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2019-09-25 1301 views
This Japanese restaurant first started in the now demolished New World Harbour Centre, after 30 years of providing authentic and wonderful Japanese cuisine to customers. Chef Okura Masataka decided to re-open the restaurant at Chatham Road South, calling it Ginza (the original name) Okura. We came here on the Sat evening, and reserved the sushi bar to enjoy a close proximity to the actions and allowing the interactions with the chef. The setting is rather simple, with the sushi counter at the c
This Japanese restaurant first started in the now demolished New World Harbour Centre, after 30 years of providing authentic and wonderful Japanese cuisine to customers. Chef Okura Masataka decided to re-open the restaurant at Chatham Road South, calling it Ginza (the original name) Okura. We came here on the Sat evening, and reserved the sushi bar to enjoy a close proximity to the actions and allowing the interactions with the chef.
The setting is rather simple, with the sushi counter at the corner, a number of tables in the main dining area, as well as a number of private rooms. The restaurant was very quiet in the evening, probably affected by the recent issues in town. Seated in front of where Chef Okura prepares the dishes, we were surprised by how fluent his Cantonese was, and we also were charmed by his warm smile and friendly attitude.
Decided to go for the Omakase ($1800), with the first course being Mozuku, a type of edible seaweed naturally found in Okinawa. Chef Okura first put the marinated mozuku into a large shot-glass, and then adding the mashed yam in. The seaweed has a great texture and the vinegar sauce is also very appetizing. The yam provided a nice contrast with the slimy note. A very nice start for the meal.
The second course is a Ripe Tomato Salad. The tomato is very sweet and the chef had already removed the skin so there is not fibrous residue when eating it. Underneath is some yuzu jelly providing a refreshing acidity which is highly complementary with the flavors of the tomato. Although it looks simple, the essence is the quality of the ingredients and how the chef is able to highlight the original flavors to the extreme. Another wonderful dish.
The third course is Fresh Oyster. I forgot to ask the chef where the oyster came from, and it is certainly fat and juicy, with the first bite bursting with a briny note from the sea. The bit of chives and radish offered a slight condiment to the taste and is a standard way found in Japanese cuisine. Personally I would prefer a more crunchy texture for the oyster so this might not be my favorite. However, it is definitely very fresh and tasty.
The fourth course is Hirame with Uni. The flounder is first cut thinly and then the chef carefully put some sea urchin on top, before rolling it up. There is a generous portion of two pieces given to me, and the flounder has a great chewy texture, soft and delicate in taste, while the sea urchin is wonderful, creamy and sweet. This is another great dish which testified the attention to the quality of the ingredients.
The fifth course is Hirame no Engawa, or the frilled border of the flounder. The chef first cut out the two strips of tail fin muscle, then torched it to burn the fish oil to give a really nice smell and vibrancy. Biting into it the texture is very crunchy, and the rich fish oil is so intense and flavorful that the taste retains in the mouth for quite a while. I always found it amazing how the Japanese chef could use these sort of 'leftover' to recreate some of the most tasty dishes.
The sixth course is Isaki and Shima-aji Sashimi. The former is also known as Chicken Grunt, lean with a crisp and chewy texture, and honestly is one of my favorite white-meat fish, having concentrated flavors. Shima-aji is another premium fish also known as striped-jack. The meat is lighter in taste compared with Isaki, but got an even more crunchy texture. Both of the fish are really great in freshness and nice.
The seventh course is Hokkigai, or Surf Clam. The chef picked one large clam from the sushi counter and sent over to the kitchen to cut it open and clean. Returning, he then went on to cut the clam into several big pieces. Again it shows how generous the chef is on the portion, and the clam is so wonderful on the taste, crunchy in texture. I could feel like eating in the ocean with the saline sensation fully engulfing my mouth.
The eighth course is Botan Ebi, or large prawn that is renown for the sweet taste. After cutting the head off, the chef sent it to the kitchen for preparing the miso soup which was served later. The prawn was then cleaned and served on a piece of lemon. True to its fame, the meat was super sweet and got a firm texture that even without checking one would know the freshness. Another great sashimi on the night.
The ninth course is Horagai, or giant conch sashimi. The size of the conch is really enormous, and the chef cutting a number of pieces from the big body of the cooked conch, putting on a plate with some sea salt for seasoning. Extremely crunchy on texture and tasty, the conch is not rubbery at all, showing how meticulous the chef is on the cooking time and temperature, and although it looks simple, this is another testament to the skills of the chef.
The tenth course is another of my all-time favorite, Sanma or Pacific Saury, best in the fall season and starting to get fat. While some people may think they are very fishy and might not like it, having tried some of the best I know they could be a feast of intense flavors, and pairing with the right sauce also helped to subdue that too. The silvery skin shows how fresh the fish was and while it might not be at the best fatty stage they are very good already.
The eleventh course is the last of the sashimi before the sushi. The huge piece of Scallop, after torching to give a nice char on the surface, is wrapped in a piece of crispy seaweed. Served still hot, the sweetness of the scallop permeated into every sense and again there is just a pure enjoyment in palate. Even now when I am writing the review my mouth was still watering recalling the experience.
There are a total of nine sushi served. The first piece is Kohada, or Gizzard Shad. There is a saying that this fish is the king of all silver-skinned fish, and the chef had prepared a nice strip of meat with the silvery sheen and dark spots signature to it, cut in the middle and cured in salt and vinegar. A classic Edomae sushi, it is not too commonly seen in sushi restaurants in HK however, probably because of the steps needed to take all the small bones out. But the taste is certainly memorable.
The second sushi is Nodoguro, or Black Throat Sea Perch. Many regarded this fish as one of the most premium white-meat fish in Japan, and certainly the price also indicates that. The fish is really tender, with also a nice balance of fat which intensifies the flavors. Only available in the high-end restaurants, I felt so lucky with the big portion served, and it was one of my favorites in the evening as well.
The third sushi is probably my favorite shellfish, Ishigakigai. Although the name Ishigaki is the same as an island in Okinawa, the clam has nothing to do with the area, coming from the northern part of Japan instead. Normally the chef would hit the clam so the muscle retracts before serving, with the crunchiness, sweetness, and freshness of the shellfish really are above and beyond other types. My strong recommendation if one has not tried it before.
The fourth sushi is Uni, or sea urchin. The chef used the gunkan style to prepare, so it is easier to hold the sea urchin on top of the rice. The uni is very good in taste, sweet and not having any weird note that I often found in local Japanese restaurants.
The fifth sushi is Katsuo, or Bonito. As the fish can spoil easily, it is not often found outside Japan. The meaty red flesh of the fish is intense in taste, and the chef had added some ginger and chives on top to reduce the bloody note and overall is another nice choice if you want something less commonly seen.
The sixth sushi is Kinmedai, or golden eye snapper, most famous from the area of Shizuoka. The fish is aged for a couple of days beforehand to breakdown the meat to a softer level, and then the chef slightly torched it to bring alive the fish oil, providing a rich and tender enjoyment.
The seventh sushi is Mashed Toro, wrapped in a piece of crispy seaweed. The tuna is very soft and tender in texture when prepared in this manner, with the flavors very intense too.
The eighth sushi is one of the most flavorful fish regarded by many, Otoro or Tuna Belly. Unlike some where there are simply too much fat and taste like eating a fatty layer, this one has in my opinion the perfect balance, with the fat level increasing the flavors but not overall greasy.
The chef then presented the Miso Soup, made with the Botan Ebi Prawn head earlier. Tasty indeed, and a warmth finish to the wonderful meal.
But before the dessert is served, we were surprised by the chef, who brought us another piece of sushi. But this one I have never tried (or even seen!) before. A chives sushi! Honestly the taste is, well, chives. However it is a great cleanser of the palate.
The fruit served is the seasonal peach, very sweet and juicy. Again I could not believe how many pieces we are provided. Typically in many restaurants there maybe only one or two pieces but here there are a total of five and basically the whole peach. And the quality of the peach is also phenomenal.
Last is the Sorbet and I picked the Yuzu flavor. Refreshing and of appropriate sweetness, this is the finale of the meal and with everything it was the a truly wonderful omakase dinner I have for a long while.
As my wife was still recovering from her surgery and not eating the raw fish, she had ordered a Grilled Kinki instead. It was very nice too, with the fish meat very tender and smooth.
The bill on the night was $4,268 as I also ordered a bottle of sake. The price is very reasonable considering the quality of the food and the generous portion. Seeing that tonight they only have so little customers make me sad but I am sure Chef Okura has seen all the ups and downs in HK and will weather it through. And I will also want to be a regular customer too.