Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Three-Star Sushi Lunch

It took us almost 3 months to finally have time to eat at Sushi Shikon, after I told Chef Kaki-san that I was planning to visit him and his restaurant at the new location when we saw each other in Macau in December. With the cozy sushi-ya making Landmark Mandarin Oriental its new home since late last year and retained its Michelin 3-stars in this year’s guide, we dropped by for lunch one Saturday a couple weeks ago.

The restaurant shared the same floor space as Amber and Somm, two of the in-house F&B outlets at the hotel, but under separate management and operations. I felt the new space was even cozier than its old home in Sheung Wan, with only 8 seats over a long counter. Over lunch apparently they did only one single seating and expected everyone at the counter to arrive at the same time so the chef could prepare the courses for all in one go. That partly explained the uneasiness on their faces when I walked in 10 minutes late.

This afternoon we started with the warm appetizer dish of hamaguri (hard shell clam) served in a thickened wakame broth in a ceramics bowl. The clam came in good size and the dish was hearty with a touch of sansho pepper flavor. Meanwhile, the chef began final preparation for our sushi courses with the neta carved, seasoned and laid neatly on the wooden board. And this afternoon Kaki-san delegated the duties of sushi-making to his sous chef and the apprentice.

The first 3 courses were served in quick succession – tai (snapper), buri (wild yellowtail) and o-toro (fatty tuna). All were fine – the buri has good fatty texture and torched slightly on the surface for a hint of smoky flavor, but star of the afternoon was the toro, given a quick marinate in the sauce and served with a strong-flavored shari, going perfectly well with the slightly sweet flavor of the fish.

The box of uni (sea urchins) was shown to us before the gunkan sushi was prepared. The aka-uni from Hokkaido has the great, clean flavor as I would expect, though I did have a problem of the nori being soggy. Reckon it stayed out in the humid room for a bit too long.

Awabi (abalone) has long been the signature dish here – for lunch course, the julienned abalone strips was served on top of the vinegared rice and the liver sauce spooned generously on top (dinner the abalone was served as halves). Both the sauce and abalone was top-notch and as good as I remembered plus it’s served in generous portion, but I did feel like the strong flavor of the rice tipped the dish off-balance. It’s probably better with something more neutrally flavored to highlight the strong umami taste of the liver sauce – perhaps a kick down in vinegar in the rice would have helped.

The abalone course represented the middle point of our lunch menu and we continued with a few more after that. The kuruma-ebi (tiger prawn) was another highlight of the day, perfectly cooked with nice bouncy texture and well-balanced taste with the addition of the creamy prawn roes in the center and a brush of salt water on top right before serving, from the piece coming from Kamamoto.

The anago (saltwater conger eel) has less of the smoky flavor than I expected from the open-fire grilling but I love the extra fatty texture and the gentle brush of the sauce on top. I had a problem with the nori used in the uni sushi earlier, and that problem was more evident with the kanpyo maki served as our last sushi course. The lack of crispness sadly did kill that dish. And we finished with a lovely dessert of strawberries and mochi.

Overall the lunch was decent with a few pieces that stood out as some of the best I had in town. But that said there were also issues - albeit minor they might be - that were hard to be overlooked this time around. Maybe only in dinner service we could see the true colors of this renowned sushi place that we had the pleasure of being one of their first customers some years ago.

Here's more pictures from the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157713120827613

When? February 15 2020
Where? Sushi Shikon, Level 7, Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? O-toro Sushi
Web: sushi-shikon.com

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