Nice decor. Good service. DInner was overpriced. Quality was not exceptional at all. Perhaps for lunch only.
I seldom initiate going to a sushi dokoro (literally - sushi place) because I usually prefer warm food (other than liquid bread). Another reason is that it's usually very brightly lit and quiet, and I prefer the smokey dim-lit drinking dens. I believe the bright light is used for enhancing the colour of the fishes.
Another reason is the price: even the freshest seafood from Japan will need at least 7-8 hours between being caught and being eaten - being caught, frozen, packed, transported, flown over, transported, defrost and cut up. The price in these sushi specialists charge Japanese price but the quality could not be matched with those in Japan. Generally speaking, it's not easy to get really fresh sashimi in Hong Kong, unless you are talking about fresh geoduck or certain types of local seafood sashimi.
One of my wife's friends have introduced us to this place. I figure I should start on learning something about sushi and sashimi - memorizing the names in particular, which I find very tricky - to widen my general knowledge so I didn't mind following the recommendation. The result was an instant noodle at home.
Location, Location, Location:
The location was relatively easy to find, just at Cameron Plaza. The shop was immediately next to a slimming/diet health company run my Ms. Tong, so very convenient both before and after your diet classes. A menu was placed outside the restaurant so you could double check whether you really wanted to go inside. We booked a table beforehand so we had to go inside.
As we entered, we were allocated two seats in the sushi counter right in front of the sushi chef. This is supposed to be a prestigious thing as you could communicate with the chef directly. The really "pro" sushi chef will modify the strength of how they squeeze the sushi rice according to how you eat your sushi - i.e. with your hands or with chopsticks, how much soy sauce you are accustomed to adding...etc.
However, as the counter was a bit too small - the chef was less than a meter in front of me - and I was surrounded by very quiet spoken Japanese customers - less than half a meter away from me. It was very bright and quiet. I felt like I was waiting for an exam to start or for some job interview. I didn't feel comfortable at all. Fortunately, thanks to the friendly staff, we were able to switch our seats to the table seats away from the counter.
Other than the rowdy VIP room which held a number of noisy and smokey Japanese customers, the whole restaurant was extremely quiet. The ceiling was very high. Light wooden theme which you get in most sushi dokoro. Decent environment considering the size. Similar to the restaurants you find inside commercial buildings at Causeway Bay. A little similar to Tori-shin.
So we had a look at the menu. It's in Japanese only. Perhaps there might be one written in Chinese/English but I didn't notice it.
Since this place marketed itself as a sushi specialist, they obviously had sushi plus a whole host of sashimi on offer. They also had some chinmi - delicacies like fish innards. All those were printed on an A4 piece of paper. The price vary significantly so make sure you double-check the price list before you place your order.
We were new to the place so we weren't too sure about their strength and weaknesses. Eventually we settled for a Deluxe Sushi Platter ($380), A la carte sashimi - maguro, tako, hirame and hamachi - and we also ordered a "katsuo shudo".
There is also Omakase Sashimiat $450 with six types of sashimi. On hindsight, this might be a better choice.
Shortly afterwards, we were served with the appetizers
Drinks & Appetizers:
1. Beef appetizers (HK$30 x 2):
(左) 梅酒 (右) 前菜:碎牛肉，牛蒡，荵加醬油。
(左) 梅酒 (右) 前菜:碎牛肉，牛蒡，荵加醬油。...
My wife ordered a glass of plum wine. One glass of "Kagau mesyu" (HK$50)
I didn't try it as I don't eat beef. It's made with minced beef, gobo (burdock) and spring onions plus some soy sauce. It looked fine. My wife enjoyed it.
We decided to order a bottle of small sake on the generally pricey drink list (it's usually 720 ml or 1800 ml) to go with the sashimi and sushi.
Manzairaku (Junmaidaiginjo) $280
I will not recommend this sake to you. Tasted a bit murky not crispy and fresh enough. I'd recommend Kubota or Hakkaisan instead. However, those came in much larger bottles.
The lighter coloured one on the left was for sashimi, which had a sharper lighter taste - slightly comparable to light soy sauce. The one of the right was for the sushi, it's called "Murasaki" ムラサキ. Quite apart from the colour, the taste was also a bit deeper. Perhaps with more alcohol content inside it, slightly comparable to dark soy sauce.
Sushi moriawase (HK$380)
From Left to Right - Top to Bottom:
Chu Toro (Tuna): My wife found the chu toro pretty good. Fresh, not too oily. It was grilled to the right timing.
Maguro Akami (Tuna ): Not too fresh though. As I've stated in my review of NOBU, maguro (tuna) is one of the hardest fish to maintain its freshness. It's also very easy to go wrong. Stay away from it if you're body is not in top form.
According to what I've read about sashimi & sushi, Akami means the back of the tuna or other parts of the fish with less fat - also less expensive, could taste the bloodiest and the easiest to go wrong. On the other hand, Toro means the belly. OO Toro means the fattiest part of the tuna and is the most exquisite and expensive part.
Hirame (Flat fish): This and the sashimi Hirame were both quite good. Quite chewy as far as fish meat can go. It's generally firmer than other white meat.
Hamachi (Yellowtail): The freshness of the hamachi was acceptable. Not extremely flavourful but fine.
Ika (Squid): Not chilled enough. Felt a little bit sticky. Average quality.
Ebi (Prawns): One of the fresher item on the assorted sushi. Again, not chilled enough but still rathe sweet.
Uni (Sea urchin) was good. Very fresh and aromatic. Flavourful.
Ikura (Salmon roe): This was not bad. Above average quality. Believe it or not, some salmon roes served in Japanese restaurants are dried up. These were relatively fresh.
Anago (Salt-water eel): Soft, tender but I'd expected it to be Unagi instead of Anago as Anago is a less "deluxe" type of ingredient.
Tamago (Egg): Quite sweet. Not too tough. Decent quality.
Separate plate of Tekka Maki (shredded tuna x 3) and 3 pieces of Kappa maki (cucumber rolls): The tekka maki was surprisingly a bit better than the sashimi version. This is strange because Tekka Maki uses the less expensive part and irregular looking part of a tuna as the filling. Perhaps the irregular parts were from the better parts which were closer to the belly part (??).
Kappa Maki x 3: The cucumbers were quite fresh.
The common problem with all the sushi was that the rice was not held properly. It's too loose and the rice on the outside fell apart.
Furthermore, the vinegar taste was barely present. It was too light. These basic mistakes/problems are frankly unacceptable for a place that apparently specialized in sushi.
Red Miso Soup: A bowl of red miso soup was served together with the sushi set, which, according to my wife, was quite a traditional thing to do.
I find it somewhat surprising to have red miso soup instead of yellow miso soup because the taste of red miso, as opposed to the yellow or white miso, is quite strong and the texture murky so perhaps would cover up the fish taste. Anyway, it's the first time I was served with this red miso soups in sushi shops in Hong Kong.
I ordered a sochu to calm down a bit. Again, you generally need to order by the bottle. The minimum size was 180ml. Not by glass, as far as I'm aware.
180ml Shima kanro: HK$65
The taste for this sochu was strong but wasn't that aromatic as I hoped. I prefer "IICHIGO". Luckily, we've ordered a plate of Katsuo Shudo.
This was bonito marinated in salt and possibly a little bit of sake and mirin. It's saltier than a normal "Cheese Shudo". But the overall effect was easier to handle than "Ika shio tsuki" (salt marinated squid). I really liked this. It's like cheese shudo without the cheese, the spiciness and more salt. This helped me get through the evening.
Then came the overpriced sashimi:
順時針: 八爪魚-太韌 平目-肉質結實有彈性 吞拿魚腩-不太鮮 鰤魚-不突出
順時針: 八爪魚-太韌 平目-肉質結實有彈性 吞拿魚腩-不太鮮 鰤魚-不突出 ...
On average, it's HK$40 to HK$200 per two slices!!
It might be more easy to swallow - literally - if the sum was more reasonable. However, the quality was below average.
Tako (Octopus $70) was a bit too tough. The quality was very average. I didn't appreciate the way it was cut. It made it very tough to eat. Not cold enough. "Gokayama" at Causeway Bay serve much better octopus. That shop seemed to specialize in that.
Hirame (Flat fish $90): This was not bad. Fresh, tender and had some fatty fish oil taste but not cold enough.
Hamachi (Yellowtail $90): This was average quality, i.e. not bad, but again, not cold enough.
Maguro (Tuna - can't remember which part of the Toro -$110): Quite bad. Not as worse as Ihashi or the one I had at Nobu. But definitely very average for a shop that specializes in sushi and sashimi. A bit stale and the fiber was loosening. Just slightly better than the one I had at Hachiouji. Ihei, Senryo and especially Takesei and Koshu are much better.
I was a bit pissed off after having this moriawase and did not want to order anything more even if I'm quite hungry.
Bill: $1313 plus 10% service charge: $1,444.4...
Decor was good, clean and elegant. A bit too bright, quiet - everyone was whispering - and formal for my liking though.
Service was fine. The waitresses in particular were all nice and friendly. Recommendations by the manager could be trusted.
However, quality of the sushi and sashimi were just average and overpriced for a "specialist" sushi joint. I'll stick with Senryo for Kaiden Sushi. Kosho if I want to have a more cozy and special red sushi. New Kotobuki is also very good and much more reasonable. It also had a much more comprehensive menu.
As far as sushi shops are concerned, Okura and Sushi Takasei serve much better sashimi and sushi at the TST area.
According to other reviews, the price for lunch seemed to be a lot more reasonable.