In the early stages of 2019, 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 restaurant. His plans were revealed in November when Jonathan and his team opened Yoko, a concept inspired by Japan’s lively izakaya culture with a a warm, fun and quirky (yet sophisticated and luxurious) appeal. Yoko’s look has been spearheaded by longtime collaborator and interior architect George Livissianis, boasts 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 has been 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 BarThe Table at Kuro Kisumé and Sydney’s Momofuku Seiobo) is heading 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 boasts a raw section featuring sustainable seafood, hibachi charcoal-grilled dishes and other Japanese-inspired delights. Snacks 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 pork kakuni bossam.


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