Saturday, August 17, 2019

Yakiniku Night

We wanted to find somewhere nice to eat in Central on a Friday evening and made a last-minute booking at Yakiniku Jumbo while heading over. The restaurant was considered one of the more exciting openings last year with its original branch in Tokyo was known to be a mecca for yakiniku cuisine – Japanese-style grilled meat, so to speak. I have tried their lunch menu previously and loved my bowl of curry beef donburi, and I always wanted to go back to check out their more elaborate dinner menu, featuring various cuts of wagyu with most of the dishes prepared on a grill at each table.

The place was not full but still there were quite a few table of customers already eating when we walked in. Obviously the décor was a notch up from your neighborhood Korean BBQ place but still retained the casual vibe with all booth tables in the main dining area with a few private rooms. In front of us was the bar area, which doubled as the open kitchen. Most of the food was prepared at the table so the bar doubled as the carving station where the meat was carved and portioned.

There’s a good selection of a la carte items – mainly different cuts of wagyu – plus a few set menus. We went for the omakase menu, which gave us a variety of meat and a few other dishes. At first I thought it’s a little light in portion but turned out it was just the right amount of food. We began with a few appetizers including the pickles platter and three different dishes served in small bowls and plates. I liked the mini toast of ox tongue, cheese and tomato and the bowl of wagyu yukke, which resembled a beef tartare in western cuisine, with yuba underneath.

Salad was nice and crisp with a mild vinaigrette dressing and deep-fried silverfish on top, and the ox-tail consomme was light but hearty. Then we were served the first two meat courses prepared by the staff at our table. First was the wagyu nigiri, small piece of beef sushi with a thin slice of rump tail (tomo sankaku) from Miyazaki flash-grilled and served on top of a dollop of rice. It was fine but I could live with a bit more seasoned and softer rice.

Then it’s the Noharayaki, the signature item at the restaurant and my favorite dish of the night. The big slice of sirloin was cut thin, lightly seasoned with tare sauce and brought to our table. The grill was then heated up to the right temperature with a generous rub-down of the beef fat and our server carefully put the piece of beef onto the grill for 10 quick seconds, before rolled up and served on the bowl of egg wash. It was decadent with good fat balance and the marinate did highlight the flavor of the meat.

Six different kinds of wagyu were then served over two separate rounds. My favorites were the misuji (oyster blade) and zabuton (medium chuck roll) – I guess I am more into the fatty, marbled cut rather than those that are richer and meatier. Each round the staff put down the meat and gave us a brief explanation of the cut and how they should be prepared and we have to resort to cook ourselves using the grill in front of us. Not too bothered by it but just a little surprise, or did I expect too much?

Anyway, after the meat was done and the our table was cleared, they brought in the final dish of cold noodles with crab and caviar served in a glass, plus the dessert of melon, sorbet and panna cotta. Love the cold noodles as palate cleanser and the simple dessert platter. Overall, slightly pricey for what they serve but generally on par in terms of quality.

When? August 2 2019
Where? Yakiniku Jumbo, Shop 302, Man Yee Arcade, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Wagyu Noharayaki

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