We Asked a Famous Japanese Restaurant to Curate Your Next Dinner Party Menu, Paired With Gin

Toko on Crown Street in Sydney’s slick Surry Hills neighbourhood is a solid go-to amongst the city’s upmarket foodies. The team here pioneered the Japanese “izakaya” style cuisine by combining expert expats and fresh Aussie seafood to create delicious morsels best be shared amongst good company.

Paul Birtwistle is the general manager over at the moody former-warehouse and he ran us through his take on the perfect Japanese inspired dinner party and how you can bring out the best flavours here by combining with ROKU Gin.


To begin, Paul reckons a quirky conversation starter for your guests can be made by whipping up a few “sashimitinis”.

“We basically mix sake with gin and then a little bit of sushizu, which is vinegar used to make sushi rice, ginger liqueur, and then we put a piece of raw fish with it”.

“If you drop the fish in drink it will cure with the alcohol and it will take on some of the flavour of the drink”.

Paul recommends using a small strip of fresh salmon in your sashimitini as it’s probably the most popular and accessible raw fish eaten in Australia.

In addition, serving up a few Sydney Rock oysters with some fresh dressings would be a good way to start. “Do your oysters with something like ponzu, a citrus soy dressing. You can even do something like a gin and tonic with that”.


For the main event you’re going to be using fish. Paul thinks it doesn’t really matter what fish you’re using, as long as it’s fresh. The best way to pair this with your drinks is by using flavours in the dressing of the fish that compliment the botanicals used in the gin. You can even add garnishes to the gin that you’ve used to cook to really tie it all together.

“If you’re making a new-style dressing, like a ginger dressing, I would match what you’re using to make the dressing and add that kind of botanical to the gin and tonic to help lift it”.

“If you use any edible flowers, you can garnish it with that. Orange is always good, or blood orange, depending on the season”.

“We do a sliced kingfish dish here that’s got a yuzu truffle dressing and that would be a relatively simple dish to do at home. That’s just sliced kingfish, ponzu, a little more soy to add more of a salt kick, and a little truffle oil as well”.

“Go down to the fish markets and speak to the people there. They can cut the fish for you too. Check the fish, check the eyes, and ask them to fillet it, ready to be cooked as sashimi”.

“They’re quite rough with their slicing down at the fish markets so it helps with these kind of dishes to cut them a little thinner at home and if you’re dressing it as well, it will take on more of the dressing and will be easier for people who aren’t particularly used to eating raw fish”.


Once you’ve munched your way through all that fresh sashimi, keep things moving on the same path by bringing out the light and zingy desserts.

“We’re going to be doing a peach and gin sorbet with our tasting menu sort of as a palate cleanser. I don’t think it’s too hard to make yourself. You can even turn it into a granita as well. It’s just really balancing it ‘cos if you use too much gin it won’t freeze as well”.

“We’re doing ours in peach but you can also do yuzu as well. If you’re able to get some yuzu juice from one of the Asian grocery stores, you could do a yuzu granita with gin. Which would be really, really great”.

Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.