Flower Drum, Melbourne

The thought of Chinese restaurants brings back old memories of grand banquets and traditional weddings at the esteemed Marigold and Dragon Star restaurants (when the latter was still operating) in Sydney’s bustling Chinatown. The delicious, crispy crack of suckling pig skin and wobbly jelly noodles, messy sang choy bow and fragrant whole steamed fish come flooding back into mind.

Menya Mappen, Sydney CBD

There is nothing quite like the sound of slurping noodles, or men (めん) in Japanese, at a meal time. There is no food group that is quite like the humble noodle. Whether eaten in a hot soup, served cold with a delicious dipping sauce, or fragrantly stir fried, noodles are a carbohydrate that I will never get sick of.

Cho Cho San, Potts Point

You may wonder where the name comes from. Cho Cho san (cho cho meaning butterfly in Japanese) is the geisha heroine of the famous opera, Madama Butterfly. Branching away from traditional Japanese cuisine, this Potts Point izakaya, based on an informal style of Japanese dining designed to accompany drinks, takes its inspiration from the simultaneous delicacy and exuberance of opera.

With a stark white and wooden interior, completed by a long grey marble bench that stretches the length of the restaurant, hints of the original Cho Cho san – through the image of a butterfly - peep through in various places, such as the restroom door (butterfly for females, rooster for males..?) and cheque booklet.
While the most flattering light shines through the windows and reflects off the minimalist décor during the day, at night the restaurant transforms into a dim, bustling eatery. Traditional Japanese stalwarts are given a contemporary twist on the menu designed to share, which covers small nibbles ‘izakaya style’, sashimi, tempura, meats and a noodles/rice/eggs section, as well as a short list of tempting sweets. 

Ginger Ninja mocktail: ginger syrup, lime, mint, ginger beer ($10); and Lychee Slushy mocktail: lychee, pineapple juice, mint, shaved ice ($10)
The Ginger Ninja and Lychee Slushy are the only two mocktails listed alongside the Japanese inspired cocktails and an extensive sake, ‘bubbles’ and wine list. Both are perfect for a refreshing, cooling hit to soothe the mouth when the chilli factor gets a little too high. While the ginger ninja has a zingy, hot ginger flavour, the lychee slushy is a slightly sweeter drink and the shaved ice works a treat. 

Agedashi Tofu ($10)
Cho cho san’s take on the classic agedashi tofu consists of the lightest, palest battering of tofu in a pool of tomato broth. The flavours are clean and fresh, as understated and delicious as the delicate presentation. 

Sashimi Plate ($42)
One of the more traditional menu items, sashimi of scallop, ocean trout, kingfish and oyster sing of that wonderful flavour only fresh seafood can possess. It’s pretty as a picture with the house made wasabi and zingy pickled ginger. 

Hiramasa kingfish, pickled ginger, cucumber ($22)
Arranged like a curled fish swimming in the ocean, silky kingfish sashimi comes in a salty, sweet soy sauce with thin ribbons of crunchy cucumber. There are multiple pieces of unctuous kingfish in this dish. Each is generous and has us coming back for more, despite the artful presentation giving the illusion of one long piece. 

Pork katsu steam bun ($8 each)
Keeping to Sydney’s popular steam bun craze, these are a little on the expensive side but nevertheless are finger-lickingly tasty. A well-sized piece of pork is fried in the signature katsu-style, nestled on a pillowy soft, white, folded bun with a mound of cabbage and good squeeze of spicy mayo. 

Chicken Karaage ($15)
Everyone’s favourite, the chicken karaage has a crunchy, bubbly and slightly heavier batter which coats the moist chicken pieces. Dipped in mayo and with a squeeze of lemon, it’s moreish and the perfect bar food to eat with your drinks.

Grilled king prawns, kombu butter ($24)
Succulent king prawns are grilled to perfection, a hands-on affair with sweet meat that has a lingering charcoal flavour. A pool of kombu butter meddles with the seafood juices, although the prawns are a little fiddly to tackle as the shells are left on. 

Japanese Bolognese ($18)
Chilli-fiends, this one’s for you. Thick, slippery udon noodles are tossed in a rich, chilli-laden, slightly sweet sauce with pebbles of pork mince and slivers of shitake. Crowned with a creamy whipped white sauce which helps break up the heat, it’s insanely addictive but not for those who prefer a milder level of heat.

Cabbage, radish, ginger ($10)
A simple but oh-so-tasty, fresh palette cleanser. Crunchy, shaved cabbage is topped with a garnish of uber-pretty radish and a wholesome Japanese dressing. A hint of ginger elevates the side dish to a whole new level. 

Teriyaki beef short rib ($42)
Irresistibly tender, pieces of short rib melt in the mouth, with a thin lining of fat which is offset by the acidity of pickled carrot ribbons. Order a side or two of white rice to mop up all the sweet, salty juices. 

Cho Cho San delivers delicious contemporary Japanese food in a buzzing, hip environment made all the more enjoyable when visiting with a large group, so that one is able to sample a wider variety of the expansive menu. I've also heard many great things about their matcha soft serve and steamed yuzu pudding. All the more reason so come back!


Cho Cho San Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato