Thursday, February 11, 2016

Shopping Mall Sushi (Not What You Think)

We are very curious to see how a serious sushi joint in a high street shopping mall would fare when we made a lunch reservation at Sushi Tokami which opened only a few months ago at Harbour City in TST. Of course we are not talking about just another regular restaurant chain - after all Sushi Tokami Hong Kong is the first overseas branch of the highly-regarded, Michelin-starred sushi-ya in Tokyo bearing the same name.

The restaurant was tucked away inside the labyrinth-like mall - we counted ourselves lucky finding the place without much difficulties after having spotted its low-profile entrance right behind the grizzling Louis Vuitton mega-store. Compared to many high-end sushi-ya, the restaurant was of pretty good size, with two separate bar areas which can sit a total of 18 customers at a time.

We were the first customers to arrive for the Sunday lunch service and soon joined by several other groups at the L-shaped bar near to the entrance in front of head chef Satoshi Taga. Both lunch and dinner menus were based on omakase selection but for lunch, there's a choice of sushi set ranges from 12 to 16 pieces at 3 different price points. Both of us craved for something substantial in the freezing weather so we went for the 16-piece set.

Lunch began with the otsumami of chilled ankimo (monkfish liver) garnished with ponzu sauce while the rest of the ingredients for the sushi course were prepared, sliced and placed on a small wooden tray. Then chef pretty much followed the classic serving order bringing the sushi pieces to us in succession, beginning with the lighter Hirame (flounder) and Sumi-ika (squid) working our way through to the richer and fattier pieces towards the end. I must say everything was of very very high standard - it's almost impossible to pick out any particular piece as favorite because they were all very good.

Hirame was served with a simple squeeze of sudachi juice while Sumi-ika was topped with crunchy charcoal salt. Both had excellent textures. The Kohada (gizzard shad) which arrived next was not the largest piece I have had but the taste was outstanding.

Three different tuna pieces were then served - the akami-zuke, chu-toro then o-toro. I love the chu-toro most with the right balance of fat and firm meat texture. The saba (mackeral) was served with minimal seasoning, and I felt it's the best of its kind I have had outside of Japan. Despite the rather petite size, I thought the kuruma-ebi (giant shrimp) was well-prepared and tasty. Just as we walked in to the restaurant, the chef was preparing the sayori (needle fish) and I was surprised at the size of it. And my piece - taken out from the middle region, was shiny and bouncy and I love the harmonic combination with a dab of chopped green onion paste on top.

We took a little break from nigiri sushi when we were passed a bowl of kawahagi (filefish) served with the liver sauce with rice underneath. It's creamy like a risotto, thanks to the liver sauce being mixed in. The lunch just went from strength to strength with hotate (scallops) being served next. The scallop was of pretty good size, halved and then butterflied and on top was a tiny touch of black salt bringing out the full umami flavor.

We continued with four more excellent pieces. The kinmedai (goldeneye snapper) has good texture and worked well with the rice with mellow vinegar flavor. I wonder if the Murasaki Uni (purple sea urchin) was served extra cold on purpose - wife wasn't too fond of that thinking that numbed the fresh uni flavor but I thought that brought out the sweetness very well along with that interesting sensation as I put the sushi piece into my mouth. It's served with such generous portion that we almost couldn't hold all it in one hand and finish in one bite.

Chef made subtle changes to the vinegar portion of the rice depending on the taste of different fish, and of all pieces, I thought the pairing of the seasonal amadai (tilefish) with a rice tinted with mellow vinegar and slightly heavier touch of salt was the one particularly stood out for me.

I was delighted when chef brought out the nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) and carefully cut out a few pieces for our sushi course. I could almost feel the fatty flavor just by watching the knife cutting through the meat. That was our last piece before anago (sea eel) and it was as good as I thought. I whispered to CYY saying I would take that nodoguro sushi over the prized o-toro piece on any day.

The anago was cooked in the traditional Edomae style, steamed then grilled and served with a light brushing of tare sauce. I personally preferred this over the one I had at Shinji just the week before where it's only steamed and served with a light sprinkle of salt. The Meguro Tossaiki Temaki is a signature item of the restaurant and our last piece of sushi. A round dollop of minced tuna (taken from the part near to the head) was gently pressed into red vinegar rice, rolled with nori and passed to us as a hand roll. It has well-balanced and delicious.

Overall I think the meal was outstanding - I reckon there's only a few handful places outside of Japan that are capable of delivering at such level. Probably a bit pricier than a similar deal in Tokyo or more than what I would normally pay for lunch, but if you are in for an occasional splurge, this is well worth it no doubt.

A more complete photo album here:

When? January 24 2016
Where? Sushi Tokami, Shop 216A, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsimshatsui, Kowloon

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1 comment :

Dylan Baldwin said...

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