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Back with a new look and a new menu, Pan-Asian restaurant OKO has recently relaunched, bringing a contemporary Japanese dining and dancing experience to the heart of Birmingham.
Situated in the bustling Brindleyplace, OKO sits on the ground floor of nightclub Nuvo - which has also undergone a renovation - and boasts a menu that specialises in delicately crafted sushi (prepared by a dedicated Sushi chef) as well as sashimi, uramaki, tempura and chef specialities.
OKO After Hours is open for those guests who wish to continue their night after dining.
Shortly after a warm welcome from our exceptional waitress, my partner and I tucked into our first dish of the evening - a spicy edamame appetiser. You can’t really go wrong with edamame, but the ever-so-tasty spicy sauce certainly tickled the tastebuds.
Starters at OKO include much-loved classics like duck spring rolls, chicken dumplings, vegetable dumplings and chilli salt crispy squid, to name but a few.
We enjoyed a warming miso soup - extremely welcome given the near-arctic temperatures outside - and perused OKO’s extensive cocktail menu. I chose a lychee martini, my partner a Haru-Hana - rhubarb gin, fraise syrup, lemon juice and cherry juice. Both were incredibly sweet but nicely made and very enjoyable.
If you fancy discovering the tricks of the cocktail trade for yourself, Nuvo offer masterclasses which can be tailor-made to suit your taste. Every masterclass has a dedicated mixologist who will talk you through each cocktail step-by-step in a private area of the venue.
Next up, we enjoyed a platter of salmon and tuna sashimi, Tobico Rainbow uramaki and salmon and tuna maki. The fish was beautifully fresh and of a high quality, the rice perfectly cooked and flavoursome.
Our last savoury dishes of the evening came in the form of a generous portion of rock shrimp tempura and beef strips with wasabi, ordered from the specialities & hot dishes section of the menu. The beef was nicely seasoned and cooked medium rare and the creamy sauce it was served alongside boasted a very subtle hint of wasabi. I wouldn’t have minded a stronger wasabi flavour, but that’s my personal taste. The meaty rock shrimp, which was coated in a light and crispy batter, was devoured in no time at all.
Sticking with the Japanese theme, we ordered the Mochi Trio from the dessert menu, which featured three balls of sticky rice - chocolate, strawberry and vanilla - coated around an ice cream filling. Served with fruit, it was a pleasant end to our debut OKO experience.
As well as those wanting the traditional starter/main/dessert experience, OKO also caters for the more casual diner - so if you fancy a crisp pint of Estrella and six pieces of eel maki as an after-work snack, this is the place to head for.
Although OKO wasn’t the very best Pan-Asian cuisine I've ever tasted, I couldn’t find fault with the dishes that we sampled. The presentation of the courses was aesthetically pleasing, the ingredients tasty and fresh, the service friendly - all of which combined to make our first visit to the newly refurbished Brindleyplace venue an enjoyable one.
**** Lauren Foster
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