Head chefs from Sokyo and Lee Ho Fook have opened Chuuka, a new Japanese and Chinese fusion restaurant in Pyrmont.
The Star has opened it’s first venue outside of the Pyrmont casino complex. Chuuka has taken over the iconic Jones Bay Wharf waterfront space where Flying Fish restaurant used to reside. Once home to one of the most romantic and picturesque restaurants in Sydney Chuuka has big shoes to fill. The front entrance bar is always best enjoyed during the warmer months so save this experience for later in the year. Inside the new look is minimal with a black and red colour palette. Downstairs there is a raw bar where chefs prepare fresh seafood, sashimi and oysters.
Being heritage listed the layout of the building hasn’t changed, the beautiful exposed timber beams still exist and there’s a great private dining room for intimate events. The captivating hanging light installation has sadly been removed and whilst the views of the Harbour Bridge will always impress the general vibe feels a little flat and lacks character.
The food is the main drawcard of Chuuka, as to be expected with award-winning chefs Chase Kojima (Sokyo) and Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook) leading the kitchen. Together they have created a unique menu that blends together two distinctive cultures. You’ll find Chinese flavours and Japanese techniques across an array of interesting dishes.
Start with items from the raw bar. The Pacific oysters with bonito soy yuzu and spring onion oil are incredible and perfect with a glass of champagne or a cocktail. The stir-fried prawns in chilli miso butter come served with fluffy Japanese milk buns to mop up the delicious chilli sauce. Chase’s ‘Tempura Yuzu Chicken’ is another winning dish. Think old-school sweet and sour pork but with a lighter tempura batter and sweet & sour yuzu sauce instead for a tangy finish.
The Tenshindon style blue swimmer crab & scallop fried rice with Japanese XO sauce is thick and heavy in flavour. With the exception of some starters like the oysters and the Chawanmushi steamed foie gras custard with blue swimmer crab, most dishes at Chuuka are best shared with friends.
You might want to keep the dark chocolate mousse with chartreuse, matcha green tea, genmaicza, ice cream dessert to yourself. But if you want to keep sharing they have a special frozen yoghurt dessert with different toppings perfect for groups.
There’s an extensive wine list at Chuuka but you could easily stay on cocktails (or mocktails) throughout the entire meal. They’re all balanced and compliment the menu well.
Chuuka is an exciting addition to Sydney’s dining scene. It’s refreshing to see such a unique fusion of cuisines and The Star have successfully paired the right chefs to nail this collaboration. The only slight turn off was the vibe on a Saturday night at 6.30pm in the second week of opening when we dined. It might not be located in the casino but it had traces of that atmosphere -middle aged men in tracksuits and kids whizzing past our table. This may be a one off or only apply to the earlier sittings but for now I’d skip Chuuka for a romantic date night and replace it with your next group catch up with friends.