15 March 2023

The Lawns of The Lobby announces the first venue in the newly invigorated precinct

| Lucy Ridge
Artists impression of final KOTO build including gravel gardens

An artist’s rendering of the KOTO site. Photo: Supplied.

Iconic Canberra venue The Lobby will be transformed into a new Japanese restaurant. The venue forms part of a collaboration between the National Capital Authority and local marketing firm The Mark Agency (TMA). They aim to reinvigorate the space and create a new precinct in the Parliamentary Triangle.

The precinct will be known as The Lawns of The Lobby. It will include multiple dining venues and an exciting calendar of events that will inject some vibrancy into the area and encourage people to visit outside nine-to-five office hours.

“We’re not just introducing a lively food and dining precinct to the Parliamentary Triangle; we’re also inviting back a calendar of events that will be supported by the amenity offered by The Lawns of The Lobby,” says TMA Director Tristan Maddigan.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the gardens come to life with weddings, corporate events, and a range of events that will be presented by The Lawns of The Lobby year-round.”

Japanese chef wearing black crosses his arms while holding chefs knife.

Executive chef and sushi master Shinya Nakano will use native Australian ingredients in his menu at KOTO. Photo: Supplied.

KOTO is the first of three dining concepts to be announced, with an opening date sometime in May.

Executive chef and sushi master Shinya Nakano trained in Kyoto with a fifth-generation sushi master. In Australia, his credits include Nobu and Kisume in Melbourne where he was awarded two hats from Good Food Guide for his 18-course omakase-style menu.

The restaurant is owned by Adam Elchakak. Canberrans may be familiar with his work from Nikkei restaurant Inka in the city.

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KOTO promises to be a fine dining experience that blends Western and Japanese concepts in a style known as kaiseki.

“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 Chef Nakano.

The menu will feature Australian native ingredients and locally sourced seafood.

Old Parliament House Rose Gardens Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

Old Parliament House Rose Gardens Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Architect Keizo Okamoto, the co-founder of Odd Design, has worked to create an interior that speaks to the heritage and history of the 50-year-old pavilion. Multi-levelled wooden screens, rich textures and a juxtaposition of processed and raw materials add to the drama and dynamism of the space.

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Second-generation master gardener Shinya Ueda has also been commissioned to create a Japanese-style garden around The Lobby using zen design principles.

“The Lobby reminded me of the Hama-Rikyu garden in Tokyo, which has a teahouse perched on a lake with bridge access similar to Capital Hill,” Ueda says.

“These two pictures guided me to designing a karesansui [dry gravel garden] to symbolise Lake Burley Griffin.”

old photograph of the Lobby building.

The lobby space has been disused for several years now. Photo: Region.

KOTO’s opening in May is only the beginning of the reinvigoration plans for the precinct.

Two other dining concepts will be introduced to the space, using the old Pork Barrel building and other areas of the lawns. TMA promises to include diverse dining options, from grab-and-go lunches to fine-dining dinners.

The heritage-listed Rose Gardens will be preserved and featured as a central element of the precinct.

The Lawns on the Lobby is located at 1 King George Terrace, Canberra.

KOTO will open in May and plans to be open seven days a week from 12 noon until 3 pm for lunch and from 5.30 pm until 10.30 pm for dinner. Follow KOTO on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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