Yoko – Opening Soon
Earlier this year, restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess (The Apollo in Sydney and Tokyo, and Cho Cho San in Sydney) revealed he had snatched up the available tenancy next to his top-flight Greek eatery Greca at the Howard Smith Wharves precinct, with plans in motion to transform it into a Japanese izakaya-inspired bar and restaurant. Well, after a few months of secrecy, Jonathan and his team (which now includes ex-Aria head chef Ben Russell) have revealed a few more details on the anticipated arrival, including its name. Yoko is currently undergoing a fit-out ahead of its tentative mid-November opening date, and Jonathan has revealed that it will boast a strong Tokyo accent done in an Australian way. As a fan of Japan’s lively izakaya culture (Jonathan visits the country regularly to oversee The Apollo’s Ginza location), Jonathan has been collecting various found objects with the purpose of decorating his own take on the concept – one that is warm, fun and quirky, yet sophisticated and luxurious. Yoko’s look is being spearheaded by longtime collaborator and interior architect George Livissianis, and will boast an eye-catching geometrically designed 60s retro-futurist aesthetic (think something akin to the Space Age and Atomic Age-inspired architecture depicted in The Jetsons) with an interior palette heavy on yolk-hued yellow, browns, concrete and blond timber. Attention is being paid to the little details, from the custom-made plates and chopsticks to grander features such as retro refrigerators, slushy machines and an old-school self-playing perspex piano. Above the main dining area will sit a mezzanine vinyl bar, where guests can listen to a curated selection of wax while sipping whisky highballs, yuzu slushies or drops from Yoko’s 100-strong wine list. On the food side of things, Kitak Lee (The Calile’s Lobby Bar, The Table at Kuro Kisumé and Sydney’s Momofuku Seiobo) has been recruited to head up the Yoko kitchen, working with Jonathan and Ben to finalise a menu that emphasises value for money, top-tier local produce and a sustainable zero-waste approach. Yoko’s menu will boast a raw section featuring sustainable seafood, hibachi charcoal-grilled dishes and other Japanese-inspired delights. Bar snacks will include the likes of seasonal gyoza, tempura, noodles and light textural salads, while large-format plates will offer share-style feasts of whole local fish, a premium wagyu selection and roasted duck. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on Yoko ahead of its November opening.