Toku Modern Asian
Sep 16, 2007

Toku slips between Loro Piana and Escada, two doors down from Prada and Fendi. It's a perfect fit.

Stylized, polished and meticulously tailored, Toku is a sparkling new Asian restaurant in the Americana Shopping Center. But it's not simply couture cuisine.

Toku occupies and transforms what had been Millie's Place. From a carved slate wall to the onyx sushi bar; the shimmering, gilded chain-mail curtains to the tall, evocative monastery bells, Toku's skylight.candlelight dining room subtly shines.

Executive chef Tomoyuki Kobayashi creates contemporary dishes to equal the surroundings. His airy and artful cooking consistently excels.

Consider the delicate, steamed sea bass rolls, neat little cabbage-wrapped packets finished with ginger and scallion. Or the light, pan-seared Berkshire pork dumplings; and the puffy, juicy pork buns.

Enjoy a cleverly fashioned lobster taco; and the equally witty trio of flavorful, teriyaki-spiked sliders -- an opener that would be at home at Bryant & Cooper, the Roslyn steak house that, like Toku, is also owned by Gillis and George Poll. Try an order of "Toku fries" on the side, with wasabi-laced dipping sauce.

Fine sushi and sashimi complement these starters. The house rolls include the Geisha, with cucumber-wrapped Scottish salmon and avocado; and the kokomo, bringing together tuna, salmon, asparagus, wasabi pea and Key lime sauce. The Americana, with lobster-tail tempura, trails these. So does the tuna spring roll. But the traditional nigirizushi is very good, from kampachi to yellowtail to fatty tuna.

Meaty, tender braised spare ribs paired with pad Thai noodles are excellent. Likewise, the tender, hoisin-seasoned duck breast with napa cabbage and snow peas. As if to show that Toku has a populist streak, there's a first-rate rendition of kung pao chicken, accented with chiles.

Buttery roasted lobster arrives on glistening udon noodles, threading around mushrooms and asparagus. These noodles are much better than the pasty, chilled udon with peanut sauce.

Snowy, whole potato-crusted red snapper is plated as if it were fried in mid-swim, and enriched with sweet soy and honey. The competition: miso black cod, with shishito pepper salad and bonito shavings.

Toku turns westward at dessert, with a refined strip of apple tart; and a delectably light chocolate brownie, with a parchment-thin round of crisp pineapple. In this company, the banana wontons are bland.

Shochu cocktails, dandified martinis and variations on the mojito, margarita and caipirinha provide some early, high-octane lubrication. And there's a spirited selection of teas to conclude.

The menu quotes Buddha, an unlikely source of inspiration at the Americana, and lists three degrees of virtue. Toku's main one: It's open and dressed for success.


Inside Toku in Manhasset. Photo Credit: Newsday/Ken Spencer