09 Dec Roku Den Restaurant & Sushi Bar – Torquay
Roku Den Restaurant and Sushi Bar – 34 Bell Street – TORQUAY
At its best, Japanese cooking is inextricably meshed with aesthetics, with religion, with tradition and history. It is evocative of seasonal changes, or of one’s childhood, or of a storm at sea. – American food writer, M.F.K. Fisher
Those of us with water in our personalities don’t pick where we’ll flow to. All we can do is flow where the landscape of our lives carries us. – Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
If there’s such a thing as a Japanese whisper, this one spread about the Surf Coast like a Californian wildfire from the moment the doors blew open.
Roku Den Restaurant and Sushi Bar is a funked-up Japanese-infused tapas sushi-sashimi bar affair – the real deal, authentic Ninja-Samurai and all things Japanese foodie magic show.
Roku Den’s main man, Anthony Gist, hails from California, and appears to have packed his swag to overflowing with all things cool, cruisy and creative from the East Coast before heading to his new digs on the Surf Coast.
Anthony’s credentials are as long as an overbrimming bowl of Udon noodles strung together over a sashimi slate spanning the Great Ocean Road. Anthony was trained by and mentored under Japanese master chef, Roku – hence Roku Den. Anthony then went on to spend the following six years amping up his trade at Warrnambool TAFE; secured the head chef position at Frontbeach Tapas Bar, and has chopped, sliced, sashimi-ed, sushi-ed and ramen-ed with the best of them.
And the happy news ‘round these parts is that Anthony now shares his Japanese‑inspired rock-on at Roku Den, Torquay.
The crew at Roku Den are as passionate about the sustainability of the ocean, and all that comes out of it, as they are about their food. Roku Den use no Chinese scallops or prawns, or tuna from Indonesia, due to the poor water quality in those climes, and lack of environmental sustainability regulations, which negatively impact the marine environment.
All ingredients are sourced from local farms – the pork from Raven’s Creek Farm; seafood from White Fisheries; meat from Torquay Quality Meats; and most everything else from Barwon Foods and local farms. Micro-economics and supporting local producers and small business is the ethos here.
My Surf Coast Life & Co’s absolute favourites from front-of-house Roku Den kitchen –
Sapporo and soy pulled pork boa; vegetable yakatori; tempura anything; beef tataki salad; Japanese dukkah scallops with citrus; freshly shucked oysters with ginger-sesame dressing; seared kingfish sashimi with ponzu dressing; and absolutely everything sashimi and sushi.
The spiced tofu fries are legend on the Surf Coast. Don’t leave without sampling these revved-up little tricksters. If you’re not a fan of tofu, I’m betting this experience is 100% guaranteed to turn your tastebuds.
And the Ginger Ninja is a MUST.
The kids’ menu is a winner here – bite-sized teriyaki chicken with steamed rice and vegetables is a My Surf Coast Life little person favourite. And, of course, the banana spring rolls with vanilla bean ice-cream and chocolate sauce.
You’ll find a comprehensive list of top Japanese beers and sakis, and contemporary Australian wines.
Wait staff are engagingly enthusiastic, full of good cheer, and lots of fun. Service is fast and hot. Soundtrack ROCKS here. Who doesn’t love a tap of the chopsticks to Space Cowboy? No one on the Surf Coast, I’m betting…
Roku’s a hard one to leave. Love, love, love it.
Oh, and if it’s your lucky night, the green tea tiramisu may be up for the taking.
You can rock up to Roku Den, and try your luck for a lunchtime table, but recommend you book for dinner.
Opening hours –
Monday to Tuesday – dinner 6:00pm–9:00pm
Wednesday to Sunday – lunch 11:30am–3:00pm; dinner 6:00pm–9:00pm
Some pics curtesy of Roku Den.