First it was big-hitting Greek flavours with The Apollo, now the dynamic duo of chef Jonathan Barthelmess and Longrain restaurateur Sam Christie shifts its focus to Japanese cuisine with the opening tonight of their second joint venture in Sydney's Potts Point, Cho Cho San. Barthelmess will divide his time between the two restaurants, while Ester alumnus Nic Wong will be in the kitchen full-time. "He and I just went to Tokyo to put all the finishing touches on the menu and gain some more inspiration," says Barthelmess.
Among the go-to dishes on the opening menu are raw scallops with corn, nori purée and house-cured smoked bonito shaved over the top, the miso-dressed cod hot from the hibachi grill and the yakitori. Barthelmess also singles out the tofu, which is warmed through in a light tomato consommé and seasoned with tamari and tempura crumbs. "It's like our way of doing agedashi tofu but using different flavours to balance it out." He also has a soft spot for the toasted spanner crab buns, and the ginger custard. "I'm liking everything, though," he says, "I don't know where to start."
Loosely modelled along izakaya lines, Cho Cho San is as much about the booze as it is the fun casual eats. "Half the restaurant is a dining bar," says Barthelmess. "We want to create a drinking culture in the restaurant so we've got a massive sake list, a big whisky list, a really good wine list, and we'll be having a lot of fun with the cocktails as well.
"Sam and I wanted to open another restaurant and we both love the Japanese culture," he says. "We spent a bit of time over there over the last year, loved the drinking culture and dining culture, and wanted to do our version of it."
Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay St, Potts Point, NSW, (02) 9331 6601
Looking for more Sydney dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Sydney.