Inaniwa Udon specialist shop;
Also serves many different types of hotpots;
Spacious decor, Good service;
However, very bland sauce for the undon;
Tempura was too oily;
Significant improvement required.Inaniwa Udon:
Inaniwa Udon 稲庭うどん is one of the top three types of udon in Japan, the other two being Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん thickest) and Mizusawa udon (水沢うどん somewhere between Inaniwa udon and Sanuki but I haven't tried this before). Inaniwa Udon is handmade and then dried like most Chinese noodle cakes. It is said that Inaniwa Udon was invented in the Inaniwa village by Mr. Sato Yousuke （佐藤養助） sometime in the 16th century.
This shop states that they use Inaniwa Udon from the Yousuke family, who still handmade the undon using a secret formula passed down from generation to generation. Sounded pretty promising so we came here to try it out.Decor
The place had a really high ceiling and widely spaced out tables. It seemed fairly similar to Kurotake at the World Trade Centre:
稲庭烏冬專門店: 環境寬敞, 樓低很高。有點似黒瀧的感覺但更舒服。
Nice, quiet and comfortable.Menu:
The nicely designed menu was in Chinese, English and Japanese with good introductions to Akita （秋田県）prefecture, different types of nabe and Inaniwa udon.
They served a decent selection of appetizers, a small selection of robotayaki, salad, different types of nabe (hotpot) and of course, their signature dish, Inaniwa udon:
有沙律, 幾款前菜, 炸物及天婦羅供應。
We ordered a tomato salad
, fried squid cake
, a cold inaniwa udon with three different types of sauces
and a tempura inaniwa set
We initially thought that this nicely named dish "Gomoku Ikaage" was going to be something special; however, when it arrived (within 5 minutes after we placed our order), it was just a very normal squid fish cake you can get in any Japanese supermarket. Specialists fish cake shop like "Kibun" in the food court at TST SOGO sell much better ika age.
It's only lukewarm and the ginger must have been place in open air for too long, which really affected the taste significantly. As to the squid cake itself, the sweet shreds of carrots, spring onions and small amount of vegetables could not cover the staleness of the squid cake. It did not taste very fresh. Tomato salad
This arrived a minute after the squid cake:
Served with a small pot of ponzu and light soy sauce mixture.
The tomatoes were quite fresh and sweet. Pouring the sauce over what seemed to be rocket leaves and the Japanese tomatoes really enhanced the dish.
This was the best part of the meal... Seiro 3 flavours - HK$138:
According to the menu, the three different types of sauces for you to dip the cold Inaniwa udon into were (from left to right): Tororo
(i.e. mountain yam sauce), Duck sauce
and Onsen tamago sauce
Unfortunately, all three types of sauce weren't good. Tororo
sauce: The tororo was not thick enough. The pathetic amount of nori "dusts" did not help the taste at all. The soy sauce used in the sauce barely had any soy sauce taste. Because of its texture, it's very hard for the sauce to cling on to the udon.Duck
sauce: According to the website of Sato Yousuke, the godfather of Inaniwa Udon, this sauce should be called "sesame miso". That seemed more accurate as we could not sense any duck taste in this "duck sauce" but we could feel traces of pork bone soup with a very strong sesame taste. Since the sauce was heavily diluted, it couldn't really cling on to the udon as well.Onsen Tamago
sauce: Again, this was too light for our tastes. It tasted like diluted light Japanese soy sauce with a runny egg yoke inside the pot. Mixing the egg did practically nothing to the sauce as the egg taste was weak.
Because of the odd tastes of all three sauces, my wife could not finish her udon. Tempura set:
只兩蝦和一茄子不抵食! 沒天婦羅汁不尊業。麵汁比【黑滝】淡口的汁更淡! 薑,荵和芝麻不太鮮不能提味。
My set came with a pot of tsuyu, a small plate which contained ginger, sesame and spring onions and two prawns tempura and one piece of egg plant.
The first thing I noticed was that I wasn't provided with either salt or special tsuyu for tempura. I am trying not to be too nitpicking here, but I believe if the sauce is for the udon, then it should not be for the tempura. To use an extreme example, chili soy sauce maybe good with your steamed prawns but not so good if you use it to steam fish.
Anyway, I found that the sauce was suitable for neither items. It had the same problem with the other three sauces - too bland. It's even worse than the sauce at Kurotaki.
The oxidized grated ginger, spring onions and sesame seeds did nothing to enhance the taste. Very disappointing.
天婦羅: 炸槳沉底毫不均勻。估計炸槳太稀或油不夠多和熱!蝦和茄子都太油! 但蝦總算有點蝦味。
As you could see from the photo, the tempura batter
was spread in a highly uneven manner. It was thick at the lower part but very thin on top.
Judging from the how odd the batter was, the batter was either too watery or that the oil used wasn't hot enough. It might be both. The batter was crunchy but very oily. I have to say I was expecting a lot more than this for my Tempura set which cost me more than HK$138.
Having said that, at least the prawn had some prawn taste. It wasn't too bad. Same with the nasu (eggplant), not exceptional but no complaints. Inani...What!? udon?!
Finally, a few words about the udon
literally means a basket used for steaming. Seiro Inaniwa udon means cold udon served on such a basket. It's supposed to be double the size of the bamboo container used here. I hope this spark of creativity in Hong Kong is not simply a cost cutting exercise or an attempt to cut down the servings. You'll have already noticed that the seiro is much bigger in the clip above. The bundle of udon appeared to be somewhat more substantial as well but that may be my imagination. The colour of the Inaniwa udon in the video was silk-like, shiny and almost transparent!
Compare the above to this:
To be fair, the taste of the udon was acceptable. It's chewier than sanuki udon and rather smooth. However, I've definitely had much better Inaiwa udon elsewhere in Hong Kong. For a shop that sells such high quality Inaiwa udon, their level of execution is surprisingly low.
The udon shown on the photo above was the left over Inaniwa udon in my wife's set. She couldn't finished it despite her best efforts. In order not to waste food, I had the unsavory task to finish this unsavory, sticky and messy pile of udon. Mine wasn't as silky or shiny as the clip above but was still better than my wife's udon - at least those I had wasn't glued together.
I believe the udons were overcooked and not tossed properly enough before putting it into ice and rising it in ice cold water. Significant improvement is definitely required! Udon specialist?!
The servers were reasonably polite and quite efficient.
Nice, spacious decor.
The sauce for the Inaniwa udon were all bland.
However, we will not rule out another visit to this place to try out their nabe.Inaniwa udon: Not recommended.
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Spending per head: Approximately HKD230(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 2