Posts tagged “Japanese

Nobu Hong Kong review: all skirt, no knickers


I’ve eaten at Nobu in London way back in 2003 when it was the hottest ticket in town, and frankly don’t remember much about the food – notwithstanding the lychee martinis my friend and I were piling down, but we were so busy gossiping about our latest TV-land exploits (or more importantly the exploits of those we’d been working with) that the food completely passed me by. I take this as a sign that it was rather pleasant but not jaw-dropping, and hence haven’t been back since.

photo from Intercon website

photo from Intercon website

We thought we’d give it a go here as we wanted to compare and contrast against the other Japanese restaurants we like. Some people will cry foul now because Nobu is apparently a fusion restaurant. But ultimately it relies on its Japanese-ness to bring the crowds in.

The upshot is that I won’t be going back to this edition of Nobu either.

We went for a special occasion and paid more to book a harbour-view table only to arrive and discover that the harbour-view is limited to the person who isn’t sitting with their back to it. (If you are in a bigger group they do have round tables that are in another part of the restaurant by some very large windows, or if you are a couple make sure you ask for one of the corner tables as then you can sit around the table and both people can look out the window).  Anyway, not a good start…

Food: We had a set menu of 7-8 courses and apart from the wagyu beef (which at the end of the day is their signature dish), there was nothing of note. The marker of quality of Japanese restaurants – the fish – wasn’t any better quality or fresher than any number of other good restaurants in Hong Kong, which was disappointing because Nobu positions itself as something above and beyond, which in our experience, it wasn’t.

Drinks: Good wine and sake list, nice selection of beers, everything you expect.

Ambience: A lot of hype was built around the design of this restaurant, and it is cool. It doesn’t blow me away, but has it’s little quirks and features that makes it an interesting place to look at, but you really know that you are in a hotel restaurant. Also, they do pack you in and there isn’t a lot of room between tables in the section where we sat.

Service: The service was efficient and subtle. What you’d expect in a 5* hotel (although nothing in my opinion surpasses that of the Mandarin Oriental in this town).

Price: The set menu was $2888 per head, and we spent another $500 on 2 carafe’s of sake and a 1/2l bottle of water as they refused to fill our glasses from the tap.

Location: Intercontinental Hotel, 18 Sailsbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Tel: 852 2721 1211

I came away thinking that is was an expensive, brand name restaurant that didn’t live up to the hype. I’d go to Kiyotaki or Jun over Nobu every day of the week unless I was desperate for Wagyu beef, and then I think I’d look for somewhere new first before going back here (in fact I’d probably go across the corridor to The Steak House…).

Kiyotaki – One of my favourite Japanese

Update: 24.5.10

Went to Kiyotaki for the first time in a year today and it was stupendous.

Chef served us halibut sashimi for the first time and it was utterly buttery – quite the texture sensation.

He’d also been out fishing that day off Lamma with his friends who were all propped up at the bar, and he tempur-ed the little fishes they’d caught and they were lip-samckingly good – crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside: just like an armadillo…

I also admit to giving a very unladylike little grunt of ecstasy when I got my chops round the toro sashimi.  Splendid. Do go. It’s well worth.


Compact and bijou mostyn!

Yeung Chi Wang who owns and runs this restaurant is lovely.  He is as smiley as a laughing buddha, and makes me happy whenever I go in his restaurant.  I know that he is Hongky, but I think that he spent a long time in Japan.  I may be wrong, next time I go I’ll check further.

When you walk in the door just tell chef to feed you and he’ll bring you what’s best that day.   He has a great range of sake, shouju and beer, and beware of getting too in the swing of things otherwise you’ll end up having a lock-in with the staff on a school night.

Food:  Very good seafood.  In the top 95% of quality in Hong Kong for Japanese restaurants I would posit. He has great yellowtail, fantastic horse mackeral, toro so melty it will make you want to cry. His sushi and sashimi presentation and portion sizes are spot on and obviously uses fresh wasabi. He also does  yakatori, noodles, salads etc. and it is always worth asking if he has his special tofu from Japan.  Have it deep fried with bonito flakes and miso etc. It’s grey-green inside and is bloody lovely.

Drinks: Choose your own sake pot and away you go.  Very decent sake assortment and lots of beers and teas.

Ambience: Front room stuff this, can’t really seat more than 20 people or so, but chef will reorganise the entire table and screen arrangement to suit your party.  Can sit at the bar as well and chat with the workers.  Small wooden chairs, so not great if you are generously proportioned, but the food is so damn good you won’t notice the discomfit.

Service: Chef rules, his staff are attentive and service is swift.  Make sure you invite chef to partake of your beer or sake and he’ll reciprocate the generosity.

Price:  Kiyotaki is quite pricey, the quality of the ingredients is so high that you have to expect to pay for it. We usually don’t get out for less than HK$1200 all in for two people, but it is fantastic food with such lovely service that it’s well worth the price.  I would always choose to go here over the branded restaurants of Nobu and Zuma (tired of Asian-Confusion anyone?).

Location:  At 13 Gough Street in Noho, Central, 2877-1772.

Open: 6 days a week, lunch and dinner. Sunday dinner only.

Katiga Street – Super Kitsch Japanese Dining

Update: 11.6.10

Went to Katiga Street with a bunch of friends tonight and had the smaller of the street-front tatami rooms – it sat 10 and the minimum spend was the bargain price of HK$1250 in total (!)

It was a fun night and it will stay up in my Candy category because of the sheer daft uniqueness of it all, but I do have a couple of gripes:

1) The lighting was so frikkin bright that it took away the cosy, fun feel of the room and showed it up in all it’s slightly faded and shabby glory (and us after a hard night on the sake).

2) Each item of sushi and sashimi is so damn big that after a few you do start getting raw fish fatigue. These bits of fish are steak sized, I kid you not, and it gets a bit nauseating after a while.

It still was a lot of fun, and I’d go back again, I just think they could increase their profit margins by slashing sushi and sashimi to half the size, and their patrons would mostly be thankful for it.


Look at their mascot!  How cool is he?  You know you are in for a treat when you see a 5ft sumo wrestler squatting outside the front door…

Sooo-moh! Sooo-moh!

Sooo-moh! Sooo-moh!

I can’t thank my esteemed colleague enough for introducing me to Katiga Street in Hung Hom one lunchtime.  The owners of this restaurant have, over the years, taken control of all the ground level shops in this alley and turned them into Japanese restaurants, so you walk around with a real feeling that you are in some Osakan back street – it’s brilliant.

It’s not the best sushi you’re ever going to eat, but the portions are huge, the price very reasonable and it’s still 100 times better than Genki.

For dinner, I like to take one of the private dining tatami rooms.  Ask for one of the special street-front ones.  There are two with one seating about 8 and the other up to 14 or so. There is a minimum spend for these, but it’s ridiculously low – the bigger one about HK$2,500 if I remember rightly.  They serve loads of different sake, shouju and Japanese beers, and it’s just a fantastically kitsch themed experience to go with a group of friends for a jaunt somewhere a bit different.

After dinner the best place to head is Minden Avenue for some buckets of beer and Karaoke to round off your evening on the Dark Side.

Food: Standard Japanese fare, huge slabs of fish for sashimi, and sushi that you need to hold in two hands, you feel like you’re eating giant’s food. Beware the Deluxe Sushi Boat unless you have at least 10 people in your crew. I’d put it slap in the middle of the ingredient quality range for Japanese in HK.

Drinks: Decent if basic range of sake and beer etc very reasonably priced. Usually have promotions on.

Ambience:  More kitsch than Disney.

Service: Swift and friendly, sometimes need to find a waitress who speaks English. Resist playing too much with the buzzers to call the waitresses in the Tatami rooms when you get a bit squiffy, the poor loves are in kimonos and have to take their shoes off and enter on their knees – they are not yoyos.

Cost: Really reasonably priced. Dinner $250-$500 a head depending on how much sake you can down and how much raw fish you can stomach. Or you can have a rice set for as little as $70.  Bargain.

Location: 37 Sung Kit Street, Hung Hom tel 2764 6436.  If you are a daft gweimui like me then just ring and get them to explain their location to the taxi driver.  It’s a bitch to get to if you aren’t a Canto speaker.