Retro & fun decoration but average food quality.
The first time we were here was almost two years ago. It had a very interesting "retro" Japanese feel to it. Basically, the whole shop was decorated with stuff from the Showa Period [1925 - 1989]. I later know it's also part of the same group as "Ramen Kureka".
We were attracted by the decor at first. However, we couldn't remember the theme of the restaurant. So almost two years later, after my wife finished some business around the area, we decided to try it again.
There was a new sign board above the shop which said "Retro Izakaya". So at least that's a relatively useful indication. Read the signboards and "subtitles". It usually contains useful information, especially in Japanese restaurants - not all Japanese restaurants specializes in sushi, sashimi, tempura or yakitori. Some are primarily drinking places which served a bit of food, i.e. "Izakayas". Somewhat like the snacks provided in a Western bar. This place was one of those.
The seats seemed a bit more cramped than my recollection. Perhaps they added another table or two? The distances between the tables were even closer than those at "Sakaegawa" (榮川), i.e. very cramped - unless you could get the box seats.
The table was very slippery and easy to shift backwards and forwards as well.
This was quite inconvenient and slightly dangerous. I suggest the restaurant put some rubber stoppers at the legs of their tables.
Even if you manage to secure a table for four, don't think you're safe. To my utter surprise, they do the cha chaan teng style of letting other customers sit at your table!
It's not 100% cha chaan teng style because they slip the two tables so that there is 1cm (!
!) between the two tables. Very surprising for the price you're paying.
To make things worse, there was a table behind us, Hong Kongers plus Mandarine speakers. There was one Hong Kong middle-aged guy decided that he had to sprinkle his loud conversations with swear words in three different languages, Cantonese, Putonghua and English. This was probably done to show his masculinity in front of his friends from abroad. Or that he was simply a bit high on his draught Asahi.
If you can't hold your drink, don't drink! Making a fool out of oneself is fine as long as you don't do it in public.
If there is one thing that'd ruin my dining experience immediately, it's people who swears in a restaurant.
I swear, a lot (mentally, especially at work
), but never in a restaurant, where it would affect other diners. Not something an educated person should do.
OK, so I've got that guy swearing his head off behind me and two Japanese customers sitting at a table pretty close to us as well. This was definitely not a relaxing atmosphere. On the other hand, it's a relatively authentic experience as there are rowdier Izakayas in Japan.
So the solution to the problem is, as always, a beer.
We ordered two draught Asahi. There's a good promotion by the way. The kind waiter reminded us that they had beer promotions. Two large pints for $80. Otherwise, the normal price was $50 for a large pint and $35 for a small pint. Thanks a lot for the reminder!
Talking about the service, all the waiters were very good. Efficient and polite. The manager was quite highly strung but still trying to keep everthing under control. Good points for the service.
After a rather long look at the interestingly designed menu, which was in Japanese, Chinese and English, we placed our orders:
First came the "Ankimo
", which is monkfish liver marinated in salt and sake, with veins picked up, then rolled up and steamed. It's usually served with ponzu sauce and konbu. It's a cold delicacy. It was slightly dry at certain parts and the quality wasn't as good as those I've tried at "Ginza Okura" but still much better than "Ihashi".
(I only knew this was one of the seafood dishes to avoid because of unsustainable fishing practices after checking Wiki. Perhaps I'll stop ordering this then. There are plenty of other delicious dishes to order anyway
I find it a bit pricey in view of the price and the quality - $65.
Then came the "Natto Ika
", which means natto with squid. It is usually served with wasabi and soy sauce, which wasn't provided to us before we specifically asked for it. It's strange to see Natto Ika served on a bed of konbu (which was a bit dried and tasteless) and some type of fern (the purple leaves) which is usually used in kaiseki ryori or served with sashimi:
This was definitely small for the price - $55. The quality of the natto was fine (if a bit small). The cuttlefish was quite fresh. If I remember correctly, you could order the same dish at the same price but almost triple the size and with much better quality for the natto and ika at the Izakaya nearby, "Kyozasa" 京笹 . Kyozasa is not as "retro" but the quality of seafood and other delicacies are generally quite good.
The chicken tsukune
(minced chicken pattie) looked interesting:
But the meat was too hard. Though there were chicken soft bones inside the chicken tsukune, it did not mix well with the slightly cold, hard and relatively flavourless chicken mean. Unfortunately, the egg wasn't very flavourful and the spring onions weren't too fresh and dry.
HK$48.Showa Jidai quality:
You generally wouldn't expect proper restaurant quality food at bars and pubs (other than the gastropubs). I understand the same idea applies to Izakayas. Traditionally, it's primarily a drinking place that served some snack to accompany your sake, sochu or beer. Customers won't expect very high quality food (then again, the food standard in Japan are usually not that bad anyway). Yakitori is a simple type of cuisine that doesn't require a lot of space to process so it's very popular in Izakayas.
This is why I say this place is a very authentic retro Izakaya - when it comes to food quality......
We over heard the two Japanese customers next to us saying "Oishii (delicious)" after they had the sashimi. The finished it. In view of that, we were a bit interested to try out the sashimi so we had a look at the menu again.
They had quite a lot of sushi and sashimi to choose from. They have a few types of assorted sashimis, "Hachiouji sashimi moriawase" (about 10 different types of sashimi), "Showa sashimi moriawase" - 8 types and "Jidai sashimi moriawase" (5 types - $168)
We ordered the "Jidai
They used "real wasabi" as opposed to the toothpaste one. But fresh wasabi shouldn't be overwhelmingly sharp but should be a bit mild and sweet with spicy aftertaste. These tasted too sharp, probably because it wasn't too fresh.
Shell fish x2 weren't too bad but not cold enough.
The two shrimps were acceptable but not cold enough as well.
Salmon x 3 were the best, but too oily for my wife.
Hamachi x 3 were not too bad but definitely very standard quality.
However, the maguro was bad. Not fresh at all and a bit soggy. It barely had any fish taste. Not recommended.
很差: Tuna 不新鮮．
I ordered a glass of Ichigo after that ($42).
Even "Q" thinks the quality of the maguro was shocking:
The leads to another point. The seafood at Tokyo is not fresh compared to othe regions of Japan. From what I understand from many Japanese, Tsukiji fish market stalls do not sell seafood from Tokyo - the water is probably as polluted as those in Hong Kong, if not worse. Tokyoites are less "strict" about the quality of seafood than inhabitants elsewhere, like my wife. So not a very good indication of food quality. The two Japanese customers should be from Tokyo. Another lesson in "don't just follow the crowd blindly".
Then came the nanban chicken
Nanban Chicken ($48) was already one of the better dishes of the evening but arrived pretty late, almost more than 40-45 minutes (it was the last dish to have arrived but for reasons you'll know later, I've changed the order a bit).
We we first took a bite, it was surprisinly soft!
The batter was fairly oily but not that crunchy!
I hope they didn't boil the chicken first before frying it - it certainly seemed a bit like it. The chicken meat was not too bad as it had some chicken taste. I'd suggest that they put the mayo sauce separately and it was a bit overwhelming. Not comparable to those at Hakata Dojo.
The namban fired chicken at Hakata Dojo 博多道場 were consistently juicy, tender and the batters were very crispy yet not too oily. (By the way, the food quality of the CWB branch is more consistent than the TST branch and they serve great lunch sets at reasonable price too.)
If I remember correctly, the yakitoris here weren't anything spectacular but OK.Meitaigo with fried tofu
This dish came before the namban chicken. The meitaigo (spicy cod fish roe) seemed to be grilled beforehand and were quite crunchy!
The fried tofu was quite good. It had a good soy bean taste to it. The texture was nice - on the firm side but not overcooked. ($58) This turns out to be the best dishes of the evening.
- Very crowded at night. Only acceptable if you get a box seat.
- Good service and interesting retro decor.
- Sashimi is not recommended.
- Generally a bit pricey.
- Draught Asahi Beer at reasonable price.
- The sochu was also reasonable.
- Good Ika but a bit pricey.
- Meitaigo Tofu was good.
I initially wanted to give this a "Crying" face. But on reflection, although some of the foodstuff, namely the sashimi set, was below average, my mood was probably significantly effected by the swearing middle-aged guy and the noise. So if you're just here for a quick beer/ sochu, a little bit of snack and childhood memories, it might not be too bad. But if I'm at Ashley Road, I prefer Kyozasa, Weinstube or Castro's. 總評：
In this regard, there is a very dangerous "ear-worm
" which I've wanted to show you for a long time but couldn't find the appropriate restaurant to do so. Since the meitaiko (not to be confused with tarako) here was the best dish of the evening, I'll present to you......
They probably said "Tarako" 57 times in that Kewpie Tarako pasta sauce song. The jumping baby face is a cod roe, i.e. Tarako.
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Jul 05, 2012
Spending per head: Approximately HKD340Other Ratings:
Value for Money 2