Category Archives: Japanese

The One With The Mon – Japanese Dining Stage

My first attempt to have a dinner at The Mon wasn’t a pleasant experience. Granted, we didn’t think ahead to book a table earlier. Walk-ins were told there was a two-hour wait for a table, which means we won’t get to be seated until at least 9 p.m. It wasn’t a palatable option, so my friend and I went to Hainan Shaoye instead.

The Mon

Fast forward a year. This time round we booked ahead, within the same day, and was told that we will get two seats at the bar at 9 p.m. Granted, it was a Friday, but really, what is it about Japanese restaurants and its hordes of fans? Was The Mon really that popular that we had to wait until that ungodly hour just for a dinner?

We were about to find out.

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The One With Tokyo Heya – All You Can Eat Japanese

Japanese places are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong. There is just something about Japanese food that is irresistible to Hong Kong-ers. One can find all sorts of Japanese food here – from the low end, hole-in-wall ramen joint to the very high end, thousand-dollar sushi. And then there are those everything in between. So if you eat out at a Japanese place, particularly at those buffet-like eat all you can joints, it can be very much a hit-and-miss experience.

Which is why after a very filling meal at Tokyo Heya, I could honestly say that the food is worth your dimes and time.

Tokyo Heya Japanese Eat All You Can

There were many choices available from the menu, which you order by filling up these multi-colored sheets and pass to the milling waitresses. Tokyo Heya offers almost everything you can think of on a Japanese menu – sashimi, sushi, handroll, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, tempura… the list was endless, so we were spoilt for choice. Instead of stressing ourselves, we asked for the captain to recommend us some of their best recommendations, after which we added some of our own. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss from the menu:

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The One With Ichiran Ramen In Hong Kong – Why The Madness When You Can Have It At Home?

Hong Kong people love queuing for food. And usually only food, unlike those hordes of mainlanders queuing outside Prada and Gucci along Canton Road, any day of the week. Hong Kong-ers know a good nosh so chances are when you see a queue outside a restaurant, either it is (1) just opened and the hype is still strong, or (2) the food is as good as it’s rumoured to be. Or both.

I, on the other hand, have long since given up queuing for food. The people, the humidity, the hunger, and the sheer silliness of standing for hours on ends for something to eat were just something I couldn’t stomach well.

So imagine my amusement when I saw this long queue outside Ichiran Ramen Hong Kong opened not too long ago, along Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay:

(Photo from OpenRice)

Apparently the waiting time is not for the faint hearted:

(Photo from OpenRice)

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The One With Senryo Japanese Restaurant – Borderline Dangerous (When You Are Very, Very Hungry)

I finally discovered the secrets on how Japanese restaurants can grow like mushrooms all over Hong Kong and yet still make tonnes of money.

Simply implement a ticketing system and illogical, inefficient use of space in the restaurants. By 8.30 p.m. at night, you will be guaranteed a hordes of hungry and impatient diners waiting outside, ready to eat up a horse.

That’s how I found myself tonight at Senryo at Hysan Place. It was close to nine p.m. before we were finally seated at the bar. I immediately ordered myself some hot sake and we settled in with some really tasty, gorgeous food… without looking at the price tags.

Senryo Japanese Restaurant

I have been eyeing this snail (shellfish?) hungrily while waiting outside Senryo, and immediately got myself a portion while waiting for my sake. Slices of fresh snails with fragrant shitake mushroom were the perfect combi to go with their coarsely grinded wasabi. Thumbs up!

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The One With Hal’s Fusion Japanese – Great Usuyaki Beef

So I was at Hal’s Japanese Restaurant which was relocated from Central to Causeway Bay due to 2x increase in rent (according to Jason). Seems like many of the foodies know of and frequent this place, so I marked it onto my foodie to-do list for Causeway Bay area. Moon was in town, so it was a perfect opportunity for me to try out the restaurant.

Hal's Japanese Restaurant

Making a reservation was a breeze, and I realised why. Although I was some fifteen minutes late for my booking, the restaurant was empty. It felt like I booked the entire restaurant for our catch-up dinner; in fact, ours is the only table occupied for the entire night. It was a shame, really. The service by the entirely Japanese crew was stellar, though it would be nice if the two Japanese chefs smiled a little more. As for the food, well, Moon and I were about to find out.

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The One With Teppanyaki Sessyu – Japanese Fare At Cubus Causeway Bay

So it was Christmas and I was at Teppanyaki Sessyu, one of the many restaurants located with the Cubus building. Cubus is gastronomy heaven, evident from the range of high-end restaurants cooking and brewing from within. Last time I counted there were at least three Japanese restaurants at Cubus, and Sessyu is one of them.

Japanese Teppanyaki At Sessyu

It was my second feast at Sessyu, both time with the same boss. I love Sessyu for the exquisite decoration (check out the wagyu cow statue right smack in the middle of the restaurant) and personalised cooking. You get to witness how your food is cooked, by the chefs themselves right at your table. The set lunches are of exceptional value: for some $250-ish you get a whole range of high quality food, from silky soft chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard) to char-grilled tenderloin steak.

Japanese Teppanyaki At Sessyu

US Angus tenderloin.

Of course, with a set meal there bound to be hits and misses. However I am happy to report that most of the dishes included in Sessyu’s set meal have always been stellar. Of high recommendation is the fried garlic rice. This simple dish is made great by a sprinkling of burnt rice cooked specifically to be crusted on top of the rice, along with generous helping of garlic and anchovies, which gave it a delicious fragrant smell.

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The One With Dai Mon Yokocho – Localised Japanese Fare

Restaurant owners in Hong Kong are well known to be exceptionally skilled in transforming foreign cuisine to the local taste buds. This is not to say local diners are not a discerning bunch; but the vast majority of Hong Kongers are more than happy to settle for food and drinks which have been, well, watered down, or tampered with to make it taste less foreign.

That is also not to say such localised food is not great. My experience at Dai Mon Yokocho was a testament that despite the interfering hands of the local chefs, the Japanese food served was delicious through strayed far from the real land-of-the-rising-sun’s food. The diners were decidedly local, so were the kitchen staff. I was there one rainy night and was “lucky” to be seated in plain view of the Cantonese-speaking chefs and cooks.

Dai Mon Yokocho

The food? Well! Let’s get down to business.

Hand-made Udon In Spicy Satay Soup With Premium Beef & Pork Cartilage (HK$69)

Dai Mon Yokocho

My choice, and definitely a good one. There was a page of udon in satay broth, another set of options in tomato broth, and yet another page for “spicy” broth… in satay and tomato variety. I reckoned all they did was to sprinkle some liberal amount of sliced cili padi (bird’s eye chilli), and it worked. The satay broth was fragrant with a strong peanut taste, the way I like it, and the udon were smooth and chewy. I can’t comment much about the beef and pork, except that when served with the whole combination plus spring onions and corns, it worked like a charm. My friend took a couple mouthfuls and reckoned it was better than his choice!

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The One With Sake Bar GINN – Hong Kong Dedicated Sake Bar

Founder Ayuchi Momose was proud to inform us that Sake Bar GINN is the first genuine bar in Hong Kong dedicated only to the fermented rice wine.

Sake Bar GINN

The sake selection available, mind boggling to the novice and da God-sent for diehard fans, were imported directly from Japanese breweries and not available elsewhere in Hong Kong.

Sake Bar GINN

Sake Bar GINN is more like a bar than a restaurant, so be prepared to be overwhelmed by its selection of about 100 different kinds of sakes, rather than its tapa style menu to go with the sake.

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The One With 33 Rooms – Japanese Private Kitchen in Taipei

What makes a private kitchen? I pondered over this question as I took in the scene that was 33 Rooms for an elaborate new year celebration dinner in Taipei recently.

Colours of Taiwan

If a private kitchen is defined by its interior design and ambiance, then 33 Rooms do seem to fit the bill. Housed in a nondescript shop lot in Ximending area, the authentically Japanese exterior (complete with a confusing sliding door and obligatory lanterns) give way to a cozy restaurant which has been in existence for more than thirty years.

Colours of Taiwan

The restaurant were sectioned into the way you would like to be seated; be it tatami, stools, benches, or private rooms. Each layout was characterised differently; our tatami seat were comfortable – i.e. never once I complained of backache sitting through the almost 3-hour meal – and appropriately decked with warm lighting, which made me hunker down contentedly to ponder over what food would be ahead of me.

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The One With Hakata Ippudo Ramen – Japanese Spirit Overload

Hong Kong people do tend to overdo things sometimes.

You know how they always greet you when you enter a pharmacy store (oh yes, hi), ask you to feel free to look around (no, I will only sneakily do so), and do you want to try this lip balm for $20 more (why, my chaffed lips thank you). The relentless, automated chatters annoy me to no end, and it was the same when I visited Hakata Ippudo Ramen recently.

Hakata Ippudo Ramen

But IPPUDO took it to another level. The staff, already decked out in full force Japanese (ramen operator) gear, were shouting to each other in nonsensical Japanese throughout dinner. One new customer walk in and then the whole chorus begin, from one end of the restaurant to the other, right into the kitchen.

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