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Hong Kong's Best Japanese Restaurants: The Sushi and the Ecstasy



If Hong Kong has a fetish for one particular cuisine, it's Japanese. Why is this so? Well, there are probably more theories than items on a sushi menu, but the main ones go like this: Japanese is sorta like home-grown Cantonese, with its fondness for high quality ingredients and devotion to rice; it's a little more more exotic, and a little bit more expensive, so great for a date, a celebration, or a business lunch or dinner; and – if time presses – you can eat quickly and move on. Nobody ever stays still for long in this town.

As a result of all this, there are more Japanese restaurants in town than you can poke a chopstick at. They range from the extremely formal, such as Nadaman, to almost cheap and definitely cheerful joints that are little more than a few tables, a kitchen and a guy hollering at potential customers on the sidewalk outside. The celebrity side of things is well taken care of by Nobu, which also enjoys a quite splendid harbor view, one of the essentials of Hong Kong dining. And the younger generation is well represented by the likes of Yardbird.

Japanese food fans will find themselves impressed by the authenticity of Hong Kong's Japanese restaurants, which bear favorable comparison with those back in Japan.


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10
Causeway Bay


With sushi and sashimi dishes to rival even the best restaurants in Japan, Sushi Hiro of Hong Kong is one of the top sushi bars in the city. There are three menus and your particular chef on duty will suggest his favorite dishes to get you started. The atmosphere is pleasant yet bustling as waiters and chefs alike tend to the tables and drop off food. While a night at Sushi Hiro can be pricey, there's no better way to spend your money on fresh Japanese cuisine while visiting the Pearl of the Orient. There are several Sushi Hiro branches around town.


9
Central


A stylish take on Japanese cuisine, Sushi Kuu finds itself at the top of the food chain in traditionally Asian inspired restaurants. The atmosphere is warm and pleasant and the staff on hand work just as well with patrons just popping in for a snack as they do with groups coming in for a prolonged sit-down dinner. With rave reviews and a repetitively affordable price point, Sushi Kuu is definitely on the short list of sushi joints to visit in Central, Hong Kong. Tempura, rice dishes and grilled meat are some of Sushi Kuu's other tempting options and well worth trying.


Unkai
Photo courtesy of Unkai


Unkai is a small Japanese chain with locations is several upscale hotels. Spacious and airy, the space is divided into six separate areas; private and open teppan rooms, a sushi and sake bar, private rooms, main dining room and a tatami room - and accented with elements of nature (stone, wood, bamboo). Whether you're craving for sushi or pining for a teppanyaki performance meal, Unkai will satisfy. At lunch, they offer more than 20 different lunch sets, and there's a menu of over 100 sakes to sample. A very worthwhile option in a city that is crammed full of Japanese restaurants.


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7
Central


This 160-seat Japanese restaurant, located within the Four Seasons Hotel, is on the higher end scale of dining venues in Hong Kong. They receive shipments of fresh fish from Japanese fisheries daily, so seafood is this restaurant's specialty, but their beef dishes are also top notch with the Sukiyaki Wagu Beef dish being one of the more popular choices. As might be expected in such an upmarket hostelry, prices are commensurate with the excellence of the ingredients, decor and service. However, if you decide to treat yourself, it's worthwhile setting aside a couple of hours or more to truly relish the experience.


6
Tsim Sha Tsui
Sagano


This elegant restaurant is situated almost right on top of Victoria Harbour, and named after one of the best-known suburbs of Kyoto, the heart of Japanese culture. Dishes change seasonally, and the yosenabe is especially well done. The sake bar here is also excellent. Most importantly, this is a Japanese owned hotel, and run on Japanese lines, so as might be expected the Japanese cuisine is top-notch. Expect all your favorite dishes, such as sushi, tempura, teppanyaki and kaiseki. The decor, and this should not come as any surprise, is ultra Japanese with a lot of wood and bamboo elements. Reservations are suggested. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui East




Located on the 101st floor of the International Commerce Center, Inakaya offers not only great Japanese cuisine, but an amazingly high view of Hong Kong, over one thousand feet below. The menu is quite varied, but seafood is the specialty at this venue. Patrons routinely rave about Inakaya's teppanyaki dish, and their sushi is uniformly delicious. All in all, this restaurant mixed with the view is an experience worth the higher than average price. The selection of sake is outstanding, with many labels that are not available anywhere else in Hong Kong. It's also well worth keeping an eye out for the seasonal hairy crab menus.


4
Central
Tokio Joe
Photo courtesy of Tokio Joe


This contemporary-looking sushi bar is located on Lan Kwai Fong, near some of the city's most hopping nightlife. The menu is quite large and includes sashimi, several types of California rolls, and seaweed soba. For those wanting to dine in a more traditional fashion, Tokio Joe also has seated dining. Lunch and dinner menus are available. Reservations are suggested, especially at dinner. Expect to be rubbing shoulders with a lot of business types who pour into Lan Kwai Fong from Central's office towers. They tend to come in for a quick meal and then retreat to their computers, making this a very busy restaurant. MTR: Central


3
Tsim Sha Tsui


In the throng of Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong, Nadaman, located in both Shangri-la hotels, is often rated as one of the best. Food is not cheap (a meal for two costs US$258 on average) but they come at its freshest and most artistic. Helmed by Chef Kenji Yanagita, the elegant and tranquil space excels at kaiseki cuisine, a traditional Japanese cooking style featuring colorful, seasonal ingredients and delicate, picturesque presentation. The Nadaman Assorted Sashimi Plate is the top choice on the a la carte menu. Nadaman houses separate teppanyaki, sushi and a la carte dining areas as well as private rooms. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner and practices a non-smoking policy. Reservations are strongly recommended.


2
Tai Ping Shan
Yardbird
Photo courtesy of Jason Michael Lang


Yardbird is one of the new breed of Japanese restaurants, a modern izakaya that specializes in yakitori dishes of skewered grilled chicken.The menu, conjured up by Chef Matt Abergel, focuses on all the different parts of a chicken, starting with the neck and ending with the tail, which are grilled over traditional Binchotan charcoal. In addition to yakitori, Yardbird also serves other dishes that incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients. The beverage list is just as exciting, with a collection of intelligently selected sake, shochu, beer, wine, cocktails, and, of course, Japanese Whisky. Vegetarian? Try the fried cauliflower, which comes in a sweet and spicy Kochijan-based sauce, topped with sesame seeds and served with a lime wedge


NOBU InterContinental Hong Kong


Internationally known chef Nobu Matsuhisa has acclaimed restaurants in world-class cities such as New York City, London, Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Milan and Tokyo. Add Hong Kong to the list! Opened at the end of 2006, this outpost is every bit as elegant, sleek and wonderful as its brothers and sisters, and the food is just as fabulous. Sushi and sashimi make up most of the menu, but there are several additional options as well, including steaks, tempura and a host of cooked Japanese dishes. Not to be missed! The restaurant's location overlooking the harbor must make it one of the most amazing Nobus around the world.


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Meet Ed Peters

Ed Peters has been based in Asia for much of his life.

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