A Night At Toko V

DSC08871by Steven Doyle

Any opportunity you might have to sample the cuisine prepared by one of Dallas’ best chefs, Andre Natera, seize the moment and enjoy. We did just that earlier this week when we paid the chef a visit at his newly opened Toko V in Highland Park Village. This is the toney hot spot that resides just above the Village Kitchen, also cheffed up by Natera. Toko is all about seafood, featuring a first rate sushi bar with Daniel Chau at the helm. Hot dishes such as small and big plates are navigated from below in Natera’s kitchen. 

Chef Chau, most recently head sushi chef of Steel Restaurant & Lounge, draws from his love of Japanese cuisine along with his Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese roots.   Chau features traditional sushi favorites as well as unique combinations such as salmon with carrot and yuzu, compressed watermelon tuna with chimichurri sauce and balsamic reduction or snapper with Thai coconut water and dragon fruit dice.   



You may recall Natera , who previously ran the Village Marquee before it was dismantled to make way for Toko and Village Kitchen, which are the final elements for Twomey Concepts in Highland Park that includes the eminent theater and the Marquee Bar.  Previously, Natera breathed life into the Pyramid at the Fairmont hotel in downtown Dallas. Digging further into Natera’s past we discovered that he grew up wanting to be a professional boxer. It was at age 25 he gave up the gloves for a toque.  This is interesting considering that Natera is also Taoist.

The word Toko is a derivative of Tokonoma, which is a recessed area in a Japanese home that display a beautiful item such as a scroll or flower arrangement. It is customary to seat your honored guests facing the toko. Consider the food that special arrangement if you will, but we do love the decor at Toko. Check out the special fish swimming across the ceiling just above the sushi bar.



For dinner we started with the papaya salad which was fresh, crisp and  peanuts, dried shrimp, cilantro, mint with a sweet and  spicy lime dressing. You never see the dried shrimp element in a papaya salad, but it is so righteous.  Another great taste was found in the fried beets. The beats were arranged on the plate with a yuzu wasabi kewpie mayo.  What an amazing pop of flavor that had the table all buzzing for more.

It was about this time we sat back and enjoyed a bit of sake from a short list of favorites. Then it began. The sushi started swimming to our table and we devoured beautiful bites that included smoked himachi with grapefruit gel and a jalapeno puree. Possibly one of our favorites, but there was so much more to choose from. And we did.



We definitely recommend the sashimi horse mackerel. Later we learned that we could order a whole mackerel that was fried whole, sans the sashimi. This gave you bites of the mackerel along with tiny bites of the collar and other tasty bits that were fried. Genius.

The hot dishes from Natera were equally as delicious. Definitely order the ribs, which Natera says is his favorite thing to snack on through out the day. He sous-vides the ribs for 24 hours for peak tenderness, then grills them for a nice char. Splendid flavors that gig the palate. Another can’t miss is the Steak with Wafu Sauce. The wafu is a dressing mixture with mixture of Japanese soy sauce, rice vinegar and Natera’s own special touches which tasted like cucumber.


We have been talking plenty about ramen in recent weeks, and Natera does a splendid job. he says that he makes the ramen more to his palate because most ramen have a one dimensional flavor. This bowl is chockful of noodles, interesting veggies such as the pickled shiitake mushroms, and of course the requisite egg.  The Toko ramen scores extremely high compared to counterparts in Dallas.

If you have a group that is indecisive or have a few that do not prefer seafood, you can sit in the Village Bar and enjoy menus from both Toko V and the Village Kitchen. You can read about our last experience with the Village Kitchen here.  This gives you an opportunity to mix it up wit one of the many capable barmen that will be at your beck and call.

The service is tremendous at Toko V, and you have the option to dine at the sushi bar, which is always fun. But for a relaxing repast you can find a cozy spot throughout the top floor. We will be back, and often. Toko V is located at 33 Highland Park Village (upstairs). Call 214-522-6035. They are open for dinner only.






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