Koko on Ecclesall Road combines tradition with flavour for an innovative menu.
My dad always warned me never to trust a restaurant that put up pictures of its food.
But the age of social media has led me to question that rule.
I’d been following Koko, in Ecclesall Road, on Twitter for a couple of months, and the temptation caused by the regular photos of their beautiful-looking dishes soon proved too much to resist.
My partner and I popped in early on a Tuesday evening. The classy black interior was lit by panels designed to reflect traditional Japanese walls, and the bustle of the rush hour traffic outside quickly evaporated.
I love Japanese food and am used to the menus. But Koko is not a traditional Japanese restaurant.
Options such as scallop, bacon and enoki mushroom skewers quickly caught the eye, along with a good selection of meat and fish cuts.
We opted for a duck gyoza starter to share (£7), deciding to save plenty of room in our stomachs for the main course.
My partner is by no means a sushi fan - something to do with the texture of raw fish - but even she was intrigued by the options at Koko.
We decided to share four different rolls (£7.50 for four pieces, £14 for eight). The tastiest - and most unusual - was the Koko, combining prawn tempura with avocado, chives, Philadelphia cheese, pine nuts and tobiko fish roe, topped with serrano ham, black olives - yes, olives - and spicy mayo.
I was apprehensive, but the taste was superb.
The Koko kitchen has come up with a winner.
We also had a Ha roll - tofu, asparagus and carrot - a Bifuteki, with sirloin steak topping, and a Tora, with grilled prawn and salmon tempura, sopped with seared salmon.
Each dish, served on beautiful crockery, had a distinct flavour, and all the ingredients - which are cooked from scratch - worked perfectly together.
We were too full for dessert but the options looked delicious. Yuzu poached pear with peach and Prosecco sorbet was a highlight.
Owner Stuart MacFarlane also has Sakushi, a more traditional eatery in Campo Lane. But he opened Koko to offer something that you ‘won’t find anywhere else’.
“Our aim is to make fantastic, really tasty food,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what’s traditional and what’s not.”
Full compliments to the Koko team for changing my perception of what Japanese food can be, for just under £50.
Star rating out of five:
Three more to choose from:
Wasabi Sabi, London Road Mr Miyagi, Division Street Yama Sushi Noodle Bar, London Road