Cho Cho San – it’s hip, hot, and on the blossoming Potts Point food strip. The name comes from Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, the butterfly being CioCio-san. Like many operas it is a tragedy, but there is no tragedy to be found in this relatively new, neutrally coloured izakaya, started by the team behind Apollo. Already heaving when we arrive at 6.20pm on a Tuesday night – a Nursery Hour first sitting allows them to turn the tables – we hope we won’t be too rushed to get through all the dishes we want to try.
Having picked up a Hat in the 2015 Good Food Guide Awards, the hot-factor has been turned up another notch, and it’s not easy to get a table, and fortunately we’d booked several weeks before. As you enter you see a long communal table, circumferenced by smaller ones, but we, being a group of 6, are ushered to a great semi private annexe.
My photos aren’t the best, but I do think that has something to do with the Ginger Ninja and Nippy Rockshop I downed before the food (do check out the cocktails). You might need my dictionary for some of the ingredients. We ordered a la carte, but there is also a $65 banquet menu.
We begin with the fried eggplant miso. First of all, its deep friend. Second its got miso. Third, there’s eggplant in there somewhere. What’s not to love?
We then try a few dishes from the raw section, beginning with the hiramasa kingfish with daikon and soy. Simple and fresh.
Next the hokkaido ccallops with the pureed corn and house-cured katsuboshi. Don’t know if it was the last ingredient, but this dish didn’t do it for me.
Then what I thought was the star of the raws we tried, beef tataki with wild rice and ginger dressing.
Onto the hot food – udon noodles with pork and chilli. These were $15 and I thought it was a pretty freekin’ awesome, you can sometimes pay that for not so great noodles in a food court. If they had a little food truck in the CBD that sold these takeaway…….just putting that out there.
Our next hot dish was the king crab omelette with Japanese curry. It’s a mild curry, not spicy, and this also got a big tick.
Soy glazed wagyu beef – tender and a balanced soy, with some green beans to make us feel like we were being good and eating our vegetables.
The next two dishes were the lamb cutlets with chilli and Sancho, and prawns with kombu. I got overruled, did not want to order the lamb, but I did choose the prawns; both of these I thought classified as “get anywhere” sort of dishes – the lamb cutlets were just, well, lamb cutlets and prawns had a bit of seasoning but I didn’t think either of these had anything unique on the flavour stakes.
For desert, we tried the Cho Cho Snow – shaved ice with custard and the ginger syrup – which has seemed to polarise people. Me, I was a fan of the flavour combination and the texture. The birthday girl I was with tried the Banana Soft Serve which she declared was better than a birthday cake (maybe ‘cause we didn’t buy her one, sorry).
If there was one complaint, it was from the blokes, who said the beer-to-glass-ratio was out of whack. You don’t give someone a 650ml beer can and a small glass, apparently.
So the clever team have done Greek, done Japanese, what’s next?
Cho Cho San, 73 Macleay Street, Potts Point, ph 02 9331 6601