Some people may think it is strange to do a post on what is best about Hong Kong and include Japanese food. But then they probably haven’t visited Hong Kong.
I think one of the eternal truths about Hong Kong is that it is not ‘Cantonese’ or ‘Chinese'; it is Hong Kong. This means that Ribena is as much a national drink as Chinese tea and bad Italian food is a fundamental right of all Hong Kongers.
But the one non-Chinesey cuisine which far and away dominates is Japanese. Like most of Asia, Hong Kong has a screwed up attitude to Japan. Its occupation in the war (from 1941 to 1945) is not fondly remembered but this doesn’t prevent the phrase “it’s Japanese” being one of the ultimate accolades for anything from food to consumer goods.
And the quality of Japanese food in Hong Kong is fairly ridiculously high; especially if you are coming from Europe. There are whole skyscrapers in Causeway Bay which have up to 25 floors of Japanese restaurants layered ontop of each other. So, given the multitude of choices, which are our favourites:
There is no doubt that this is probably the best Japanese restaurant in town right now and also one of the best restaurants full stop. It has everything 99.9% of Hong Kong restaurants don’t have: nice design, great (very attractive) service, attention to detail, a clever drink list, organic ingredients. It also has fantastic food. And then couple that with the fact that it is independently run and you can’t really do any better. The chef (Matt Abergel) is the ex head of Zuma Hong Kong and is doing great things.
- Price – HK$500 and upwards
- 33-35 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong (no reservations)
Europe is a deathland for ramen. The United States is a bit better. Hong Kong is (bar Japan) where it is at. Coming from London, a city which can’t even muster one half assed ramen joint, Hong Kong is like heaven to me. There are old favourites like MIST!, new Australian/ Japanese imports like Men-dokoro Ryo Tei and then the new comer bowl of joy – Ippudo.
Ippudo was one of my favourite restaurants in New York as it made waiting a chance to get drunk, feast on pork buns and soak up some cool. Hong Kong’s branch is unfortunately deposited in a shopping mall; but at least that is authentically Hong Kong. The ramen is good; not Japanese good but good. Still if you don’t like queuing I would highly suggest Ryo in Sheung Wan.
- Price – HK$200 for ramen, sides and pork buns
- Shop 210, Silvercord Tower, 30 Canton Road, TST, Hong Kong (no reservations)
This is one of the new generation of sushi/ sashimi restaurants that offers a more complete experience than the old stalwarts. When the Japanese earthquake happened this went from being the most fashionable restaurant in town to you being able to ring up and get a table courtside for a Friday lunch with 15 minutes notice. I took complete and utter advantage of this.
The food is at its best when you stick to sushi and if you are in front of chef Satoshi Sase it can be pretty remarkable. Coupled with an actually aesthetic space and it is one of my favourite places to eat Japanese.
- Price – HK$500 and far far upwards
- UG/F, Hilltop Plaza, 49 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong (2815 0455)
This is the old big mega money favourite in Hong Kong. I have to say whilst the quality of the food is good, I think the experience is very 1980s. Still, if you aren’t paying, it is a great food choice and you would feel that the rowdy incohate room is less objectionable.
- Price – HK$1,000 or more per head
- G/F, 30 Minden Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong (2369 8307)
My favouirte little neighbourhood sushi joint. The best service I have ever had anywhere ever (read this old review for why) in a small relaxing room. The fish is fresh, once the chef gets to know you he gets adventurous and they do six foot Hokkaido crabs.
- Price – HK$50 and up per head
- G/F, 24 Wing Shing Building, Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong (2818 1923)
(EDIT – I’ve had a couple of people mention that they’ve had not great meals at Gutlee recently which leads me to think they may have changed chef? I hope not)