There’s a brand-new restaurant, named after Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, injecting some energy into Sydney this winter. Cho Cho San is an Izakaya-style joint by Jonathan Barthelmess and Sam and Leo Christie, the team that brought us the Apollo Restaurant and made us fall for Greek food all over again. Just a year in the making, this new venture has cemented the team’s reign on Potts Point’s Macleay Street, but we’re not to assume this is a variation on Apollo’s theme. “It’s a different style altogether,” says Barthelmess. “Cho Cho San’s menu has a lighter palate, is more seafood-focused, and has a portion dedicated to a wide selection of drinks and traditional Japanese beverages.”

The idea came about during a trip to Japan. “I have always had a love for Japanese culture, which I further explored on my trip to Tokyo with Sam’s dad, Leo,” he says. “With our shared passion for all things Japanese, Sam and I decided an Izakaya-style restaurant was going to be our next project.”

Enter architect George Livissianis and talented young chef Nic Wong, and you have a stylish “no sushi” restaurant that is in stark contrast to Puccini’s tragic namesake. The element of creative humor runs throughout—from the handmade plates to the retro ice shavers. “It’s a fun place to hang out,” says Barthelmess. “There is a lot of attention to detail everywhere you look. We made sure the space flows seamlessly while also surprising guests with design elements they wouldn’t usually pay attention to.”

As for the food? Critics are already using phrases such as “better than Nobu,” but when it’s up to Barthelmess, he’s sending his friends “the fried chicken and a nippy rock shop.”

For more information, visit


Photos: Courtesy of Jess Blanch


Posted By

Jess Blanch

Jess Blanch is the editor in chief and publisher of tastemaking bimonthly publication RUSSH. Based in Sydney, Australia, RUSSH is a globally distributed independent magazine that showcases innovators in fashion, ...