- Only one safe option for coeliacs
- Delicious, fresh sashimi
- Nice, casual environment
Last minute on Tuesday night, we got an invite from the family to catch up over dinner. We headed to Kokoro in Gungahlin for Japanese food. Before the diagnosis, we’d go for Japanese food regularly as Michael and I enjoy Asian food and we’d been to Kokoro multiple times. However, the few times we’ve tried Japanese food since my diagnosis have not been particularly successful. Unfortunately, Japanese food seems to be a cuisine that, when done Australian-style, doesn’t have many gluten free alternatives and contains a lot of wheat ingredients.
I thought we’d give it a shot though, just in case there’d been any changes in what was available, plus it was nice to see the in-laws.
We headed to Kokoro for a 5pm booking for six adults and a baby. We were seated next to the door but this wasn’t a problem. We were far enough away not to be interrupted when customers came in, and we could see into the kitchen and bar area from our table.
The environment at Kokoro is very casual and relaxed. One side of the building is tall, glass, shaded windows. Opposite is the kitchen and a long counter. There are two feature walls with large horizontal white tiles, divided in the middle by rows of wooden logs. It’s pleasant to look at and on one side there is a large version of their logo. There are a lot of tables set out with comfortable wooden chairs, and the lighting is moody but not too dark. They were playing J-Pop at a good volume, not too loud to interrupt conversation.
The menu isn’t marked with any gluten free items so after looking over it for a while, I decided I needed to ask a few questions – how would they prevent cross contamination? Are their soba noodles gluten free? Did they have gluten free soy? What batter was used for the tempura? I was feeling optimistic that they’d have some options for me, my fingers crossed for proper soba noodles so that I could get ramen! But it wasn’t to be…
The wait staff came over and I began to go through my usual explanation – I’m coeliac, what’s gluten free? And she said “the chef can only guarantee the sashimi is gluten free”. It was nice because she had clearly dealt with food tragics like me before, but also depressing because with one sentence my many options had become one – sashimi.
I ordered the 16-piece medium mixed sashimi plate and requested a bowl of rice and gluten free soy (which they had!). Everyone else ordered chicken karaage, chicken and beef teriyaki, udon and edamame. I admit, when I found out I only had one option, I lost interest in everyone else’s food. It’s rubbish when everyone is eating stuff that you can’t have! (Husband’s note: everything else was nice!)
The food came out quickly enough and it was all beautifully presented. Even if it wasn’t a feast for my belly, it was a feast for the eyes!
The sashimi itself was very nice. There was eight pieces of salmon, four tuna pieces and four kingfish with balls of thinly grated carrot, wasabi and some kind of sprouts with a sweet mayonnaise on them. The fish was very fresh and beautifully prepared. I find Kingfish can often be a bit dry, but it was firm and oily, the tuna was very tasty, and the salmon was bright and vibrant. The fish was delicately flavoured and tasted like the sea, none of it had that fishy taste that you can get when the fish isn’t as fresh as it should be.
Overall, there were eleven dishes on our bill, which totalled $177. The sashimi was $28 and the bowl of steamed rice was $3. The sashimi cost more than I’d like to spend for something that was so casual but as I didn’t have any other food options there wasn’t much choice. Having said that, I don’t think Kokoro overcharged for the sashimi, it’s just an expensive dish.
Kokoro is a nice place for a relaxed evening meal out but I doubt I’ll be returning because of the limited menu options.
46-50 Hibberson St, Gungahlin ACT 2912
(02) 6241 7450