We tried this the first time more than 1/2 a year ago in my quest to find Japanese restaurants which could cure home-sicknesses (for my wife) and could quell the urge for Izakaya (and sochu, for me.)
This shop did not disappoint.
The restaurant really made it easy for customers to order their signature yakitoris by having two dinner courses to choose from, namely, the simply named yet effective: 11 skewer set, and the equally concise: 12 skewer set. Priced at HK$300 and HK$330 respectively, accompanied by a simple vegetable salad, miso soup, Japanese rice and preserved vegetables.
A quick look at the simple menu confirmed that the set was indeed a bit, and I stress just a little bit, more value for money (about 8% cheaper with a salad, a bowl of rice, miso soup and a little bit of preserved vegetables).
We ordered a 12 skewer set, other a la carte skewers, as well as a kawaponzu.
First came the salad and some beans. The salad was a standard vegetable salad with some Japanese vinegar dressing. The beans were marinated with white miso as well as a bit of pork. It's quite sweet and the taste was quite interesting. What's noteworthy was the plate of grated turnip placed next to the bean. So far, this is the only yakitori shop which I know served grated turnip.
The purpose of the grated turnip is for you to eat it together with the yakitori. Somewhat similar to the function of the grated turnip with the tempura, so it would be less hard on your throat the next day as it "reduces heat". A very good idea indeed.
Then came the negima, which meant chicken meat grilled with leek. A typical Japanese Izakaya dish which could easily be overcooked and is perhaps not such an easy dish to do well, despite its simple appearance. The negima here was done very nicely. The chicken was tender and juicy and matched well with the slightly crispy leek:
The shishito, that is, green chilli pepper, was quite nice. Average standard so nothing to complaint about. By the way, I'd recommend ordering a shishito whenever you're having yakitori or a lot of fried food as it also helps to reduce your "body heat" according to Chinese medicine theory so you wouldn't have headaches or sore throat...etc. afterwards.
The piman, green bell pepper, was quite good. It was quite sweet and juicy. What distinguished the piman here from other yakitori shops was that they grilled it together with quite a lot of salt and as a result, it was quite refreshing. The sea salt mixed well with the liquorish taste of the piman.
The Negi, "Leek", was part of the dinner set and was perhaps served to stimulate the taste buds a bit ? I wouldn't go out of my way to order it though:
We also ordered grilled garlic and onions (tamanegi):
The Pork Belly was pretty good. The pork belly had the right balance of fat and meat. The timing was good so it was crispy but not dried.
All these vegetables were nothing to complaint about. The onions was a bit oily though. When it comes to grilled vegetables, like shishito, piman, onions, garlic, sweet corn...etc., I find the yakitori shop "Jun" a lot better than most yakitori shops. The chicken kidney at Jun is also better.
Then came the tsukune:
There were chicken cartilage inside. The chicken cartilage was just the right texture - not too hard nor too soft. Just crunchy enough to enhance the overall texture of the whole tsukune.
Definitely one of the best I've had, whether compared with those I had in Japan or in Hong Kong. Highly recommended.
Since the chicken in this shop was of very good quality, we could not help but ordered another minced chicken themed dish. This time we ordered a minced chicken ball nabe. (I can't remember the Japanese name.). The cuttlefish which the other table ordered also looked good so we also ordered it as well.
The soup base of the nabe was standard dashi, fish broth. However, the minced chicken balls were nice and tender. It had a fresh chicken taste as well. Some chopped onions and pepper were also mixed into the chicken balls. At about $68 per pot, it's quite reasonable given the quality. This is also recommended.
To celebrate such a good meal, I've ordered a glass of sake - kubota senjyu (HK$90):
We've ordered three glasses of sochu and two draught beer (one Asahi and one Tsing Tao) for the night.
The interior of the shop was a bit dated, like most Japanese restaurants in the TST East area. There was one or two fruit flies flying around at the end of the dinner and I suggest the shop get rid of those as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, the restaurant had a very comfortable and calm ambiance. The tables were placed wide apart. Most tables could see the streets of TST East as well. The counter seats were suitable for single diners as well. The ceiling was high and the ventilation was very good. It wasn't smokey at all despite the chefs constantly grilling something.
The staff and the chefs were all very friendly and polite. They were very attentive and most of them could speak Japanese and Cantonese. Even the Japanese boss, who was the main chef, seemed to be able to utter a few words in Cantonese.
The bill came down to about HK$500 per person (drinks inclusive). If you're not into drinking - not a lot anyway, you could get a very decent yakitori meal at about HK$330. All in all, other than the over priced dishes used to accompany alcohol, the chicken dishes were all reasonably priced and of great quality.
I'll return here again and again.
Supplementary Information:If you like the tsukune, the bamboo minced chicken meat served at "Jinya", Mong Kok, was also very good, to my utter surprise. The tsukune at Hataka dojo is not as good but close (it's not consistent enough).
Recommended Dish(es): 雞肉軟骨串
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Mar 31, 2012
Spending per head: Approximately HKD450(Dinner)
Value for Money3
Keep it up!