A restaurant that could even go wrong with pickled items.
Unprofessional service．Not cheap, poor quality.
Out of the frying pan:
My wife wanted to try the lunch menu of Niji Bistro around the corner. We were a bit late so the lunch menu had been swapped. (I was secretly glad that it did as I'm not a big fan of Omurice ) so we entered this to try it out.
I just left my guard off a bit and did not check Open Rice before I enter this restaurant.
Little did I realize that we jumped out of the frying pan
and into the fire...
The power of suggestion?
There was a huge queue even at 3 p.m. despite tons of free seats at counter. I found that a bit strange.
Anyway, we approached and then the manager (?) in front gave me a ticket without asking anything.
If you're handed a ticket, most people's reflex action is to wait until the number is called. This strategy didn't work for me, a rather troublesome person at the best of times.
I asked him about those counter seats. Then he said we could get those if we wanted to. He said to himself (or to us) "Why didn't anyone (點解冇人) take counter seats?" (He might have said "No one (冇人) take counter seats." but I'll give him the benefit of doubt.)
After we sat, other counter seats were allocated to other customers as well. So the answer to his philosophical question is simple: He didn't ask.
I'm sure he was not trying to reduce customer turnovers to reduce his workload, and not trying to exploit the possible ignorance or placidness of customers who might be mainly tourists with language barriers..
The nicely designed menu had the following sections:
- Pork cutlets (Japanese Miyazaki cutlets or Canadian pork cutlets);
- Fried prawns set;
- Fried sea food platter for two person (it appears to be two prawns and a piece of fried salmon) No scallops.
All cutlet sets came with Miso Soup, a Bowl of Rice and pickled items - standard stuff. No unlimited refill like in Saboten or Tonkatsu.
- Bento boxes: About 5-6 types of bento: Prawn tempura bento, Angus Steak Bento, US Burger Bento, Salmon Bento and others which didn't leave an impression.
I ordered the HIPpest set 101: Miyazaki Pork Cutlet set (HK$138) Apparently a signature set of HIP.
My wife ordered American Angus Steak Set ($96) She wasn't asked how she'd like the steak to be cooked nor did she specify. We later learnt from the receipt that it's 70% cooked (medium?) by default.
The miso soup appeared on our side suddenly without any warning and before anything else:
What's that big spoon for? One's not supposed to use a spoon to drink miso soup - just chopsticks. If HIP is professing to be an authentic Japanese restaurant, they should know this. That's basic.
The taste was fine with tofu and kelp.
My wife's set came:
According to my wife, the Angus steak was edible - but quite tough. The rice wasn't Japanese rice and didn't have much taste wherever the rice grains were from. At least the pickled turnips were fine, unlike mine.
My set arrived in a rather "artistic" manner:
My set was spread over the length of two seats.
The waitress simple placed everything everywhere and made no attempt to organize things even just a bit.
Never mind that. Sometimes, if you change your perspective, things actually aren't such a big deal. A similar sentiment is like when you watch a B-grade movie that's so bad that it's actually funny.
I'm prepared. Let's see what they could throw at yours truly:
Forget about the DIY sesame, unlimited free rice or lettuce you get in Ginza Bairin, Saboten, Tonkichi or Romankan Yokohama.
They have yuzu vinegar sauce for the salad. That wasn't anything like the olive oil infused black vinegar at Saboten. This was just bland vinegar sauce with a hint of yuzu. No complaints but nothing exciting either.
The sauce for the katsu was really average supermarket grade stuff which was a bit stale too. Even the supermarket grade sauce taste a bit fresher than those here.
Another problem I have was that I wasn't even provided with a small dish for any sauce. Pouring the sauce directly on the pork cutlet wasn't desirable as the batter will become too soggy if I pour it too early. On the other hand, it's too troublesome if I pour after every bite or two.
The other jar was just shoyu.
I have to say that this piece of cutlet, which was as expensive as the "Big Boys" mentioned above, was quite a disappointment.
The batter was fine, crunchy and not oily, but the meat was too tough and didn't have much meat taste. Any one of the restaurants mentioned above serve better pork cutlet than here. It's the worse amongst the Japanese cutlets I've tried. The size was also smaller than average. Almost 25% smaller than what I had at Tonkichi.
The lettuce was fine but, like I have mentioned above, the yuzu sauce was quite bland and didn't match too well with the lettuce. It was a bit too sour.
The rice was again not Japanese rice, bland and tasteless.
But what was funny was that the pickled turnip - the yellow, crunchy things to eat with rice - usually the last thing to go wrong, did go wrong!
It was completely not crunchy at all. Instead, it was soggy and did not taste refreshing at all - most likely not preserved properly. I gave a piece to my wife and she also found it not acceptable. The burdock was similarly bad. I can't imagine how pickled items could go wrong like this.
I still finished the whole set because I didn't want to waste any food. While I was trying hard to do so, I was thinking about another philosophical question:
Is it the chef's fault or the customer's fault if the food could not be finished due to bad cooking?
I'd say it's OK if I was served this meal in a causal restaurant not purporting to be a Japanese restaurant for HK$50. However, they charged me "expert" price but gave me amateur results, including unprofessional service throughout the meal.
Like I said, sometimes a B-grade movie could be so bad that it's funny. But paying more than HK$150 for the cutlet set wasn't. A crying face it has to be.
P.S. The best thing about today's trip was that we got to see SEDOV nearby:
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Spending per head: Approximately HKD130(Lunch)
Value for Money1
Keep it up!