Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Okay Omakase Lunch

Some sudden craving for sushi led us back to Sushi Ta-ke in Causeway Bay just as we began our Christmas long weekend. I was actually surprised that I could get two seats at the counter for lunch at this usually popular restaurant when I called just an hour in advance – I suppose half of the people in town must have left for the holidays elsewhere. The place was quite full when we got there for our late lunch, and we were led to the seats towards the end of the long sushi counter near where their Executive Chef Mitsuhashi-san was working.

Watching what the chef was making for the standard sushi lunch set, we decided to go for the omakase option instead, thinking (and hoping) that would get us something a little more special than what we saw on the other plates. We then began with the appetizers, with simmered noten (top of the tuna head) on one side and steamed ankimo (monkfish liver) on the other, both cut in bite-size pieces. They were pretty decent with good fatty texture and well-balanced flavor with the light dressings.

Two pieces of sashimi landed on the plate in front of me the moment I put down my chopsticks for my appetizers, literally. (why the hurry, I wonder, especially as most others at the restaurant were finishing up their meal and we weren't slow by any means) The couple pieces of buri, or wild yellowtail, has a rather mild flavor – it was just average. The piece of scallop, which came next, fared much better in my opinion, with rich taste and firm texture from the slight aging served in room temperature. Our last sashimi course was the tuna, with one piece of chu-toro (medium fatty tuna) and o-toro (fatty tuna). The chu-toro was slightly sinewy towards my last bite so I did like the o-toro more, but both were delicious.

We were given a choice of cooked dish just as we finished our sashimi courses. The one I picked was the buri no nitsuke (simmered yellowtail), and I definitely preferred that to the sashimi piece from the same type of fish I had earlier. The seasoning was a tad bit too heavy, but I like that delicate and fat piece of yellowtail taking in some flavor from the sauce.

Afterwards, five pieces of sushi were served in order – hirame (flounder), shimaji (striped jack), o-toro (fatty tuna), saba (mackeral) and uni (sea urchin), then it was the piece of toro-maki (fatty tuna handroll) and the castella cake. None of them really stood out to be honest - if you pushed hard enough I would say my favorite was the piece of uni served as gunken sushi, with good clean taste and the crispy nori wrapped around. But it's only pretty much on par with what I thought they should be delivering with this caliber anyway. And I thought the rice (shari) was too mild and the wasabi (suspiciously coming from a plastic box already grated) slightly too strong, but I do like the minimal seasoning used in preparation of the neta – nothing over the top with those blow-torch or heavy brush of sauce that I wasn’t a fan of for most of the time. I guess the only thing that was above my expectation was the dessert of green tea icecream at the end – the single scoop was served with the favorite azuki/red bean paste on the side!

Make no mistake this was not a bad meal by any means, but I was expecting a bit more for what we were paying rather than getting just the rather standard stuff (except the few pieces of toro that we enjoyed - but I would rather have some varieties instead though). The service was a little hurried in a fast-food chain manner, the sushi courses were decent but nothing out of ordinary, and it lacked variety with none of the seasonal items presented – I know it’s close to the Japanese fish market closing time at the time of our visit but this shouldn’t be the reason of such. But at least the meal did help dealing with my sushi craving for now, at least until my Japan trip in less than a month's time.

When? December 23 2017
Where? Sushi Ta-ke, Level 12, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Toro Sashimi, Buri no Nitsuke

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