After a recent announcement of the revitalisation of the iconic The Lobby at King George Terrace, the first of three dining ventures of the new precinct, The Lawns of The Lobby, has been revealed.

KOTO – set to take diners on a fine-dining culinary journey into Japanese culture like no other will open its doors in May.

Owner, Adam Elchakak has established a reputation for delivering exceptionally attractive venues with notable chefs at the helm, including Canberra’s Nikkei restaurant, Inka.

KOTO, derived from the former capital of Japan, Kyoto, reflects the executive chef and sushi master’s hometown. Shinya Nakano trained in Kyoto with a fifth-generation sushi master, later working his magic at Nobu and Kisume in Melbourne where he was awarded two hats from Good Food Guide for his 18-course omakase-style menu.

The menu will feature a Western/Japanese co-production, following a Japanese kaiseki philosophy.

“Kaiseki is one of the most prestigious dining experiences, following a deep-rooted set of guidelines including that your food must represent the area that surrounds you,” says Nakano.

Seasonality and locality are instilled in Nakano, his admiration for Australian ingredients from land to sea can be perceived through his eminent style of working. Among his favourites are Tasmanian sea urchin, Fremantle Octopus, NSW bluefin tuna, finger lime and saltbush, all of which you’ll find on the menu.

Protecting the legacy of the 50-year-old building, diners can anticipate complete immersion with the help of the menu’s confident flavours, dramatic interior and considerate presentation of the Commonwealth Heritage-listed landscape.

“To preserve and revitalise this half-a-century-old, Japan-heritage architecture, we took advantage of the strength and symmetry of the original plan,” says Odd Design Co-founder, Keizo Okamoto.

“The decorative design language is derived from the phenomena of nature such as water flow and the flicker of fire. The juxtaposition of the processed and raw materials expresses Japanese aesthetics Wabi-Sabi; the acceptance of transience and imperfection,” Okamoto says.

Using his zen design principles, second-generation Master Gardner, Shinya Ueda has been commissioned to expand the Japanese dining experience, making it felt through The Lawns of The Lobby.

“The Lobby reminded me of the Hama-Rikyu garden in Tokyo, which has a teahouse perched on a lake with bridge access similarly to Capital Hill,” Ueda says. “These two pictures guided me to designing a KareSanSui (dry gravel garden) to symbolize Lake Burley Griffin.”

Ueda says his approach to the landscape architecture followed in the same vein as the chef’s food philosophy.

“In the culinary world, choosing the right ingredient is step number one. Similarly, the deciding factor for a great Japanese garden is choosing the right materials,” he says.

In respect to the iconic building, Ueda sourced materials from around Australia including Black Hill in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

KOTO is opening in May, 7-days 12-3pm & 5.30-10.30pm. Visit for more.