. I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to steaks, I just like them rare, or blue, anything more than that and I’m probably not going to love it. The one at Cho Cho San though, was cooked perfectly rare. Another thing I wanted to pay particular attention to was the wonderful marbling of fat within this steak, there was a maze of thick fatty deliciousness throughout and the char barely made a mark on the rest of the flesh. Every piece was like this, it was almost 30% fatty goodness and this was just huge for flavour. If I had to guess, this cow didn’t do anything, it ate well, live well and then fed us well. Simply amazing, and I salute the cow for its sacrifice! I did find this a little hard to see while I was at Cho Cho San. They do the whole low lighting fancy restaurant thing, so I didn’t notice the fat. Ouk had to point it out and even then I struggled but it came out of lot better via this photo. If you like steak, beef, or even soy sauce. You’ve got to try out this dish.
The dish also came with a few spices and condiments. The orange stuff was like a chilli flake mixture. The yellow stuff was pure horseradish and finally the green was a ball of wasabi. We didn’t end up using any of the condiments on the beef. Outside of the fact that we don’t really like spicy things, the meat but didn’t need it. It was simply too good on its own. Even if I enjoyed chilli foods I would think twice before using these, I really wouldn’t want them to overpower the flavours and taste of the soy beef.
Our final dish for the day, the Tuna with avocado and pickled eggplants ($22). I think Cho Cho San forgot this dish, we had to ask for it. I felt kind of bad, it was way past last orders when we noticed. They didn’t make a fuss about it or anything, they didn’t even ask us if we still wanted it or were happy to cancel it. About 10 minutes after we asked, this plate came out. The tuna was perfect, fresh and delicious. The tuna sat on a bed of pureed avocado with bits of pickled eggplant here and there. The avocado was great adding lovely flavour and creaminess to the tuna. The pickled eggplants were very strong and flavourful. Didn’t taste great on its on but a little bit of eggplant with a couple of diced bits of tuna and some avocado puree worked great. The saltiness of the eggplant with the creaminess of the avocado, all on the perfect base of tuna.
Finally, we grabbed a Banana soft serve ($7) with peanuts and caramel. This was awesome! Not only does it look great, but it tasted amazing too. The soft serve was pleasant and sweet but not overly so and sickening. There was a lovely banana scent and flavour to the soft serve but for once its not the artificial banana flavour, it was real! This reminded me of a simple dessert my mum use to make for us in summer. She would get finger bananas that had gone past it and were too ripe. She would flatten them and coat one side with coconut cream and salted crushed peanuts and then freeze it. This soft serve tasted exactly the same, just a different texture I guess. A much better one actually, so I essentially got the best of both worlds in this treat. Delicious banana and creamy and smooth soft serve. Plus the soft serve had a little bit of caramel and crushed peanuts on it as well. Talk about nostalgia!
I really had no idea what I was in for when I decided to eat at Cho Cho San but boy am I glad that I did! Everything was simply delicious, fresh and too notch. If you love your raw goodies like tuna, salmon, scallop and what not. This is definitely worth a visit. If you like good steaks and spending money, then I could not recommend a better place. I guess Cho Cho San really has something for everyone. There are veggie plates as well! Definitely worth the trek out to Potts Point for!