Chef Chase Kojima opens Tokyo Samba halal steakhouse in Bankstown

Japanese-influenced Tokyo Samba will open in the heart of Bankstown with a halal menu, alcohol-free drinks and a Brazilian twist.

Scott Bolles

Last year the empire of one of Sydney’s most talented Japanese chefs was in tatters, with Chase Kojima’s two Senpai restaurants in liquidation and his role ending as executive chef at the hatted Pyrmont restaurant Sokyo. But Kojima is back, with one of the most audacious hospitality plays for 2024.

Kojima will open a Japanese steakhouse in June, on West Terrace, in the heart of Bankstown. Tokyo Samba will be halal, alcohol-free and have a Brazilian twist.

Chef Chase Kojima (left) with restaurant manager Thomas Malucelli at Tokyo Samba steakhouse in Bankstown.
Chef Chase Kojima (left) with restaurant manager Thomas Malucelli at Tokyo Samba steakhouse in Bankstown.Yusuke Oba

The chef admits the concept was driven by the Tokyo Samba’s owners, who wish to remain anonymous, but isn’t far removed from his own plan before Senpai toppled last year to add a Japanese steakhouse in the Sydney CBD. “I’m familiar with those South American flavours from my time at [Peruvian-Japanese] Nobu,” Kojima says of the Brazilian twist.

As for eating a steak without a glass of red, Kojima says Tokyo Samba will serve non-alcoholic wine. “I’m also working on mocktails,” he says. The restaurant is geared to its demographic and market, the chef explains.

Kojima, who held senior positions with Nobu around the world before opening the award-winning Sokyo in 2011 at age 29, was bruised by his business implosion, and says he had a long break to regroup.

The phone didn’t stop ringing with offers. There were big restaurant groups, and he resisted a return to the United States, where he grew up. He had a point to prove in his adopted city, and wants to bring some of the “showtime” he witnessed at San Francisco’s steakhouses in his youth.

“The show is important for a steakhouse, I remember roasts being rolled out,” Kojima says. Longer-term plans at Tokyo Samba include tables with special grills where chefs will cook in front of guests.

“There are condiments I want as a Japanese guy. Rice with my steak, and seaweed so I can make my own hand rolls [with the meat],” he says. The menu will include sashimi, ceviche, and Thomas Malucelli (from Channel 10 reality show The Bachelors) will join Tokyo Samba as restaurant manager.

Kojima has always been inventive, pioneering rice burgers and deconstructed chirashi sushi concepts in Sydney. “I’m master of the point of difference, and unfortunately I screwed up.” But rolling out a new food concept is about timing, the chef argues. And Kojima is hopeful the time is right for Tokyo Samba.

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Scott BollesScott Bolles writes the weekly Short Black column in Good Food.

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