Monday, April 3, 2017

Restaurant Week at TokyoLima

The Restaurant Week promotion often gave us the chance to check out any new or up and coming restaurants that we somehow missed out, and this year we decided to visit TokyoLima, the new-ish restaurant specializing in Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine opened only a couple months ago. The restaurant, branded itself as an izakaya, has the feel of an exclusive speakeasy, tucked away on the ground floor inside a non-descript commercial building on Lyndhurst Terrace.

Once I pulled open the huge steel door and entered into the restaurant, I was surprised how spacious it is. In the front is the bar/lounge area completed with a long counter and couches; while the back – separated by a curtain – was their dining area which was even more spacious, with the open kitchen further back. We were one of the earliest group of customers to arrive when the bar was still empty, but by the time we left, the place was absolutely packed front and back. That’s amazing especially it’s only a random Monday evening and I heard F&B business has slowed down quite a bit in town.

We made the booking for the Restaurant Week menu in advance so that saved us the trouble of having to pick what to eat. Everything was served family style with all together 10 different dishes (plus an extra course which was comped) It’s hard to describe their food as being the cuisine of a certain region. There are obviously more Peruvian/South American influence than the Japanese’s with interesting use of sauces, herbs and spices.

We began with a trio of starter courses, all served with very generous portions (most of us got at least half-full trying to finish all of those dishes). The “Ki-mo-chi” chicken karaage was my favorite one of the three. The boneless bite-size pieces from the thigh was marinated and coated with a slightly spicy batter and then deep-fried to deep golden brown. They were served with a spicy mayo on the side. They were seriously addictive and I found myself keep munching on them non-stop. There were a lot of things going on with the T-3 salad, said to contain three different textures with scores of ingredients served with a sweet Nikkei dressing. I found it a bit overcrowded with too many flavors though it was still decent.

A pair of “second courses” followed – the H&M, so named as the short form for Hamachi and Maguro, was the Tiradito with both types of raw fish served with a slightly sweet soy-citrus sauce. I love the fattiness of both and thought the sauce was tasty. The portobello and nasu sticks were the interesting one – from the appearance I wouldn’t have guessed the dish was vegetarian, with chunks of Portobello mushrooms and egg plants served in a metal skewer like those Japanese yakitori. It’s served with a dab of white miso on top and Japanese pickled ginger on the side.

Both main courses were very enjoyable. The Tacu Tacu was served in a flat pan, with the soft rice and legumes fried for a crispy crust, with snap peas, bell peppers and tomatoes, and the thick slices of rump steak was cooked medium-rare and served with the edamame and carrot purees. I thought both condiments were a bit bland in taste (while bright in color) but the steak has great texture and tasty on its own. But I actually loved the extra course most, which was a bowl of tuna and watermelon tartare with a citrus-wasabi dressing. I thought the dressing was done perfectly, bringing about a bold yet balanced flavor profile.

To be honest I was a bit let down by the two desserts – the bowl of house sorbet came with three different flavors – passionfruit, mango and raspberry – and they were on par with anywhere around. But the matcha panna cotta was way too firm and lack flavor – too much gelatin and too little matcha basically just killed it. I think most of us didn't finish our shares - I hardly touched mine.

But overall at this price and for this vibrant atmosphere, it’s a pleasure eating and drinking here. TokyoLima may not be my pick for special occasions or formal dinner etc (it got quite loud as the night progressed), but for a relaxing place serving simple food and drinks, for something like a beer and the finger-licking good chicken karaage, TokyoLima would probably get my vote in this hood.

When? March 20 2017
Where? TokyoLima, G/F, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? “Ki-mo-chi” Fried Chicken.

No comments :