Koheitsu is a very decent and reasonable Japanese for dinner in Causeway Bay. Prawn tempura, minced tuna and soft shell crab hand rolls, scallop, seared salmon and seared halibut (very good, fat and juicy, I wished I took a photo) sushi, beef shabu shabu, edamame beans and minced chicken meat balls, with complimentary tofu-flavored ice cream (ultra refreshing, must try!). The whole deal came up to $481 for two pax, a real steal! The place is rather small so can be packed and noisy, but for such quality and that price, it’s worth the hassle.
This tiny restaurant can at most seat 20 pax at one time, with tables and chairs packed along the corridor next to its open kitchen, all the way to space at the back. Servings were attentive (though I do think they are a little overstaffed), but it was certainly in a good way.
The menu… oh, the menu. They must have close to a hundred different items of yakitori, and since I am rather noob to this food category I random selected items which seems interesting. All of them turned out to be great – of particular mention is the grilled puffer fish which was fragrant and sweet. The Japanese liquor drink list is pretty good too. Price wise it can be on the high side, but then again, it’s quality food, and this is Happy Valley.
It was quite a late dinner for us right after a movie. I vaguely remembered a recommended Japanese restaurant by a colleague that was newly opened in Times Square. Zushi Ana was located right at the thirteenth floor of the building, where the cinemas were. The restaurant looked rather inviting so we stepped in for some late chows.
Glowing, warm light in a dark, posh environment always arouse my appetite. It is not something for everyone – most will complain about the inability to read the menu properly due to the the dim light – but I’ll say hey, that’s what candles are for! So I tilt my menu to the (electric) flame and read on, while all around a friendly, chatty atmosphere continue on through the night. Definite long time fans, I thought.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Apparently the waiting time is not for the faint hearted:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The food? Well! Let’s get down to business.
Hand-made Udon In Spicy Satay Soup With Premium Beef & Pork Cartilage (HK$69)
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!